How to Set and Achieve Your Career Goals in 2024


How to Set and Achieve Your Career Goals in 2024

by Karien de Villiers

  • Career
  • · July 04 2024
  • · 5 min read
how to mention career goals on a CV and cover letter

Table of contents

A career goal is a personal aspiration that can be short-term or long-term. It defines what you aim to achieve in your professional life. Whether you are a student, a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, your career goals steer your path.

In this article, we cover:

  • Why are career goals important when writing a CV or cover letter?

  • Examples of career goals.

  • How to include career goals on a CV.

  • How to include career goals on a cover letter.

  • Examples of how to mention career goals in a CV or cover letter.

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Why are career goals important when writing a CV or cover letter?

Aligning your CV or cover letter with your career aspirations is essential. A practical approach is maintaining a master CV that you can customise for specific job applications. At the start of your job search, you must clearly understand the types of positions you are targeting. This clarity allows you to write a CV that effectively showcases and supports your career goals.

career goals matching cv and cover letter

Job targets can vary when customising your modern CV or cover letter template. It's important to identify these early and ensure they align with your career goals. Here are some specific job target ideas to help guide your CV writing process.

  1. Entry-level: Highlight relevant coursework and internships for roles like Tutor or Marketing Intern.

  2. Industry-specific: Focus on coding languages and methodologies for roles like Software Developer in a tech startup.

  3. Leadership: Showcase leadership and sales growth experience for positions like Sales Director.

  4. Specialised: Highlight specific skills and projects for roles like Data Analyst in healthcare.

  5. Creative: Include portfolio and design skills for roles like Graphic Designer.

  6. Academic: Focus on research experience and publications for roles like a Research Scientist.

  7. Technical: Emphasise certifications and technical skills for positions like a Network Engineer.

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Pro Tip

Make sure that your CV and cover letter align in layout, format, and content.

For CV and cover letter examples tailored to some of the above job targets, refer to the following guides:

Examples of career goals

Short-term career goals:

Obtaining a certification

Upskilling yourself

Expanding your network

Completing a professional certification relevant to your field within the next six months to enhance your skills and qualifications.

Learning a new software program or technical skill within the next three months to improve your job performance and efficiency.

Attending at least three industry conferences or networking events in the next year to build professional relationships and explore new career opportunities.

Long-term career goals:

Becoming a business owner

Achieving a senior leadership position

Pursuing a post-graduate degree

Start and successfully run your own business within the next ten years, establishing it as a reputable and profitable enterprise in your industry.

Working towards becoming a department head or senior manager within the next five to ten years, overseeing a significant part of your organisation.

Completing a master's degree or Ph.D. in your field within the next five to seven years to enhance your expertise and open up higher-level career opportunities.

How to set career goals and achieve them 

Mentioning your career goal in your CV can help potential employers understand your motivations and how they align with the job and the company’s objectives. It can also demonstrate that you are a forward-thinking and committed candidate with a clear vision for your future. For more tips, refer to how to write a good CV or check out how to structure a cover letter.

1. Identify your passions and strengths

To identify your passions and strengths, start by pinpointing activities or subjects that energise you. For example, if you find joy in problem-solving or creative endeavours like writing or graphic design, these could be indicators of your passions.

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Pro Tip

By understanding what drives and distinguishes you, you can tailor your career goals to align with your genuine interests and capabilities.

Additionally, recognise your unique strengths, such as strong communication skills or attention to detail, which could be evident in successful project completions or leadership roles. For more tips, refer to what skills to put on a CV.

2. Research and explore potential career paths 

When diving into researching career options, take the time to explore a wide range of industries and job roles that resonate with your passions and strengths. Investigate the requirements, responsibilities, and growth prospects associated with different professions to comprehensively understand potential career paths.

For more guidance, read through top skills employers are looking for or alternatively, check out highest paying jobs.

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Pro Tip

Consider factors such as job stability, salary potential, and work-life balance to ensure alignment with your personal and professional goals.


Software development

Marketing and advertising

Healthcare and social work

If you have a passion for technology and problem-solving skills, careers in software development, cybersecurity, or data analysis could be suitable options. Roles may include software engineer, IT security analyst, or data scientist.

If you're drawn to creative pursuits and possess strong communication skills, consider exploring careers in marketing, advertising, or content creation. Opportunities may include roles like marketing manager, copywriter, or social media strategist.

If you have a passion for helping others and a compassionate nature, careers in healthcare, counselling, or social work might be fulfilling options. Roles could include nurse, therapist, or community outreach coordinator, serving diverse populations in various settings.

For more information on tailoring your CV or cover letter to a specific job, refer to the following guides:

3. Set SMART goals

When setting career goals, apply the SMART criteria to ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework helps in crafting goals that are clear, actionable, and conducive to successful attainment.

For example, let's say your career goal is to advance to a managerial position within your company's marketing department. Applying the SMART criteria, you might formulate the goal as follows:

  • Specific: Instead of a vague aim like "advance in my career," specify the exact position and department you aspire to, such as "become a Marketing Manager within the next two years."

  • Measurable: Define criteria by which you can measure your progress and success. This could include metrics like the number of relevant skills acquired, successful completion of leadership training programs, or achieving specific performance targets.

  • Achievable: Ensure that your goal is realistic and attainable given your current skills, experience, and resources. Consider what steps you need to take to bridge any skill or experience gaps and make the goal achievable.

  • Relevant: Ensure that your career goal aligns with your overall career aspirations, interests, and values. It should contribute to your professional growth and fulfilment. In our example, aspiring to a managerial role within the marketing field is relevant if marketing is your chosen career path.

  • Time-bound: Set a specific timeframe for achieving your goal. This creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused and motivated. For example, aiming to become a Marketing Manager within the next two years sets a clear deadline for your career progression.

Fore more guidance, refer to our Marketing CV and Marketing Cover Letter.

4. Develop a detailed action plan

Break down your overarching career goal into smaller, manageable tasks and milestones. Each task should represent a specific action you need to take to move closer to your objective. 

Tasks for transitioning to software development:

  • Enroll in coding bootcamp or online courses to learn programming languages like Python or Java.

  • Build a portfolio of coding projects to showcase your skills to potential employers.

  • Participate in hackathons or coding challenges to gain practical experience and network with professionals in the field.

  • Seek internships or volunteer opportunities with tech companies to gain hands-on experience.

Check out our article on courses and certifications, or explore our piece on career changes for valuable insights.

5. Monitor progress and make adjustments accordingly

Review your progress toward your career goals regularly and make adjustments as necessary. Stay flexible and adapt your action plan based on new opportunities, challenges, and changes in your circumstances.

How to include career goals in a CV

1. Personal profile

Start with a clear, concise, professional summary at the top of your CV. This should highlight your career goals and how they align with the position you are applying for. Example: Dynamic marketing professional with over five years of experience in digital marketing and a goal to leverage my skills in a leadership role within a forward-thinking company.

Refer to how to write a personal profile for more examples.

2. Career objective

Include a career objective statement if you are early in your career or changing fields. This should be a brief statement outlining your professional aspirations and how the role fits into these plans. Example: Seeking a software engineering position at Web Solutions to utilise my coding skills and contribute to innovative projects while progressing towards a lead developer role.

3. Relevant experiences

Emphasise skills and experiences that align with your career goals. Tailor each section of your CV to highlight how your background supports your professional objectives. Example: If your goal is to become a project manager, focus on your organisational skills, leadership experiences, and any project management certifications.

Check out our article on how to include work experience on a CV for more examples.

4. Achievements and milestones

Highlight achievements that demonstrate progress towards your career goals. Use quantifiable metrics to showcase your successes. Example: Led a team to increase sales by 20%, showcasing leadership and strategic planning skills relevant to my goal of becoming a sales director.

Not sure what to include? Refer to our detailed guide on how to list achievements on a CV.

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How to include career goals in a cover letter

1. Introduction

Begin your cover letter with a strong introduction that mentions your career goals and why you are excited about the position. Example: I am thrilled to apply for the marketing manager position at KCMG. My goal is to lead a dynamic marketing team, and I believe KCMG provides the perfect environment to achieve this.

For more examples, refer to how to start a cover letter.

2. Body paragraphs

Use the body of your cover letter to elaborate on how your career goals align with the company’s objectives. Discuss how your past experiences have prepared you for this role and how it fits into your career path. Example: In my previous role at JJ Consultants., I managed several successful campaigns that increased brand awareness by 30%. This experience has prepared me to take on a leadership role at JJ Consultants where I aim to drive even greater success.

No experience? No problem! Check out our guide on how to write a cover letter if you have no experience.

3. Alignment with company goals

Show that you have researched the company and explain how your career goals align with its mission and values. Example: WestCorp’s commitment to innovation and community engagement resonates with my professional aspirations. I am eager to contribute to your team while working towards my goal of becoming a marketing director focused on impactful, socially responsible campaigns.

4. Conclusion

Conclude by reiterating your enthusiasm for the position and how it fits into your career trajectory. Express your eagerness to discuss how you can contribute to the company’s success. Example: I am excited about the opportunity to bring my skills to and grow within your esteemed organisation. I look forward to discussing how I can contribute to your team and achieve our mutual goals.

Refer to how to end a cover letter for more tips.

Key takeaways

  • Including a career goal in your CV shows that you have a clear focus and direction in your professional life. 

  • When your career goals align with the job you are applying for, it suggests to employers that you are likely to be more motivated, engaged, and committed to the role. 

  • Stating your career goal can highlight your ambition and desire for professional growth. It shows that you are thinking about progressing within the industry and contributing to the company in the long term.

Next steps?

Explore our professional CV examples and cover letter examples, each with a customisable CV template. Need help with your cover letter? Our CV Writing Services experts can proofread and tailor it for you. Check out our career blog for top interview questions and tips.


What is the difference between a career goal and a career objective?

A career goal is a broader, long-term ambition that defines what you aim to achieve in your professional life. A career objective is a specific, short-term statement outlining what you hope to accomplish in a particular job or role.

Should you target your job for each application?

Yes, targeting your job application for each position is essential. Tailoring your CV and cover letter to align with the specific job requirements and company culture increases your chances of success.

What is the best career objective to write in a CV?

The best career objective is specific, tailored to the job you're applying for, and emphasises how your skills and experience align with the company's needs.

What goals should I put on my CV?

Include career goals that showcase your aspirations and how they align with the job and company you're applying to. These goals should demonstrate your ambition, motivation, and potential contribution to the organisation.

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Updated July 04 2024


Written by

Karien has established herself as a leading figure in the career services industry, crafting over 800 professional documents and assisting job seekers globally with reviews such as "I'd hire me". Renowned for her expertise, she continues to empower individuals, specialising in creating resources to aid job seekers in securing employment and staying ahead in the ever-evolving job market. Start here today!

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