Setting Goals for a New Career? Get S.M.A.R.T.
For most military veterans, setting and achieving goals is just another day at the office. Goal setting is engrained from the very beginning of your training. Creating a job search action plan using S.M.A.R.T. goals can make the leap into the civilian workplace less overwhelming.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are criteria to guide the setting of objectives. Originally introduced for managers in 1981, they are easily adaptable for personal and career development. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Each letter focuses on a clear goal:
Specific: A specific goal will usually answer the five 'W' questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why accomplish this goal?
- Who: Who is involved?
- Where: Pinpoint a location.
- Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Measurable: This provides quantifiable, concrete criteria for measuring progress, and will usually answer questions such as: - How much? - How many? - How will I know when it is accomplished?
Example: Apply for 6-10 jobs per day.
Achievable: Example: Clear schedule daily from 8:30 – 12:00 to focus on: identifying nearby career fairs for veterans; online job postings; LinkedIn opportunities; other networking groups and opportunities.
- Spend one day per week researching companies in the fields that interest me. See if they have a veteran hiring program or veteran career page.
- Create a basic resume that can be adjusted for different industries (Example: move sales and recruiting successes to the forefront for a sales position. Or highlight leadership and management experiences for resumes submitted for management or supervisory roles).
- Have a civilian read the resume to make sure abilities are clearly displayed in civilian language, and are free of military jargon or too many acronyms.
Time-bound: This part of the SMART goal criteria prevents goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day distractions that invariably arise.
Example: If I apply for 30-50 jobs per week, I should be able to start following up with hiring managers within 7 days, either by phone or email.
Marine Corps recruits often ask each other “why” during their training. Why? Because:
- They are forced to clarify their objective;
- The decision to undertake the task at hand is reinforced; and
- They are reminded of the end game.
When you identify the goals that are most important to you, you can formulate a plan to make them come true. It doesn’t take long to jot down S.M.A.R.T. goals, but once armed with them, they can make an enormous difference in a successful job search or career change