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How to Set Short & Long Term Career Goals in a Changing Economy

Monday, February 03, 2020


How to Set Short & Long Term Career Goals in a Changing Economy
An individual who is serious about pursuing a career would have set for himself short term and long term career goals. These are the driving forces that guide one’s professional path and ensure that all decisions made support these goals. Plenty of talk around “short term” and “long term” tend to fall on deaf ears among new entrants to the labour force. On the other hand, veterans who understand the importance of lifelong learning would lend credit to these objectives because they would have realised by then that effective planning gave them more control of the narrative they wanted to write about their professional selves.

Do career goals matter in a dynamic and volatile economy?
Perhaps it is the volatility of the economy today that dampens one’s confidence in working towards a successful career. The thought of having one’s profession made redundant in the face of automation or any other technological innovation can affect how an individual makes use of his capabilities in the labour market. This is the reason why transferable skills, as we will tap on later, have become more valuable in today’s climate than they were in the past.

While a changing workforce is inevitable, the choice of a career can still lie within your control as long as you map out a realistic professional path for yourself. This would comprise a list of feasible short term and long term career goals.

Short term and long term goals as interdependent drivers
Short term career goals are planned for the near future, be it today, tomorrow, next month or within the year. Long term career goals are those set for a further future, those that require careful planning and are highly dependent on short term goals. Simply put, short term career goals are the building blocks towards a long term goal. As an example, if you are a university freshman who aspires to be a commercial pilot (long term goal), you would need to complete a degree in aviation, attain a flying license and acquire a set number of flight hours (short term goals) before you are professionally fit to fly a commercial jet. Therefore, planning short term and long term career goals cannot be done in silos - an interdependent model of planning is the way forward. Here’s how.

Work backwards
You cannot plan a career without deciding, at the very least, the industry you hope to join. Once that is figured out, the next step is to find out how to enter the industry. To achieve this, work backwards:

To join the information technology (IT) industry, for example, you would need to acquire relevant qualifications that are recognised by the field. These qualifications are pegged to prerequisites, such as the completion of a certain course. Before enrolling in the latter, basic entry requirements must be met. This could refer to reasonable grades from a pre-tertiary or tertiary institution. This series of steps make up the short term career goals that you must achieve to kickstart your career in the IT industry.

For a more concrete example, we can use a hypothetical example of John who wishes to be hired for a role in project management within the IT industry:


Career Goals

Long term goal #1:

Join IT industry as a Project Management Professional (PMP)

Short term goal #1:
Attain a diploma or associate degree in management
Short term goal #2:
Acquire 1 to 2 years of experience in leading and directing projects part-time
Short term goal #3:
Record 35 hours of project management education in a senior role
Short term goal #4:
Obtain PMP certification from Project Management Institute


Prioritise goals
Long term career goals can be planned out as a series or paralleled to one another as long as they are pegged to realistic short term ones. That said, you should prioritise the goals and focus on one at a time. This allows for a systematic approach towards career-building and, at the same time, ensures a better work-life balance.

Be flexible
The list of short term career goals can always be extended to include those that do not directly meet the long term goal but are valuable as secondary competencies. Knowledge expansion, as we would refer to, is training yourself to be better performers in an ever-changing labour market where transferable skills are sought after. This is especially important among mid-career professionals looking for a switch.

It is this very reason that makes short term and long term goals increasingly important: knowing that the short term goals include those that allow you to utilise skills outside of your desired long term goal prepares you for the changes in a dynamic economy. It makes it easier for you to take up new roles that are underpinned by pre-existing skill sets you would have already acquired in your previous career.

Deliberating on the short term goals to achieve long term ones is not easy, yet it is necessary. If academic and training qualifications are part of your short term goals that lead you to a future career in the infotech industry, take a look at our range of IT training courses and find the best programme that would set you on the right track towards your professional ambitions.

Reach out to us if you need more information on our courses!

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