What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (2024)


Professional Development

What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Professional development goals can help you achieve your short- and long-term objectives in your career.

What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (1)

Professional development goals are objectives you can set for yourself to help further your career. These might include taking steps to learn relevant skills, expand your professional network, or find more satisfaction at work.

Why set professional development goals?

Setting professional development goals can have many benefits. They can help you stay up-to-date on industry trends, increase engagement and job satisfaction, and align you with what you want out of your career and life.

Setting goals that are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—can clarify what you need to achieve in the short-term to arrive at your long-term goals. Read more about setting SMART goals below.

What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (2)

10 examples of professional development goals

Here are ten examples of professional development goals to inspire your own:

1. Develop a new skill set.

Growing professionally often means expanding the arsenal of things you’re able to do. What skill you choose to develop can depend on your industry, job, and personal preferences. In-demand skills across the job sector in 2022 included cloud computing, data analysis skills like artificial intelligence and SQL, management, and UX design [1].

Don’t know where to start? Approach your manager and see if they have suggestions. You can also browse job descriptions of positions you’d be interested in pursuing; the common skills listed will help you get a sense of what’s in-demand in your field. Do some research to get a sense of what you want to learn and what will be useful to your work.

Develop skills by taking online or in-person courses, shadowing a coworker, or going back to school, among other ways. Think about what fits your schedule and the level of expertise you’re aiming for to see what works best for you.

2. Develop your workplace skills.

Workplace skills are the tools and practices that help people in a workplace connect and interact smoothly with one another. Sometimes referred to as human or soft skills, workplace skills can be crucial for advancing to higher-level positions. Workplace skills include verbal and nonverbal communication, empathy, self-awareness, and leadership.

Specific goals might include:

  • Complete an online course on communication, negotiation, or psychology

  • Join a social public speaking club, such as a local Toastmasters chapter

Read more: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

3. Take up leadership responsibilities.

Actively seeking out leadership opportunities will allow you to develop leadership skills, and show others that you are striving to grow. Approach your manager to see how you might be able to put your leadership skills into practice. Have a few suggestions at the ready. Here are some examples to get your started:

  • Lead two team meetings this quarter

  • Plan and lead a team initiative to collectively learn a new tool or skill

  • Plan the next team offsite or activity

4. Expand your professional network.

Expanding your professional network can expose you to new ideas, build your profile, keep you informed of new job opportunities, and help you learn continuously.

Sign up for events to attend in your field, join professional groups in person or through social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, or find opportunities to volunteer your skills through volunteer databases like VolunteerMatch.

Some concrete goals you can set include:

  • Attend five in-person or virtual professional events

  • Find and join three professional groups on LinkedIn

Read more: 9 Networking Tips to Expand and Strengthen Your Network

5. Level-up your credentials.

Beefing up your credentials can open up new career opportunities or clear a path to a promotion. Credentials can include certifications, professional certificates, and degrees. See what makes the most sense for both your short- and long-term career goals. Once you get your credential, don’t forget to inform your manager and list it in relevant places like your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Relevant goals might look like the following:

  • Earn a certification in your field in the next quarter or year

  • Complete a professional certificate

  • Find five degree programs to begin applying to

Read more: Upskilling: What It Means and How It Can Help Your Career

6. Consume media in your field.

Learning more about your field through various media—like books, podcasts, and news publications, to name a few—can enrich your understanding of the context around your work and inform you of ways to improve. Plus, as passive ways of absorbing information, you’ll be able to learn as you, say, go on a walk or wait for the bus.

Ask coworkers or professionals in your network about recommendations. Otherwise, a quick online search should yield plenty of ideas, whether you’re looking for marketing podcasts, books on project management, or something else.

Here are some concrete goals you might aspire to:

  • Read two books in your field in a quarter

  • Listen to one podcast on a relevant topic a week

  • Find 10 experts in your field on Twitter to follow

7. Find other ways to deepen job satisfaction.

Being satisfied as a professional doesn’t necessarily mean striving for constant achievement and earning promotions. Job satisfaction is tied to many factors besides enjoying the work itself—including forming fulfilling relationships with coworkers, achieving work-life balance, and keeping your mental and physical health in check. Plus, there’s evidence that links job satisfaction to higher productivity and less turnover in workplaces—being a happy worker is likely going to benefit your company too [2].

Here are some goals you might set to improve your workday:

  • Schedule lunch or coffee chats with coworkers

  • Join or start a workplace interest group

  • Create a plan to prepare healthy meals for lunch

  • Set reminders to take intermittent breaks throughout the day

  • Clarify boundaries on work expectations outside of working hours

8. Take a relevant course.

Courses can help you develop skills, learn about issues relevant to your work, and flex new parts of your brain. Courses can be directly related to your work responsibilities, but this might be an opportunity to challenge yourself to develop in new ways. Data analysis, project management, or UX design courses may give you the skills you need—but consider other fields like creative writing, public speaking, or foreign languages that can deepen your work in more unexpected ways.

Specific goals for coursework might look like the following:

  • Complete a course on XYZ topic in a quarter

  • Map out a plan for coursework you’ll take throughout the year

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What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (3)

9. Shadow another department.

Shadowing another department can have myriad positives: it can encourage communication and cooperation across siloed teams, inspire ways to improve your own team, and leave you with a better understanding of how your organization works.

You can set goals such as:

  • Ask three people from different departments to lunch

  • Create a program in your workplace to encourage cross-team shadowing

10.Find a mentor.

A mentor can help you navigate challenges in the workplace and help you progress in your career.

Finding a mentor might sound like a daunting task, but be assured that many have done it before. Some workplaces have mentoring programs in place that make it easy for people to connect with a more experienced professional. You might also find that your professional network will come in handy here. You can start by finding people who have had careers you find close to your aspirations in professional groups or alumni communities. Or if it makes sense, reach out to somebody in your workplace that you think you’ll be able to learn from.

Goals that will help you land a mentor include:

  • Create a pitch that you can use to contact potential mentors

  • Arrange a meeting with potential mentors to see if they’re a fit

  • Map out your short- or long-term goals (or both) of having a mentor

How to set professional development goals

1. Know what you’re working towards.

Start by taking some time to consider what you want out of your career, now or in the future. Goal-setting is a useful exercise because it can clarify what you really want out of your career, and identify tangible steps to achieve it.

Don’t know what you want to do in five or 10 years yet? Start smaller, and identify your interests. If you’ve always admired your manager who can speak eloquently in front of others, consider a public speaking course. If you find yourself fascinated by your coworker’s ability to analyze data sets, try learning Python or another programming language.

2. Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s what each of those components mean:

Specific: Goals should be well-defined and unambiguous so that you know exactly what you’re aspiring to.

Measurable: Goals should have a clear way of identifying whether you’ve achieved them, or if not, how close you came to them. For example, saying Finish three modules of my online course is more measurable than a goal like Work on my online course.

Achievable: Setting a goal that you can realistically achieve is key to actually achieving them. Plus, thinking in the back of your mind that a goal is impossible may be demotivating. Keep yourself motivated by setting reasonable goals.

Relevant: Your goals should be relevant to you—that is, they should align with your long-term aspirations and values. Think of this as the “why” of your goal.

Time-bound: Set a deadline for your goals so you can stay on track and motivated.

Getting started on professional development goals

Professional development goals can help identify what you want your career to look like in the short- and long-term, and what steps you need to take to get where you want to be.Ready to get started? Learn from world-class institutions with over 8,000 courses, certificates, and degrees on Coursera.

What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (4)

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1. Coursera. "Global Skills Report, https://pages.coursera-for-business.org/rs/748-MIV-116/images/Coursera-Global-Skills-Report-2022.pdf." Accessed May 18, 2023.

2. Harvard Business Review. "Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive, https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive." Accessed May 18, 2023.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them (2024)


What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them? ›

Learning new abilities, earning certifications, gaining more experience in a specific field, moving forward in your company, and pursuing any other career aspirations are all examples of professional development goals.

What is an example of a professional development goal? ›

Learning new abilities, earning certifications, gaining more experience in a specific field, moving forward in your company, and pursuing any other career aspirations are all examples of professional development goals.

How to set personal development goals for work with examples? ›

Examples of development goals for work
  • Identifying and developing a new skill.
  • Applying for a new role.
  • Learning a new language.
  • Making meaningful connections within your industry.
  • Reading a new book every month.
  • Saying yes to new opportunities.
  • Developing healthy habits.
  • Being productive with your time.
Jan 2, 2023

How do you set 10 year career goals? ›

Alex Cooke
  1. Step 1: Reflect on Your Values, Passions and Generators of Joy. ...
  2. Step 2: Assess Your Skills and Interests. ...
  3. Step 3: Set Clear Long-Term Goals. ...
  4. Step 4: Break Your Goals into Smaller Milestones. ...
  5. Step 5: Identify Necessary Skills and Education. ...
  6. Step 6: Your Family / Support network. ...
  7. Step 7: Network Strategically.
Mar 31, 2023

What are some professional development examples? ›

Professional Development Examples
  • Continuing Education.
  • Participation in professional organizations.
  • Research.
  • Improve job performance.
  • Increased duties and responsibilities.
  • Approaches to professional development:
  • Skill Based Training.
  • Job Assignments.

How do you write a professional development plan example? ›

Creating an IPDP comprises the following:
  1. State your professional activities and roles. Identify your current roles and responsibilities as a graduate student. ...
  2. Assess Skills and Knowledge. List your skills and knowledge. ...
  3. Set Goals. ...
  4. Create an Action Plan. ...
  5. Document Your Development.

What goals can I set for myself? ›

16 examples of personal goals
  • Make better use of your time management skills and manage yourself better.
  • Stop procrastinating.
  • Put limits on your social media usage.
  • Incorporate more self-care practices into your routine.
  • Become better at public speaking.
  • Learn how to take care of your physical health better.
Jun 28, 2022

What are 5 tips for setting career goals? ›

Tips to achieve your goal
  • Write down the steps. Write down your career goal and the steps to get there. ...
  • Set deadlines. Give yourself a date to complete your goals by. ...
  • Reward yourself. Taking steps toward goals is hard work. ...
  • Have a goal partner.

What are your professional goals for the next 5 years? ›

Here are 20 examples of short- and long-term professional goals:
  • Gain an internship. ...
  • Increase your core skills. ...
  • Grow your professional network. ...
  • Advance in your company. ...
  • Obtain higher credentials. ...
  • Earn a higher salary. ...
  • Pursue a different career. ...
  • Become an expert in your field.
Feb 27, 2023

What are your top 3 career goals? ›

6 Common Career Goals + Examples
  • Advancing to a leadership position.
  • Becoming a thought leader.
  • Working toward professional development.
  • Shifting into a new career path.
  • Experiencing career stability.
  • Creating a career goal.
Jun 22, 2023

What should I put for career goals for performance review? ›

Some career goals examples for performance reviews include: Gaining a new skill. Earning a degree or certification in your field. Improving your productivity by a certain percentage.

What is your professional development plan? ›

A professional development plan documents the goals, required skill and competency development, and objectives a staff member will need to accomplish in order to support continuous improvement and career development.

What makes the best professional development? ›

It may seem like investing in technical skills is the most sensible thing to do, but don't overlook soft skills. Competencies like emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration are just as important. These are the types of skills that keep your departments thriving.

How do I write a development plan for myself? ›

How to Create a Personal Development Plan
  1. Step 1: Define Results and Motivation. ...
  2. Step 2: Determine Required Skills. ...
  3. Step 3: Perform a Skills Self-assessment. ...
  4. Step 4: Isolate One Skill. ...
  5. Step 5: Develop an Action Plan.
Feb 13, 2023

What are four 4 features of a good professional development plan? ›

Regardless, there are always 5 elements that every professional development plan should include. They are assessment, goals, resources, strategy, and evaluation. Whether you are working on a PDP for yourself or the people you manage, commitment to each element of the process is key.

How do you write a good performance development plan? ›

Steps to the PDP process
  1. Review performance. ...
  2. Identify goals for improvement. ...
  3. List actionable steps to achieve those goals. ...
  4. Define metrics and milestones. ...
  5. Identify what support and resources are needed. ...
  6. Review and finalize the plan.

What are your professional goals and personal goals? ›

Professional goals relate to your education and career accomplishments, while personal goals focus on your well-being, happiness, and relationships. Professional goals typically follow a schedule that you have control over. This is particularly true for educational objectives, such as completing a degree.

How can I improve myself professionally? ›

Follow these steps to improve yourself professionally:
  1. Read often.
  2. Adopt a new hobby.
  3. Sign up for a training session.
  4. Identify in-demand skills.
  5. Try a new schedule.
  6. Commit to an exercise routine.
  7. Set big goals.
  8. Change your mindset.
Mar 29, 2023

What are the 4 steps to setting and achieving personal goals? ›

4 Steps to Successfully Achieve Your Goals
  • Set SMART Goals. Often our goals can be somewhat vague – “make healthier choices,” “save more money,” “take more time for myself” – which makes achieving them somewhat difficult. ...
  • Automate It. ...
  • Focus on Habit Change. ...
  • Reward Yourself Along the Way.
Jan 13, 2019

Where do I see myself professionally in 5 years? ›

Answer for “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “In five years, I see myself as an integral part of the company who has helped contribute to the growth and success of the organization. I would like to continue developing my skills and knowledge in order to be able to take on more responsibility within the company.

What are some short term professional goals? ›

Here are examples of some of the most relevant professional short-term objectives:
  • Earn a new certificate or degree. ...
  • Improve your performance numbers. ...
  • Improve your networking and communication skills. ...
  • Change your job. ...
  • Improve your work-life balance. ...
  • Waste less time during work hours. ...
  • Make a website for yourself.
Feb 27, 2023

What are you good at professionally? ›

Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Creativity.
  • Discipline.
  • Patience.
  • Respectfulness.
  • Determination.
  • Dedication.

What are your long term goals examples? ›

Here are some examples of long-term objectives: I want to become a leader in the business analyst field. I want to save enough money before my retirement at 60. I want to leave my software engineering job to become a fashion designer.

What are the 3 most important areas of development for you professionally? ›

The three most important areas of development for you professionally are communication, flexibility, and leadership. Communication involves everything from giving presentations to conflict resolution, so it's a vital part of having a successful career.

What are the 5 P's of professional development? ›

In order to gain more control and oversight of your own career management, there are five essential steps that you can take called the Five P's of Career Management. The Five P's correspond to: Possibility, Presence, People, Perspective, and Perseverance.

What are two examples of common development goals? ›

Peace, pollution-free environment, improved health and literacy levels, awareness and control on population are common development goals of the people.

What are the most common development goals? ›

Consider choosing one of these common personal development goals:
  • Improve your time management .
  • Develop emotional intelligence.
  • Cultivate resilience.
  • Listen actively.
  • Develop a growth mindset.
  • Develop a reading habit.
  • Learn new things.
  • Improve your public speaking skills.
Feb 27, 2023

What are the 3 professional skills that you want to improve on? ›

Below are key transferable skills that you should develop to ensure you're on the right path to career progression.
  • Communication and networking skills. ...
  • Leadership and management skills. ...
  • Planning and research skills. ...
  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills. ...
  • Self-management skills.
Jan 10, 2023

What are the 3 C's of professional development? ›

if you want to be successful, focus on the three Cs: confidence, competence and connections.

What areas would you like to improve or develop professionally? ›

Here are 20 common areas of improvement for employees with recommendations for improving each:
  • Time management. The better people can multitask, meet deadlines and manage their time, the more productive they will be at work. ...
  • Customer service. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Interpersonal skills. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Writing. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Flexibility.
May 4, 2023

What are the 6 C's of professional development? ›

Explicitly give your students time to explore each of the 6 Cs as needed: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.

What are the 4 C's professional development? ›

The four C's of 21st Century skills are:

Critical thinking. Creativity. Collaboration. Communication.

What are your key goals for personal and professional development? ›

10 examples of professional development goals
  • Develop a new skill set. ...
  • Develop your workplace skills. ...
  • Take up leadership responsibilities. ...
  • Expand your professional network. ...
  • Level-up your credentials. ...
  • Consume media in your field. ...
  • Find other ways to deepen job satisfaction. ...
  • Take a relevant course.
Jun 15, 2023

What are the four goals of development? ›

The four goals of any field of psychology are description, explanation, prediction, and control.

How do you set professional development goals? ›

To set professional development goals, you first need to determine what you would like to accomplish. Think about both your future and your more immediate hopes. From there, use SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) to write goals you'll end up completing.

What are the 27 sustainable development goals? ›

The SDGs are: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and ...

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