How to Define Your Goals for a Successful Job Search

You may be reading this title thinking to yourself, “Isn’t the goal of a job search to get a job?”

This is a fact, but to get the right job, you should have a more defined goal than simply being employed.

This article will help you to hone in on exactly what you want from a job so that you can succeed in not only getting any job but getting the perfect job for you.

1. Start Small

When people define their goals, they often think of their biggest aspirations. While there is no shame in dreaming, everyone has to start realistically then work their way up.

So, don’t get carried away when you are trying to define your goals for your job hunt. Instead, stick with what you can realistically achieve today.

Don’t ever lose focus of what you really want, but you will never get to your long-term goal without reaching a few short-term goals first.

2. Be Specific

Vague goals will get you nowhere. It’s similar to when you tell your friend, “Hey! We should get together sometime!”

If you don’t set a date and a time, you’re never seeing that friend. It’s the same for your goals.

You need to be as specific as possible about what you want from your job, or you won’t see results.

Many people swear by the SMART goal-setting strategy. SMART is an acronym for the parameters of setting a goal. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

When a goal meets these five criteria, it will be easier to reach.

Learn how to use this tactic here.

3. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Knowing where we shine can help us determine which path makes more sense for us.

Obviously, if we are aware that we struggle with leading a team, we wouldn’t want to pursue a position in management.

To get a better sense of your personal pros and cons, it may require taking a survey of your peers, friends, and loved ones. Ask them what they consider to be your best asset and what you may need to work on.

Apply this information to what you already believe to be your strengths and weaknesses and compare these abilities to the requirements on job postings.

4. Remember Your Favorite Childhood Activity

It can be difficult for adults to find their perfect job because they have forgotten their passion.

In the rare instance when a person can make their career their passion, they are truly happy. Moreover, they make a living doing what they love! It doesn’t get any better than that!

For many, the problem isn’t finding a job that matches their passion but figuring out what they are actually passionate about.

If you relate to this dilemma, it may help to close your eyes and remember your best times at play when you were a child. What were you doing?

Did you spend most of your days outside or in the house? Did you enjoy playing with toys or creating things? Could you spend hours catching bugs or watching the birds?

What was your dynamic with other kids? Were you the leader, the peacemaker, or the rebel?

Thinking back to times before you were molded and pressured by responsibilities can help you to identify what you truly care about. Then you can hunt for a job that will match your priorities.

5. Enlist the Help of a Professional

No matter how many jobs we’ve applied to, we can’t say that we don’t feel awkward putting ourselves out there, even if just a little.

Searching for a job requires determination, a positive attitude, and the ability to ask for help when we need it.

This is especially true when it comes to signing a contract for employment. The lingo on these wordy documents can get confusing, and if we sign before we completely understand it, we risk being stuck in a job that’s not a right fit.

It is always wise to get a professional to perform a contract review so they can point out any concerns they have or answer any of our questions before we sign on the dotted line. Learn more here.

6. Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Networking isn’t always about getting your foot in the door. Sometimes, a professional network can help you to learn what is available.

When you are asking the right questions and mingling with the right people, you may be able to more clearly define your career goals.

In fact, you may learn about an opportunity through our social network that you didn’t even know was on the table. This opportunity may be your golden ticket to your dream job.

Through intellectual conversation about your goals, you can come to conclusions that were not there before.

Sharing your job search with some of your acquaintances will only solidify in your own mind to continue reaching out for your goals. Now that others know what your goals are, you feel more accountable to make them a reality.

7. Visualize Your Success

If you think you know what your goals are for your job search, visualize yourself reaching those goals.

This activity helps in two ways.

First, it will help you decide whether your goal is truly what you want. If the picture you saw in your head isn’t what you expected, you may need to change your goal.

If your visualization exercise turns out to be successful, seeing yourself reaching your goals can help to make it a reality.

Regular visualization exercises can also help you see potential roadblocks and challenges you may encounter and develop solutions.


With these career goals in place, your job hunt will be a lot more productive. You’ll have a more targeted search and will be quicker to identify the pros and cons of a prospective position from the get-go.

Use the tips above to define your goals before you begin your search for your next big job.