SMART Goals for Your Job Search

Who knew the process your HR team made you follow might come in handy one day? 

When it comes to achieving any goal, there is a usually a process follow. When it comes to job-hunting, this process is to streamline and analyze your objectives. Once you understand your objective, you will have a better idea of what actions need to be taken, and you can develop a plan. Think of the plan as a set of directions to follow, so the path to your goal won’t be as unknown and challenging.

The Practice of Management, written by Peter Ducker in 1954, was the first book to look at management holistically. Drucker talks about management by objectives (MBO). MBO is the development of simple processes that companies use to make sure they reach their goals and meet commitments within their organization, and it’s still used today.

I’m telling you this because it’s also applicable to personal plans, and you can use this process to make sure you reach your objectives when it comes to landing a job.

MBO commonly consists of five steps, which are also the acronym commonly referred to as SMART goals.

1. Is it specific?

When it comes to getting a job, it’s essential to clarify what you want to achieve first and give that task your full attention. It’s better to accomplish one goal at a time rather than trying to achieve several different goals at the same time.

For instance, listing your skills, writing your resume, or following up after an interview. Each of these is a smaller goal. Focus on each specific one until you reach your main objective, which in this case is getting that new job.

2. Is it measurable?

Measurable objectives are used as assessment tools. Once the objective is defined, it then becomes the foundation for an actionable plan. When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s essential to have a clear objective, along with a plan for completing the tasks necessary to achieve it. For instance, you could plan to compile your list of skills on Thursday, write your resume on Friday and begin applying for positions on Monday.

3. Is it achievable?

The next important factor in setting objectives is ensuring that they are achievable. For instance, an objective, which states “100 percent customer satisfaction”, isn’t likely achievable. It’s naive to expect everyone to be 100 percent satisfied even under perfect conditions. Similarly, your job search objectives should be within your control. “Get called for an interview” isn’t entirely within your control.

Your goals should be challenging, but they should also be attainable. For instance, if you just graduated with no experience, it is unreasonable to think that you’ll get a top management position as your first job. A more attainable objective would be to get an entry-level position with the possibility of moving up to a more prominent position.

4. Is it result-oriented?

When you are looking for a job, consider the things that matter most to you, and set your objectives accordingly. For example, if stability is more important to you than flexibility, set objectives that relate to stability, such as getting a job that has long-term potential, rather than one that offers remote work options.

5. Is it time-bound?

You should set a time limit for accomplishing your goals and reaching your objectives. This is a little challenging when it comes to job hunting because of the outside factors involved, but if you don’t attach a timeline to your goals, then they can be challenging to achieve. For example, you may set an objective of applying to ten companies a month, networking to meet two new people each week, or initiating a conversation with your boss and promotional qualifications.

Taking the time to develop job-hunting objectives that are specific, measurable, and achievable within a certain amount of time will make the process more comfortable, and the end results more obtainable.

We have a SMART goals worksheet that you are free to use in the job search and in your next professional role. Simply email us at for a free copy.