Whether you are considering a career move or have just graduated with a degree, defining your aspirations is an essential step early in your career. You need to know your final destination and why you want to get there before you embark on an important journey. It is how you know which path to take and the best course of action to reach your goals.
But identifying and articulating career aspirations is often a confusing process for many professionals. In this article, you will learn the essential steps to define yours.
Why Career Aspirations Matter
Let’s first understand why defining your aspirations is essential for your career.
There are several reasons for employers to ask about career aspirations from candidates during interviews. They may want to:
- Check whether the candidate has applied for the right reasons. For instance, hiring managers will want to ensure that the person they employ is not just hunting for random jobs and are genuinely interested in building a career with them.
- Ensure the candidate is the right fit for the business.
- Determine whether the company could help the candidate reach their career goals.
Remember, staff hiring and onboarding involve substantial costs. Every employer wants to hire a candidate who would be with them for several years. Understanding their aspirations is vital to this.
Understanding your aspirations and what you want to achieve as a professional is also critical for planning your career. Chasing dreams and aspirations is much more fun and fulfilling than pursuing random jobs. Besides, it will help you determine what experiences and education you need to excel in your career. It will yield better results along the way and lead you on a path to achieving your long-term goals faster.
How to Define Your Career Aspirations
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to career aspirations. Be authentic and true to yourself. Remember, it is not about impressing others. The goal is to effectively plan your career and win the jobs that will allow you to progress toward your dreams and goals.
Here are the essential steps to get you started:
Define your values and interests.
Your values and interests guide your life decisions in more ways than you may realize. When they inform your career aspirations, you could be on your way to building a rewarding and meaningful career.
Consider values and interests that excite and inspire you. For example, you may be passionate about social justice or environmental preservation. Perhaps work-life balance and having enough time to pursue personal interests might be more important. For some, setting up their own business could be a lifelong dream.
Interests and values are highly personal and will vary between individuals. Generational factors could also influence them.
For example, according to studies, nine in ten Gen Zs are passionate about social causes. It is reflected in their aspirations and career choices, too: they often prioritize purposeful work over jobs that pay higher salaries.
What are your values and interests? Which goals and achievements do you find most meaningful in your life? What would excite you to wake up each day and go to work? Remember, no profession is all fun and play. But when your work is inspiring and meaningful, you will have the drive to carry on no matter how difficult things might get.
Spend enough time to reflect on these questions. The answers will lay the foundation for your career aspirations.
Identify your strengths.
Your strengths in terms of skills, expertise, knowledge, and experience will also inform your aspirations and goals.
These are areas you likely enjoy and have invested significant time into developing over the years. So, it makes every sense to explore them to see how they could guide your career aspirations.
For example, you might enjoy graphic designing. You could have taken it up as a hobby when you were young and built expertise over time. If so, consider whether you would like to pursue it as a profession.
Again, take your time to explore your true strengths. Defining your career aspirations is not a process you should rush.
Get help from a career expert.
A career coach could help map out your true aspirations in ways you will not be able to envision yourself. You can find a local consultant on Leadar. But remember, these career experts could be expensive. So, check their credentials and get a few references before signing up.
Keep it relevant.
Knowing your aspirations is not enough. You should be able to articulate them with meaning and relevance to win your dream job.
If you are asked about your career aspirations at an interview, ensure you align your answer with the job you applied for. Research the company and understand its vision, mission statement, and values. Draft your response carefully in advance, so you can demonstrate how your aspirations align with the organization’s goals and expectations. It doesn’t mean you waver from your true dreams and aspirations. Instead, it is about understanding your potential employer’s expectations, making your career aspirations relevant to them, and helping the organization understand your goals and ambitions better.
A Final Thought
Defining your long-term aspirations early in your career is imperative to plan your path in the years ahead. It will help you build a more fulfilling and rewarding career, no matter what you choose. If you still haven’t defined them, it is better late than never.
Start by identifying your values and interests. These are powerful factors that could lay the foundation for your aspirations. Then determine your strengths. They could include specific skills, knowledge, and experiences that may give you a career edge.
Consider hiring a career coach to help you with this process. And finally, when you get invited to an interview for your dream job, ensure you prepare ahead. Research the company’s vision, mission, values, and goals. It is important to align your aspirations with those of the company and articulate them effectively.
Spend sufficient time on this process. And remember, nothing is set in stone: your career aspirations could change over time as your interests and ambitions evolve.