How SMART goals can improve your job search

Guides, Jobseeker, Jobseekers / 09 December 2021

When you’re on the hunt for a new job, or even your first job, the process can seem overwhelming as you tackle your CV, source vacancies, and keep track of your job applications. Alternatively, you may have no trouble at all handling the job applications and interviews, but ultimately face job offers that just don’t fit with your envisioned career path.Both of these problems often come down to one factor: a lack of initial goal setting. That’s where SMART goals can make all the difference.

How SMART goals can improve your job search


What are SMART goals?

SMART is a method of creating effective, targeted goals. It stands for:

S = specific
M = measurable
A = attainable
R = relevant
T = time-bound

A SMART goal makes it clear what you want to achieve (specific), provides a way to measure your success (measurable), ensures that the goal is realistic (attainable) and suits your overall purpose (relevant), and that it has a deadline (time-bound).

So how does SMART help you?

Specific (S)
Creating a specific goal makes it clear what you are striving for and provides a definite path to follow. It removes the obstacle of distractions and detours, and identifies what steps you need to take to achieve that goal.


Measurable (M)
You might think that having set a goal, for instance, research local employers, you can just get on with it. However, some tasks – such as research – can be vague and difficult to measure. Instead of simply ‘research local employers’, make it ‘research 50 local employers’. This makes it easy to see whether you have achieved your goal.


Attainable (A)
This is the reality check. Are you striving for something that you can achieve or are you setting yourself up for failure and upset? It might be that your ultimate dream job is beyond your reach right now, but you can easily find a job that moves you one step closer to your dream.


Relevant (R)
Each goal should assist your overall purpose. Remember those distractions and detours I mentioned? This element of SMART checks that you are on the right path.


Time-bound (T)
Like M, this element of SMART provides a way to measure your success. By setting a deadline, you can clearly see whether you have completed your task. Working to a deadline will also help to maintain your focus and motivation.


How to use SMART goals in your job search

The best way to use the SMART method in your job search is by breaking the process down into a series of smaller SMART goals.

What steps will you take to land that job? Your list of steps might look like:

  • research jobs
  • write CV
  • research local employers
  • create profile on LinkedIn
  • build number of contacts on LinkedIn
  • look for suitable job vacancies
  • research related employers
  • adapt CV to each job vacancy
  • apply for jobs

By the way, if you need help with your CV, why not read our Eight Easy Steps to create a Winning CV.

The next stage is to apply the five aspects of SMART to each task to create a goal. Be clear what you want that goal to be. Include a way to measure the success of your goal. Check that you can achieve that goal; is it realistic? Make sure that the goal will help you to progress towards your overall purpose, in this case, finding a new job. Add a deadline for the completion of your goal.

Set up a spreadsheet of your goals, type them up into a Word document, or simply keep a written record. As you reach the deadline for each goal, assess whether you were successful. Again, apply that reality check. If you achieved the goal, celebrate. If you failed, re-assess and set a new goal. This record can also help you to keep track of your job applications.


Examples of SMART goals

I want to find a new accountant position that pays a minimum of £30,000 within the next six months.

I will refresh my CV with my latest job history and qualifications, making sure it fits on one page, by the end of this week.

I will create my LinkedIn profile and create a network of 100 accountancy and recruiter connections within one month.

I will apply for five accountant vacancies that pay at least £30,000 every fortnight.


Wrapping it up

Using SMART goals in your job search really is a smart move. Applying the five elements of this method will help you to stay focused, take constructive steps towards landing a job, and maintain your motivation. Good luck.

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