Major Career Goal Setting Mistakes You Are Likely Making

Executive Vice President five years in? Check. Six-figure salary by year three? Check. Corner office with a view of the city by year two? Check.

Admit it, at some point along your career path you thought one of the above (or something along those lines) was a realistic career goal expectation. We have all been there—usually when we were fresh college graduates getting ready to tackle the world for the first time.

Now, this isn’t saying you should not have big dreams or career aspirations. Trust me that is the last thing anyone wants for job seekers and professionals out there. What it is saying is that job seekers are making mistakes when it comes to setting goals for their career growth, and because some of those goals are pretty lofty to attain in such a short period of time, they are setting themselves up for disappointment before getting their feet wet.

After speaking to a recruiter in the employment industry, they provided two common career goal setting mistakes they have encountered when screening candidates and placing them with their clients. Let’s take a look at what they had to say.

It’s Not All About the Benjamins

A little known fact about the recruiting industry is that many recruiters are responsible for re-filling a job position for a client if the person hired leaves within a certain timeframe.

Why is this important? Because they usually have a good idea of when their candidates are taking a job for the wrong reasons—and this is something they detailed was a major career goal setting problem for job seekers.

“I recently had a placement leave their job within a couple of weeks, and I should have seen it coming. This person checked all of the boxes on paper, but something seemed off during the hiring process. Every time I asked them if the job would make them happy, they said the money I am getting paid will take care of that.”

The recruiter continued, “This should have been a major red flag for me, but the hiring manager loved my candidate and offered him the job on the spot in the first interview. After working there for less than a month, they told me they were not happy at the job and needed to find something else.”

The story of this placement being “all about the Benjamins” and then leaving within a month is a major cautionary tale for job seekers. We all have goals of rising up the ladder and making as much money as possible, but you must factor career happiness into your goal setting as well.

Clearly in the case of this job seeker, happiness was more important to them than they thought during the hiring process, and it not only burned the job seeker, but the company as well.

How can this be avoided in your own goal setting? Let’s ask the recruiter.

“Listen, money is important … but clearly happiness is more important. There are people out there who are going to tell people they won’t like their job, but that just is not the case. This is 2017, you have the opportunity to go to school for something you like, turn it into a career and get paid. If you are taking a job just for a paycheck, you should really re-evaluate your situation.”

Hard Work Doesn’t Always Pay Off

I can remember my family members saying this to me all the time growing up. “If you work hard, it will pay off in the end.” If they meant feeling burned out and being barely able to put together a 1,000-word article from working 10 and 12 hour days was the pay off, then they nailed that on the head—kidding.

In all seriousness, what the previous generations failed to mention to many professionals today is that there needs to be a work-life balance, and a lack of one could have a major negative impact on your life.

Speaking to our good recruiting friend from the previous section, they had an interesting quote about work-life balance. “Companies want you to eat, breathe and sleep your job, but then they wonder why so many employees are leaving their companies within a year or two. Many attribute it to the fact they couldn’t handle the work, but that is not the case when I speak to that placement when they are walking away.”

The recruiter continued, “Many of those walking away will tell me how they burned themselves out trying to make a major impact on the company right out of the gate. They kept getting positive reinforcement about how great their work was, so they pushed and pushed harder for that same sense of gratification. In the end, they could not give what they were giving early on and when the positive reinforcement went away, so did their motivation.”

The situation the recruiter detailed for us is a common one, and also a difficult line to walk for an employee. On one side, you have an employee who has goals and wants to prove themselves worthy. But on the other, you have to remember you are a person who can only burn the candle at both ends for so long.

How can you manage this?

It isn’t easy, but the best suggestion given to us by our recruiter friend was to set goals that are attainable within your required time IN the office. Sure, it is great to get that adoration from your manager for sending those emails at 8 p.m. at night and going the extra mile, but your personal life could likely be suffering at the same time—which will eventually lead to that crash and burn detailed above.

Final Word

It is never wrong to set career goals. Most job seekers want to climb the ladder, make a whole bunch of money and prove to themselves they can be the best at what they do.

But many make the mistake of forgetting to factor job happiness and work-life balance into the occasion. And when that happens, it can usually derails all of those career goals pretty quick.

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