January 19, 2024

How to Create a SMART Goal Plan for Your Job Search in the New Year

The New Year is a great time to reflect on your career aspirations and set some goals for your job search. Whether you are looking for a new job, a promotion, or a career change, having a clear and realistic plan can help you achieve your desired outcomes.

However, setting goals is not enough. You also need to make sure that your goals are SMART. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the five criteria that can help you create effective and meaningful goals that will guide your actions and motivate you to succeed.
In this blog post, we will explain what each of these criteria means and how to apply them to your job search goals. We will also provide some examples of SMART goals and some tips on how to track and review your progress.

SMART goals are goals that are:

Specific: They are clear and well-defined, not vague or general. They answer the questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Measurable: They have tangible and quantifiable indicators that can help you track your progress and evaluate your success. They answer the question of how much, how many, or how often.
Achievable: They are realistic and attainable, not impossible or unrealistic. They are within your reach and match your skills, abilities, and resources. They answer the question of how you can accomplish them.
Relevant: They are aligned with your values, interests, and career vision, not irrelevant or unrelated. They are meaningful and beneficial to you and your situation. They answer the question of why you want to achieve them.
Time-bound: They have a specific deadline or timeframe, not open-ended or indefinite. They create a sense of urgency and accountability. They answer the question of when you will achieve them.

SMART goals are important because they can help you:

  • Clarify what types of jobs you see yourself in and the direction you want to take for your career path
  • Break down large and complex goals, like compiling a portfolio for a marketing position, into manageable and realistic steps
  • Track your progress and celebrate your achievements
  • Motivate yourself to overcome challenges and stay focused


How to Create SMART Goals for Your Job Search

To create SMART goals for your job search, you need to follow a few steps:

Identify your career objective. What is your ultimate goal or desired outcome? For example, do you want to find a new job in a different industry, get a promotion in your current company, or start your own business?

Break down your objective into smaller and more manageable goals. What are the specific actions or steps that you need to take to achieve your objective? For example, do you need to update your resume, network with potential employers, or take an online course?

Apply the SMART criteria to each of your goals. Make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Use the questions above to guide you and write down your goals in a clear and concise way.

Review and revise your goals as needed. Your goals are not set in stone and you may need to adjust them according to your changing circumstances, feedback, or opportunities. Keep track of your progress and celebrate your milestones.

Here are some examples of SMART goals for different job search scenarios:

  • Create a customized resume and cover letter for each job opening I want to apply for by next Sunday
  • Identify and contact at least three organizations that offer career counseling and support for people with disabilities within the next month (We know our team at CCRW would love to support you)
  • Enroll in an online course or workshop that will improve my skills and qualifications for my desired job by the end of the year
  • Attend at least two networking events or job fairs related to my field of interest every month
  • Follow up with every employer or recruiter I interact with within 24 hours of the initial contact


Tips on How to Track and Review Your Progress

Creating SMART goals is only the first step. You also need to monitor and evaluate your progress regularly and make sure that you are on track to achieve your desired results. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Write down your SMART goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them
  • Set deadlines and milestones for each step and mark them on your calendar
  • Track your progress and measure your success using data and feedback
  • Identify and overcome obstacles that may hinder your goal achievement
  • Keep your goal top of mind and stay motivated by celebrating your achievements and learning from your failures


You can also use different free software to help you:

  • Use a spreadsheet tool like Excel or Google Sheets. Find templates online that can help you or create one from scratch.
  • is a project and task management software that can help you through their free level.
  • Google Docs has a functionality called building blocks that can help you track progress within a document where you can also store other information and notes.
  • Microsoft Loop is a new tool from Microsoft that you can use with a Microsoft personal account to track your progress.
  • Notion is a cloud based software that offers a lot of flexibility to create plans and trackers to help you stay on task.



Setting SMART goals for your job search can help you create a clear and realistic plan that will guide your actions and motivate you to succeed. By following the SMART criteria, you can ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You can also track and review your progress regularly and adjust your goals as needed. By doing so, you can increase your chances of finding and landing your dream job in the New Year.

Are you a job seeker with a disability who would benefit from coaching and goal setting with an Employment Coach? Contact us to speak to a member of our team.


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