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What are you looking for in your next role: mention your goals

What are you looking for in your next role: mention your goals

Artwork by: Martoz

  • What are career goals?
  • What are some examples of career goals?
  • Describe what you are looking for in your next job 
  • How to answer the question: “What are you looking for in your next role?”
  • Sample answer
  • Why hiring managers ask what you’re looking for in your next role
  • Sample answer
  • Don’t forget to do your research!
  • Key takeaways

Every step in your career journey makes an impact. Mention your goals during your next interview to ensure you’re moving in the right direction. In this article, we will give you tips, advice, and examples of how to describe what you are looking for in your next job.

Being asked in a job interview about your overarching career goals can feel daunting. Are they looking for a specific answer? Will what you say cause you to lose this opportunity? It can feel like a trick question. But an employer who asks their candidates about their future is allowing each individual to have a say in the projection of their career—that’s a good thing! If you’re wondering how to answer, “What are you looking for in your next role,” we’ve got you covered.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What career goals are and how to find yours (with examples)

  • How to answer the question: Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • The difference between career goals and goals for a specific position

  • How to answer questions about your goals during an interview

What are career goals?

Goal setting should be an integral part of every person’s life. When it comes to career goals, you can have specific goals, such as being the COO of a national adventure clothing brand. Or they can be broader, like working in the industry of adventure sports. 

Goal setting can help you expand yourself, and to do so, it’s important to not let your goals be self-limiting. If you set a goal of working in IT project management but then fall into the world of video production, roll with it! Set a new goal, pursue it, check in with yourself in a year, and keep going from there. Career goals can mirror your life and personal goals, or they can be used as a way to keep your eyes on the horizon.

Expert Tip

Get into the habit of regularly writing down your goals so you can look back six months or a year later. Ask yourself if you achieved your goals, and what might have helped or hindered you. Contemplate whether your previous goal is even relevant to you anymore, and make adjustments as needed.

What are some examples of career goals?

There’s no correct way to choose your career goals, as it’s entirely subjective. Every single person will have a different idea of what it’ll look like, and that’s a great thing. You’ll find that most people don’t have a linear career path by the end of their careers. 

Here are six examples of career goals that are loosely time-sensitive and with low consequence:

  1. Join the management team within the next three years

  2. Produce high-visibility events

  3. Have the option to work overtime

  4. Implement a new strategy within your department

  5. Work with specific clientele

  6. Travel or relocate for work 

Describe what you are looking for in your next job 

You might get the standard, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or, possibly, “How would you like to grow within this role?” To best answer this question, try offering a mix of your broad career goals along with specific-to-this-role goals. 

Try to think of a way to theoretically bridge the two. If you are applying to work at the reception desk of a dentist's office, try suggesting that this job will get you familiar with the industry and terminology, which you hope will benefit you when you go to school for dental hygiene. In five years, you hope to be employed by the company still, but differently, as a dental hygienist. 

How to answer the question: “What are you looking for in your next role?”

When someone asks you during an interview, “What are you looking for in a job?” this is an invitation to speak to your future career goals, but you should approach it from the perspective of those goals being dependent on the position you're applying to. 

For example, if your career goal is to work in eco-home building, and you are applying for a position as a project manager at a commercial building company, try building a link from the work that company does, and the experience you would gain in that role, to ultimate long-term goal.

Sample answer

“What are you looking for in your next role?”

  • “I want to someday specialize in eco-friendly homebuilding, so I hope to work for a company that supports professional development through certifications and courses in environmentally responsible building practices.”

Even if the company doesn’t already have a professional development course in place, this could very well prompt them to do so, upon which you’d find yourself in an excellent position!

Why hiring managers ask what you’re looking for in your next role

Hiring managers have one purpose when they ask, “What are you ideally looking for in your next role?” It may sound like a trick question, but it’s pretty straightforward: they want to know if your goals line up with the company’s goals and what the position entails. They’re trying to get an idea if this is the right position for you. They want to know what you liked (or didn’t like) about your last position, and why you’re looking to leave your current position. It's important to be honest and direct: if the position can't offer anything that aligns with what you're looking for, it's best to let the interviewer know before you get too far into the interviewing process.

Make sure that your answer isn’t vague. Saying something like, “Well, I’m keeping an open mind” sends a message to the hiring manager that says, “I am not going to commit to this job or the company.” So what should you say instead? 

Sample answer

“What are you ideally looking for in your next role?”

  • “I have been in my current position at ABC Company for five years. I’ve liked working there and I feel I’ve made significant contributions to the Marketing team, but I'm no longer finding the work itself to be gratifying. Since my company underwent a restructuring process last year, I am no longer doing much in the way of client-facing work, which is what I've always found most rewarding.

Ideally, what I’m looking for in my next role is a chance to interact more with clients in a way that is productive and beneficial for the company. I’m also interested in working for a company with strong values that focus on community involvement and reducing their overall carbon footprint, which is something I know is also important to this company.”

Don’t forget to do your research!

A great way to use your goals to your advantage during an interview is to research the company beforehand. The best work environments are mutually beneficial. So, if you present a goal to your interviewer that aligns perfectly with what the position or company offers, it’ll make you stand out. 

Try mentioning that you’ve always wanted to work for a company that:

  • Hires from within

  • Supports the same charities you do

  • Allows employees to pick their holiday dates

  • Offers the benefits they do (specific benefits, like free childcare, a gym membership, education reimbursement, retirement matching, etc.)

The biggest key to letting your goals guide your career is to honor them. Your goals come from a very personal place, you deserve to see how they play out. Remember, the workforce is competitive, and if you’ve been looking for a job for months, it can be enticing to accept the first offer that comes your way. But in reality, if it doesn’t speak to at least one of your career goals, accepting that job would put you farther away from where you want to be. Of course, along the way, you might uncover new goals you hadn’t thought about before! But keep this in mind as you move through the application process. If something in the back of your head is telling you that a particular position is not for you, it might be worth walking away. 

Thinking about polishing your interviewing skills? Our Interview Prep tool offers customized AI feedback to help build your confidence and ace your next interview.

Key takeaways

  1. Goals are more like guidelines than rules. Let them flow with you.

  2. Use your goals to your advantage in an interview. Research the company beforehand to make your goals align with what they offer. 

  3. The right opportunity will present itself; only take a job if you’re sure it fits into your goals in some way.

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