Job hunting? It pays to set SMART goals

By Teboho Polanka

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash
Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Let’s begin with an allegory: say we have two rugby teams to compete for national championship. One team (A) gets pretty serious about winning and shows this by engaging in both in-season and out-of-season training. The other team (B) looks at its previous matches as motivation to win the next big thing. Of the two, team A has qualified up to this far. Which of the two teams would you bet for?

Would you prefer team (B) because its previous winning streak? If not, why? Or would you rather place your bets on team (A) that not only shows desire to win but also shows tenacious determination to make it happen?

Well we look at this and readily know that in sports arenas, teams that don’t prepare will most likely lose. Yet when it comes to real life issues we somehow throw out this knowledge out the window of our minds. For instance, to succeed academically, at any level, you must prepare – attend classes and study – or else you run the risk of failing.

This is a fact even with job searching. No one lands-in a job because they simply are desperate about getting that job. Without doing your assignment you’re bound to fail in the job market.

Finding a job is a job itself, and can be stressful to work through. It is a known fact that there are basic skills that we all need to transform ourselves into most sought-after candidates. It’ll take a lot of time and effort to become the best at this.

A job search can be adventurous or mind-boggling. But for this piece let’s see how it can be an exciting pursuit:

Success in job hunting will require SMART goals and a definite direction to take.

You need SPECIFIC goals in order to undertake your job hunt successfully. There has to be a number of defined goals, otherwise you’ll just be fighting as one without aim. Have you ever seen a mad man fighting nothing?

That’s you in your job search without defined goals. Say your end or desired goal is to be a community worker, you have no business looking for the experience in computer programming agencies.

Equally important, aspired goals from above should be MEASURABLE. Its time and effort consuming to undertake any endeavor to secure a job if you can’t know with certainty whether or not you are achieving your goals.

Many individuals get into job hunting without any measurable goals, which is why their hunt ends up devastating. Say you want to be a community worker from our previous example, you’ll need to have established indicators to determine if your pursuit will end in success.

Also you’ll need to ensure that your goals are ACHIEVABLE. Some people are way too ambitious, I mean they aspire to become so much. For instance, a newly graduated individual who desires to be a game-changer or have world changing innovations.

For starters, they know a little about the world of work and the market, and may in fact bring in what customers may not necessarily need. So sometimes these ambitious undertakings end up discouraging. Which is why when setting goals, individuals need to ensure their practicality.

Furthermore, you’ll need to have RELEVANT goals. Its madness to just have goals for the sake of having goals. The market needs and can also provide only realistic and relevant goals. Also the irrelevance of your goals will be suicidal. So establish relevant goals to fit in your expectations.

Lastly, your goals should be TIME-BOUND. It is important to have goals that are achievable within a given time frame. Just being in the job hunt will amount to nothing much if you don’t have time-bound goals.

The greatest value in all this and in life is not what you get, but what you ultimately become.


Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.