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Whether in your professional or personal life, goal setting is an important step on the road to achievement.  Goals provide a sense of direction, motivation and a clear focus.  Having a goal gives you something to work towards.  It pushes you forward and provides a constant reminder of what you want to achieve.  Goals provide the motivational energy to carry on even when motivation is low.

The most well-known goal-setting technique is SMART.  It is a well-established tool that you can use to plan and achieve your goals.  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.  It is a clear and simple framework that reduces the risk of creating a vague or unclear goal that is unlikely to be achieved.    

 How to create SMART goals:

Specific   

The first part of the SMART goal setting framework is Specific. Create a well-defined, clear and specific goal. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.  Identify some specific reasons, purposes or benefits of accomplishing the goal. There is no point in setting vague goals that don’t achieve anything specific. 

To set a specific goal, consider these ‘W’ questions:

Who: Who is involved in this goal?

What: What do I want to accomplish?

Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?

Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?

A specific goal could be, I want to improve my reporting skills by becoming proficient in Excel. 

Measurable

The next part of the SMART framework is to establish the criteria for measuring progress towards your goal.  When you measure your progress, you stay on track and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal.  If there are no criteria, you will not be able to determine your progress and if you are on track to reach your goal.    

To make a goal measurable, ask yourself:

– How many / much? 

– How do I know if I have reached my goal?

– What is my indicator of progress?  

If the goal is to improve excel skills, then break this goal down into smaller measurable pieces. A measurable goal could be to work on improving excel for 1 hour a week or to complete an excel course.  

Achievable 

A SMART goal must be achievable and attainable.  This will help you figure out ways you can realise the goal and work towards it.  Set a challenging target that stretches your ability but keep it attainable so it can still remain possible. 

Two questions to help you set achievable goals:

– Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?

– Have others done it successfully before?

If the goal is to improve excel skills, identifying an achievable goal will ensure it gets achieved.  For example, if you have limited computer experience then setting a goal to be proficient in excel might be too much of a stretch and perhaps a more achievable goal would be to become a basic user of excel.

Realistic 

A SMART goal must be realistic in that the goal can be realistically achieved given the available resources and time. To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.   A SMART goal is likely to be realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished.

Some questions to ensure your goal is realistic:

– Is the goal realistic and within reach?

– Is the goal reachable, given the time and resources?

– Are you able to commit to achieving the goal?

Timely

A SMART goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date.  If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and, therefore, less motivation to achieve the goal. It is not productive to set a deadline too far in the future for a simple task, or an unrealistically short deadline for something complex and time-consuming.  

Two questions to consider:

– Does your goal have a deadline?

– By when do you want to achieve your goal?

If you want to improve your excel skills, you must schedule time to work and improve this skill and also identify the date when you would like to become proficient at it. 

The next time you are setting a goal either in your professional or personal life, use the SMART goal setting tool.  I hope you enjoyed reading this article and feel free to share this article with anyone you feel might benefit from it.

Creating a CV that highlights your skills and experience effectively is the first step you need to take when looking for a new job.  The purpose of any CV is to get you invited for an interview.  If you have submitted your CV to lots of jobs (that you have the experience for), but you have not been invited for interview, your CV is the issue and it needs some work. 

 

Your CV has roughly 12 seconds to make a positive impression.  It is important that the layout and content of your CV is easy to read and understand within a short timeframe.   In this article, I will outline some simple tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  

 

Tips to create a CV that makes an impact  

CV Layout

Regardless of the amount of experience that you have gained over the past number of years, your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages long.  Any CV that is longer than 2 pages will reduce your chances of your CV doing its job i.e. getting you invited for interviews.  It is quality over quantity when it comes to CV writing.  When you are writing your CV, consider if the information will increase or decrease the chances of your CV doing its job?

 

Professional Photograph

There is no need to include a professional photograph on your CV if you are applying for jobs in Ireland.  Including a professional photograph does not add value to your CV and it takes up valuable space.  However, the requirements are slightly different if you are applying for jobs in a European Country so include a professional photograph on those applications. 

 

Reverse Chronological Order

The content of your CV should be presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the current and most recent work experience and working backwards.  Presenting your CV content in this format highlights your career growth and development, it emphasises the most recent jobs that you held and it is easy for the reader to understand if and when there were any career gaps.  In relation to the education content, you have a choice to either highlight this information in reverse chronological order or you can highlight the most relevant education for the job you are applying for first.  It is a personal preference but both options are accepted.

 

Relevant to the Job

One of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make when they are applying for jobs is that they submit a generic CV to lots of jobs.  This is a recipe for failure.  In order to avoid this error, spend time updating your CV for the job that you would like to apply for.  This will take time but it is time well spent, as this will increase your chances of being invited for interview.  It is much better to apply for less jobs and to spend the time updating your CV for those jobs, than to send a generic CV to lots of jobs.

 

Grammar and Spelling  

Once you have created a CV that is relevant for the job you want to apply for, check your grammar and spelling before you submit your CV for any job application.  It is easy to oversee these errors when you are creating a CV, but it will be the first thing the reader will spot immediately.  Perhaps even get a family member or friend to double check your CV for these errors. 

 

Once you have been invited for an interview, your CV has done its job.  It will then be up to you, to sell your skills and experience effectively during the interview in order to get a job offer. 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you have gained some tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  Please share this article with anyone who might benefit from it. 

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