Have you considered your long-term career goals lately? If you’re in the IT industry, it can be easy to trudge along, simply completing day-to-day work (which can be hard enough in any role!).

However, long-term career goals can be essential for professional success and personal growth. In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive guide to why long-term career goals matter and how they can enhance your professional development, as well as offer strategies for setting the right goals and examples of potential career goals in IT.

And a special bonus: we’ll share a super way to use Wrike to track your goals.

long-term career goals
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What are long-term career goals? 

First, it’s essential to understand that long-term career goals are goals you have for your career decades into the future. You may have short-term career goals, like achieving a specific promotion within the next year, but your long-term career goals will encompass more significant, broader achievements that will take you years to accomplish. These might be goals like owning your own IT firm or serving in a managerial role.

(We actually have a full, free guide to goal setting with a clear explainer on short- versus long-term goals if you’d like to go into more detail.)

Why long-term career goals are important 

You might wonder whether you need to make long-term career goals, especially if you’re satisfied in your current role. Well, career advisers typically recommend making — and writing down — long-term career goals for a few reasons. 

The role of long-term goals in career progression

Long-term career goals act as guiding beacons, providing clarity and direction in the ever-changing landscape of the IT industry and enabling career progression for IT workers. Long-term goals provide a framework for professionals to map out their desired trajectory and identify the necessary steps to climb the ladder. 

Effectively, long-term goals enable IT professionals to create a framework that outlines the skills, qualifications, and experiences they need to acquire over time to reach their ultimate career destination. Without such a framework, IT professionals might miss out on key career advancements because they haven’t taken the proper training or gained adequate experience for a new role. 

Professionals with long-term goals also tend to take ownership of their career development. They are more willing to actively seek growth opportunities, take on challenging projects, and proactively network with industry professionals to expand their knowledge and connections.

Without concrete long-term goals, it becomes challenging to make informed decisions and measure progress along the career path. Wrike is a particularly useful tool for creating a roadmap that can direct you on that path because we offer so many different ways to view individual tasks and the progress you’ve made in completing them. For example, our Table view will allow you to see which tasks have been ticked off and which need more work. 

project kickoff

How long-term goals create a growth mindset

Long-term career goals act as catalysts for growth, pushing IT professionals to expand their knowledge and skill sets constantly. By setting ambitious goals, professionals are motivated to seek learning opportunities and stay current with emerging trends and technologies.

Additionally, long-term goals foster resilience, perseverance, and flexibility. In the face of challenges or setbacks, IT professionals with clear career goals are more likely to persevere and overcome obstacles. With a vision of their desired future, those with clear career goals are willing to invest the time and effort needed to overcome temporary setbacks and stay on track toward achieving their long-term goals.

Long-term goals also promote adaptability and agility. IT professionals who have set long-term goals are better equipped to navigate change and embrace new opportunities because they understand the importance of staying flexible and open-minded, allowing them to pivot their career paths when necessary without losing sight of their ultimate objectives.

setting long-term career goals
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Setting the right long-term career goals in IT

Landing on the right long-term career goals can be tricky and requires careful consideration — once set, you’ll be making smaller milestones to reach those goals. When you head down one path in the IT industry, it can be difficult (although not impossible) to switch tracks.

Here are some key steps to take when embarking on this important journey:

Identify your career interests and passions

Long-term goals won’t be worth pursuing unless they reflect your career interests and passions within the IT field. First, you’ll want to consider the areas that genuinely excite you and spark your curiosity. Is it a specific facet of AI? Cybersecurity? Cloud computing? Data science? The IT world is vast, but you’ll want to narrow it down so you know what area to pursue. 

Identifying your passions will help you align your long-term career goals with your natural inclinations, making the journey toward those goals more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

Align your goals with industry trends

As you set your long-term career goals, you’ll want to stay on top of the latest advancements and changes in the IT landscape. This will enable you to determine the best route to take for the future. If you can pinpoint a growing trend that interests you, that can help shape your career goals. 

Start by researching and keeping an eye on technological developments shaping the industry. Listen to podcasts from journalists in the field (we’re partial to Hard Fork, a podcast from The New York Times that examines emerging AI) and subscribe to industry newsletters. Aligning your career goals with the direction of the industry will ensure that your skills remain relevant and in demand.

Consider future technological advancements

While it’s impossible to predict every IT development, exploring emerging technologies can give you a glimpse into the industry’s future, which can inform your future IT career goals. By incorporating emerging technologies into your long-term plans, you can stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in the IT job market. Embracing change and continuously updating your skill set will ensure you are well prepared for any challenges and opportunities.

Long-term career goals
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Examples of long-term career goals for IT professionals

Moving into a particular role or to the top of the proverbial career ladder could be among your long-term career goals. The list of possible IT career options is long, but we’ve pulled a shortlist of options to consider as you make your long-term IT career goals. 

Senior IT manager

One long-term goal for IT professionals in various areas of expertise is to become a manager or department leader. To achieve this long-term career goal, you’ll need leadership and project management skills as well as a strong technical foundation. 

To manage others and ensure the successful execution of projects, you need the ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders and manage resources efficiently. You would also help set the strategic direction for the IT department and align it with the organization’s overall goals.

Finally, you need to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies. Becoming a senior IT manager would require continuous learning and professional development to ensure you have the knowledge and skills to drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Cybersecurity specialist

As a cybersecurity specialist, your primary focus would be identifying and preventing security breaches and ensuring information systems’ confidentiality, integrity, and availability. You would conduct vulnerability assessments, implement security measures, and respond to incidents effectively. 

You’d also need to stay ahead of emerging threats and constantly adapt your strategies to counter new attack vectors. Consider obtaining specialized certifications, developing expertise in risk assessment and mitigation, and staying up to date with the latest security technologies. This field is ever-evolving, and continuous learning and professional development are essential to protect organizations from cyber threats effectively.

IT consulting firm leader

For some IT professionals, the long-term goal may be establishing and leading their own IT consulting firm. This ambitious goal involves honing both technical and business skills, as well as building a network of clients and industry contacts. As the leader of your own consulting firm, you would provide expert advice and guidance to a diverse range of clients, help solve complex technological challenges, and contribute to the growth of your business.

Leading an IT consulting firm requires technical expertise and strong business acumen. You would need to develop skills in areas such as sales, marketing, finance, and human resources to manage and grow your firm successfully. Overall, building a reputation for delivering high-quality services and establishing strong relationships with clients is crucial to the success of your consulting business.

Strategies to achieve your long-term career goals

To achieve your long-term goals, you’ll need a strong overarching strategy designed to get you to your desired role over time. 

Here are some strategies that can help you pave the way toward success:

Embrace continuous learning and skill development

Embrace a mindset of lifelong learning and commit to continuous skill development. Stay current with the latest advancements in your field through online courses, certifications, workshops, and industry conferences. By constantly expanding your knowledge and skill sets, you are equipping yourself with the tools to progress towards your long-term career goals.

Continuous learning is not just about acquiring new knowledge; it also involves honing your existing skills. Take the time to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and identify areas where you can improve. Seek out specialized training programs or workshops that can help you enhance your expertise in specific areas. By investing in your skill development, you position yourself as a valuable asset in the competitive job market.

Become a master of networking and building professional relationships

Cultivate a strong professional network by engaging with colleagues, professionals, and industry leaders. Attend networking events, join relevant professional communities, and connect with fellow IT professionals on platforms like LinkedIn. Building relationships within the industry can open doors to new opportunities, mentorship, and valuable insights.

Networking is not just about collecting business cards or adding connections on social media. It’s about building genuine relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Take the time to attend industry conferences and events to meet professionals who share your interests and aspirations. Engage in meaningful conversations, listen actively, and offer your expertise and support whenever possible. By nurturing these relationships, you are creating a network of individuals who can vouch for your skills and might even recommend you for exciting career opportunities.

Seek quality mentorship and guidance

Don’t underestimate the power of mentorship. Find experienced professionals who can provide guidance, share insights, and serve as role models for your long-term career goals. Seek mentors who have succeeded in areas aligned with your aspirations, and leverage their knowledge and expertise to navigate your career journey more effectively.

Mentorship is a two-way street. While you benefit from the wisdom and guidance of your mentor, you also have the opportunity to contribute to their growth and development. Actively seek feedback from your mentor, share your progress and challenges, and be open to constructive criticism. By fostering a strong mentor-mentee relationship, you create a support system to help you overcome obstacles and make informed decisions.

Set SMART goals 

Of course, working toward long-term career goals won’t be as effective if you don’t set small, achievable goals to get you there over time. For most, setting SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) is key. You need to be able to track your progress against those SMART goals over time so you can adjust your longer-term career goals if necessary. 

Plus, according to Mark Murphy, senior contributor at Forbes, “People who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish their goals.” 

We actually have a comprehensive guide to making SMART goals that you can explore in depth. Wrike is the perfect place to log smart goals because you can tag them into multiple places, eliminating the need to duplicate goals that might fit into your personal career goals as well as professional development plans. Our cross-tagging feature sets us apart and saves our customers valuable time and energy. 


Using Wrike to achieve your long-term career goals

We’ve long used Wrike internally to track personal, team-wide, and departmental goals, so we know it’s a tool that makes a difference.

You can get start right away with Wrike’s prebuilt templates specifically designed for goal setting. Whether setting business goals or tracking OKRs, our templates make it easy for you to aim for, shoot at, and hit your targets.

Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.