Setting Career Goals with a Disability

Setting Career Goals with a Disability was originally published by Diversity Jobs

Every employee desires to do well at their job, value constructive criticism, welcome variety in their work, and strive for career advancement.  If you have a disability or are striving to better your career, individually setting professional goals or working toward shared goals with an employer that believes in you can be a powerful force in achieving your ultimate dream career.

If you are looking for employment, your career goals might focus on:

Looking at professions that play to your skills, passions, and personality. You should look for something that both interests you and would be fun to do. Think of anything that you’re good at that sets you apart from the crowd. Abilities such as project planning and development expertise, numeracy, and memory recall accuracy are all examples of highly desirable traits.

Engaging with local organizations and consult your social circle for personal recommendations. Sign up for certain courses that will ease your move into your desired line of work. A career counselor may even be available at some institutions to assist students in making informed career decisions.

Researching specifics of jobs you may be interested in. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics catalogs the best paid occupations, the most in-demand positions, and explores various industries. The site lists the median compensation and the usual education and skills necessary for employment for more specific professions.

If you are currently employed, your career goals might focus on:

Asking for financial and logistical support from your employer so that you can take advantage of educational and professional development opportunities. Employees that are interested in expanding their skill sets and finding a great career fit for themselves can do so by strategically moving laterally across the organization. Employees with disabilities benefit from job rotations because it gives them exposure to all areas of the business and helps exemplify how their talents may be applied in different roles.

Having a direct conversation about your professional goals with your supervisor. They should offer input and assist you to settle on objectives and a strategy for accomplishing them.

Finding an established colleague or a friend who works in your desired profession who can act as a mentor. A mentors can help you in gaining insight into the marketability of your skills into potential career paths; making and maintaining professional connections; receiving constructive feedback on imperative skills.

Relentlessly pursuing opportunities for learning and development. Build your network and stay abreast of developments in your profession.

Creating your Career Goals: The SMART Method

Use this method to outline the specifics of your career goals. They should be:

  • Specific: Your goals must be specific and measurable. A well-defined objective will point you in the right direction. Use as precise wording as possible to define your goal.
  • Measurable: Don’t be vague; provide time frames, exact numbers, and other relevant details. You can more easily monitor your development and evaluate your achievements if you use hard, quantifiable data.
  • Achievable: Make sure you have a credible chance of succeeding at your goals. Your self-assurance might dip if you set an unrealistic target for yourself. Setting objectives that are both tough and achievable is the sweet spot.
  • Relevant: To succeed, you’ll need a healthy dose of motivation. Goal-setting that is consistent with your values is a great way to ensure success.
  • Time-Bound: In order to recognize when you’ve accomplished your goal, you need a deadline. One effective strategy for achieving long-term objectives is to divide them into more manageable chunks.

It’s the accumulation of small successes that will lead you to your destination. Set your sights on the future and make plans for your success.


Disability Career Development. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Goal Setting. (2017). Retrieved from

Simmons, K., & Davis, B. (2010). Autism and Tomorrow. Seattle, WA: Exceptional Resources.

Soraya, L. (2013). Living independently on the autism spectrum. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media.

By Nora Diaz-Vasquez
Nora Diaz-Vasquez Career Counselor