There is no rule requiring everyone to have long-range objectives. But since managers tend to be highly goal-driven themselves, they often find it odd when employees are not.

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Q: My manager has begun having career discussions with all his staff members. He’s asking everyone about their long-term goals. Since I personally don’t have any career goals, how do I answer that question?

A: There is no rule requiring everyone to have long-range objectives. But since managers tend to be highly goal-driven themselves, they often find it odd when employees are not. Therefore, you are wise to prepare for this conversation.

Even if you have no desire to climb the career ladder, you can still aspire to become more effective in your job. Work-related goals might include expanding your knowledge of the business, collaborating with other departments, or acquiring new skills. As long as you seem interested in professional growth, your manager should be satisfied.

Q: Although I enjoy my current job, I’m ready for some new challenges. I recently learned about an internal position that sounds very interesting, but I’m not sure when to tell my manager that I’m planning to apply.

A: When applying for external jobs, it’s best not to tell anyone until you have an offer in hand. But with an internal position, your boss is likely to be a required reference, so you need to inform him or her before you submit the application. Most managers find it extremely annoying to hear about employee departures through the grapevine.

The specific timing of this revelation depends in part upon your boss’s personality. If he or she is a supportive manager who could help you strategize the application process, then an early conversation might be best. But if he or she is an insecure soul who will consider this a defection, you may want to wait until the last possible minute.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.