Career Goal Statement: Why They Are Important + Examples
This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach.
Regardless of your career goals, a written statement can serve as a roadmap for how to achieve your objectives. Having goals in place helps you stay motivated and accountable for your success in your career. In this article, we discuss what a career goal statement is, why having one is important and how to write your own career goal statement, with examples.
What is a goal statement?
A goal statement, also called a “personal statement” or “statement of purpose,” is a written description of your long-term professional objectives. They typically include specific accomplishments, job titles, education, experience and skills you’d like to earn with a timeline for achievement. Goal statements are used for job applications on your resume or cover letter, or for applications to undergraduate or graduate programs. Writing a goal statement is a great way to communicate your motivations to hiring managers and admission officers. They can also help keep you motivated and focused.
Why is a career goal statement important?
A career goal statement is important because when you're able to be clear about your objectives, you can then formalize the steps needed to get there. Here are some other reasons a career goal statement is important:
Knowing where you are starting and what you want your result to be can help you keep motivated in your day-to-day tasks. It can also keep your momentum up as you learn a new skill, attend a conference or become a part of an important project.
When you have written out your goals, you can experience a certain level of accountability for making sure you complete them. You'll now know what you're working toward and how to meet your objectives.
Others can also hold you accountable. Consider sharing your career goal statement with a colleague so they can check in with your progress. Having an accountability partner means the two of you can offer advice, be on the lookout for beneficial opportunities the other may enjoy, celebrate successes and offer support.
With a career goal statement, there is less guessing what steps you need to take to reach your goals; instead, you have written out clear steps that you can now follow to achieve your ultimate objective. Think of your career goal statement as a roadmap to your desired future with clear directions you've laid out for yourself.
Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career
How to write a career goal statement
A career goal statement should be specific and clear. Follow these instructions to write an effective career goal statement:
1. Think about your passions
One of the best ways to realize your career goals is by understanding what you're passionate about. This will be different for everyone so focus on what makes you happy, then think about ways you can turn that into a career. Some people don't yet know what they are passionate about. If you consider yourself to be in this category, think about volunteering or taking on freelance projects that'll help you decide if that's something you want to continue as your career.
2. Do your research
A career goal statement has the best chance of success when you are fully aware of what your end goal entails. Each industry is different so it's important to take your time to do your research about what's required to have the position you are aiming for. For example, if you want to be a project manager, you may start by taking courses to learn more about different project management types, such as Agile or Scrum, to educate yourself.
During this stage, it may be helpful to speak to someone successful on a similar path to what you want for yourself. Talk to them about what they did to get where they are, the education they completed, any tasks or projects they worked on to refine their skills and online groups they joined for motivation and inspiration.
3. Ask yourself important questions
This is the time to ask yourself questions that will guide you in writing a career goal statement that is more defined. Ask yourself:
Where do I see myself in five years? What about in 10 years?
What led me to realize this vision?
How will my personal goals and career goals align?
What tasks or projects do I love being a part of?
In which areas can I improve?
What skills do I need to be successful in this role? What have others before me done?
Why do I love this career path?
What are my values? What is most important to me?
What do I want to be known for in the workplace?
Your answers to these questions will help you write a career goal statement that is in very close alignment with realistic opportunities that you know you will be happy with. Take the time to reflect when answering and write down your answers to refer to as needed.
4. Use SMART goals
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Any goals you include in your career goal statement should be formatted using these ideals:
Specific: Your goal should be specific, clear and concise so there is no confusion about exactly what you want to achieve.
Measurable: If you can, include a unit of measure in your goals. These benchmarks are important so you know when you have achieved your goal, or when you have made definitive steps toward your result.
Attainable: Your career goals should be attainable and realistic. Think about the resources available to you and make sure they will allow you to meet your objective.
Relevant: After you've asked yourself the important questions, you'll know if your career goals are relevant to your passions and interests.
Time-bound: Your career goal statement should include a deadline for achieving your career goals. This deadline will vary by the individual, with some people selecting two years and others 20 years, but your deadline should be long term.
Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples
5. Develop an action plan
Once you know what your long-term goal is, develop an official action plan using the knowledge you've gathered. Think about the steps you need to take to achieve your goals and include these in your career goal statement. Include any education, skills courses, mentorships and other experiences you may need.
6. Adjust accordingly
Even if you use SMART goals and are very confident in exactly what you want from your career, circumstances, passions and experiences can change as you work towards your goal. A long-term objective means that you may experience a lot of personal growth in the interim that could naturally adjust your goals, so be willing to make adjustments as needed.
Career goal statement examples
To achieve a career goal, your statement should be actionable and include steps you're looking forward to. Here are some career goal statement examples to get started:
"I will get promoted from sales representative to sales manager in three years or less. To do this, I will exceed my sales goals by 5%, attend a leadership conference and ask my manager for more tasks that will establish myself as a sales lead."
"My career goal is to be a full-time writer in five years. To achieve this, I will work on freelance writing projects to help build up my portfolio, attend writing workshops and read one book per quarter on how to improve my writing."
"I will secure a career change from executive assistant to paralegal. To do this, I will enroll in a Paralegal Studies program and earn my certificate in the field, intern with a law firm, attend networking events specifically for those in the legal field and practice my writing communication."
"My goal is to be the project lead over my company's website design. To achieve this, I will learn about the current website and speak to stakeholders about what visions they have for the new website. I will also learn more about project management methodologies and implement them when holding myself accountable for my own projects. I'll also partner with a member of the project management team to shadow them during a project they are in charge of."
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