Career Goal Statements: Definition, Importance and 6 Examples

Updated February 27, 2023

A person surrounded by research or study materials sits on their couch at home while studying the screen of their laptop.

Regardless of your career goals, a written statement can serve as a roadmap for achieving your short- and long-term objectives. A career goals statement includes these goals, which can help you reference them regularly. Having goals that you consistently work toward accomplishing can also help 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, then provide six unique examples.

What is a goal statement?

goal statement is a written description of your long-term professional objectives. This may include specific accomplishments, like receiving a certain job title, developing unique skills or earning an advanced degree. It's also helpful to include a timeline for achievement in your goal statement to stay on track. You can use goal statements 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.

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. Setting specific goals may assist you with evaluating your current role to make choices that advance you toward accomplishing your goals. Here are some other reasons a career goal statement is important:


Knowing where you're 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. Since career goals focus on future accomplishments, a written statement can spur you on to improve your skills and make gradual progress toward each goal.

Read more: How To Build Motivation in 6 Steps (With Tips and Benefits)


When you've written out your goals, you can experience a certain level of accountability for making sure you complete them. With a written statement, it's easier to visualize 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.

Related: 6 Steps To Improve Accountability in Your Workplace


With a career goal statement, there's less guessing about what steps you need to take to reach your goals. Instead, it contains clear steps that you've written and can easily follow. This can help keep you focused as you work on achieving your overall objective.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career


The practice of writing your goals down and reviewing them consistently provides you with additional clarity about the future. For example, you might realize that you want to take your professional career in a new direction by earning an advanced degree. This additional clarity can guide you as you continue to move toward accomplishing the goals listed in your career goals statement.

How to write a career goal statement

An effective career goal statement is specific and clear. While there are various methods you could use to write your own statement, following the steps below can help you get started:

1. Think about your passions

One of the best ways to realize your career goals is by understanding what you're passionate about. Typically, this is 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're passionate about. If you consider yourself to be in this category, think about volunteering or taking on freelance projects that could assist you as you decide what you want to do in the future.

Read more: 8 Ways To Find Your Passion

2. Do your research

A career goal statement has the best chance of success when you're fully aware of your end goal. 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're 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.

During this stage, it may be helpful to speak to someone successful on a similar path to what you want for yourself, like a mentor. Talk to them about how they accomplished goals in their career, or ask about what education they completed, any tasks or projects they worked on to refine their skills and online groups they joined for motivation and inspiration. A mentor can provide useful feedback that helps you write an effective career goals statement.

Related: How To Make the Most of Your Mentor Relationship

3. Ask yourself important questions

The next step is to reflect on your personal interests, passions and motivations by asking yourself important questions. The answers to these questions can guide you in writing a career goal statement that's more defined. Your answers often prepare you to write a career goal statement that's in very close alignment with realistic opportunities that you're excited to reach. Write your answers so you can refer to them if needed. Here are several questions you can consider:

  • Where do I see myself in five years?

  • Where do I see myself 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?

Related: 100 Reflection Questions for Personal and Career Growth

4. Set SMART goals

The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. You can use this acronym to guide you as you add goals into your career statement. However, there are many other types of strategies you could use to write your goals. Here's what the SMART acronym means:

  • Specific: Goals that are clear and concise reduce 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: Career goals that are attainable and realistic can keep you on track to actually accomplish your goals. Think about the resources available to you and make sure these resources can help you meet your goals.

  • Relevant: After you've asked yourself the important questions, you can craft a career goal that's relevant to your passions, interests and long-term desires.

  • Time-bound: It's best to include a deadline or due date for career goal statements. This deadline may vary by the individual, so it's important to base the timeline on the effort and time it takes to complete a specific goal.

Related: How Do You Set SMART Goals? Definition and Examples

5. Develop an action plan

Once you know what your long-term goals are, 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, mentorship and other experiences you may need. For example, if you want to become a forensic accountant, one step is to earn your bachelor's in accounting, another is to find a relevant internship and a third step is earning a certification to practice as an accountant.

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. It's beneficial to review your goals on a monthly or yearly basis to assess how your passions have changed. Even if your goals don't change, you can use this regular review period to track your progress.

Related: How To Set Professional Goals To Advance in Your Career

6 career goal statement examples

Since professionals use career goal statements on resumes and cover letters, it's important to develop a statement that's effective, actionable and relevant. Here are six unique career goal statement examples to get started:

Example 1: Promotion

Here's an example of a career goal statement that explains a goal to get a promotion:

My goal is to get promoted from sales representative to sales manager in three years or less. To do this, I plan to exceed my sales goals by 5%, attend a leadership conference and ask my manager for more tasks that I can complete to establish myself as a sales lead.

Example 2: Career advancement

Here's a career goal statement that expresses a career advancement goal, with specific action steps:

My career goal is to be a full-time writer in five years. To achieve this, I plan to 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 can use my professional network to learn about new writing opportunities to gain exposure in the field.

Example 3: Career change

Sometimes, people want to change their career entirely. Here's a career change goal statement:

I plan to secure a career change from executive assistant to paralegal. To do this, I'm going to 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 written communication.

Example 4: New skills

If you want to learn new skills to earn advanced responsibilities, consider this career goal statement example:

My goal is to be the project lead over my company's website design. To achieve this, I'm going to learn about the current website and speak to stakeholders about what visions they have for the new website. I plan to learn more about project management methodologies and implement them when holding myself accountable for my own projects. I can also partner with a member of the project management team to shadow them during a project where they're in charge.

Example 5: Earn an advanced degree

If you plan to go back to school to earn a degree, consider this example:

I plan to earn my Master of Business Administration in the next six years by applying to top schools around the country. I'm going to ask my manager and past employer for letters of recommendation to enhance my application. While in school, I plan to study rigorously to excel in the program.

Example 6: Receive an employment offer

It's also beneficial to write career goal statements as you begin your professional career. Here's an example:

After graduating from college next month, I'm going to earn an offer of employment as a civic engineer with a top firm within 11 months. I plan to connect with my professional network to explore employment opportunities. I'm going to revise my resume and update my cover letters to improve my chances of earning an offer.

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