How To Write a Great Career Goals Essay

Updated September 30, 2022

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach.

an illustration of a person deciding which path they want to take

If you’re applying for a degree program or interviewing for a job, you may have to answer questions about your career goals. A well-written essay on career goals can help you to make a strong impression and increase your chances of being accepted or hired.

In this article, we'll explain how to write a career goals essay that can help you advance to the next phase in your career.

What is a career goals essay?

A career goals essay refers to a piece of writing that explains which career path you wish to pursue and what you want to achieve. In the essay, you’ll write about your career aspirations, relevant achievements that put you in a better position to fulfill your goals and ways your ambitions can help you go even further. Depending on the purpose of the essay, you may be required to write about your short-term or long-term career goals.

A career goals essay shows the admissions board or your prospective employer whether your career goals apply to the field of study or job position you're pursuing. It must be well-thought-out and well-written to convince the reader you're both forward-thinking and committed to your career aspirations.

Related: Interview Question: What Are Your Future Goals?

How to write a career goals essay

To write a career goals essay that is engaging and compelling, you need to spend some time thinking about what to write and how to write it. Follow these tips to set the right career goals:

1. Understand the concept of career goals

Before you write your career goals essay, you must first identify your career ambitions. Career goals are a form of personal development. Focus on the professional or educational goals you would like to achieve aside from a high salary. The qualities of your goals are a more accurate measure of success than the salary you wish to achieve.

When composing a career goals essay, use your career aspirations to state your reasons for pursuing a certain field of study, profession or job position. You need to have a good understanding of how your goals can help you realize more profound ideas and purposes. To identify your career goals, you can create a “goal tree” that consists of initial, intermediate and final goals. Some examples of these goals include:

Example: “Completing a degree that enables you to embark on your chosen career path”
Example: “Working in a field that interests you”
Example: “Achieving a level of independence”

Whether general or specific, your career goals should be expressed as concrete ideas.

Example: “Completing a certain professional training”
Example: “Getting a better job”
Example: “Starting your own business”

Keep in mind that your objectives and goals may change over time because of your personal life, work situation or other factors. So, you may have to update your career goals essay as you continue to grow.

Related: How To Find Your Passion

2. Set goals for different stages of your career

Setting your career goals and achieving them is not an instantaneous process. While some goals can be reached within a short period of time, others may span multiple stages of your career. To plan your career well, you need to determine both short- and long-term goals by identifying the steps needed to take to achieve them. See these career stages below to determine where you're and to identify where to place each goal.

  • Adaptation stage: In most cases, the main objective in the adaptation stage is self-affirmation. The central point of this goal is a desire to show your competence and ability to learn from your mentor. Describe your goals in this stage if you're writing a career goal essay for graduate school or trying to acquire your first job. If you have a well-defined plan of action, you will have a better chance of succeeding in the early stage of your career.

  • Formation stage: At the formation stage, you will probably strive to work independently and make yourself useful to your employer. For example, you maybe be working to prove that you deserve a promotion more than your peers.

  • Maturity stage: By the time you reach the maturity stage, you're an experienced professional, likely looking to gain a managerial position and start educating younger employees.

  • Late career: At this stage, you might focus on a wider scope of your company’s interests, which can be regional or global. It is likely you will seek to convey your accumulated experience or wish to train a successor. Your most important goal is to prepare yourself for retirement.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

3. Choose a title

The first thing you need to do when writing a career goals essay is come up with an appropriate title. You should choose a title that suits the purpose of the essay and resonates with your intended audience.

If you're submitting the essay to a university or college’s admissions committee, make sure your title shows qualities that an admission officer appreciates the most, such as literacy, logical sentence construction, originality and professionalism. If you're writing to an employer, the title should reflect your personality, uniqueness and ambitions that can be beneficial to the company.

Example: "Why I Chose to Pursue a Career as a Special Education Teacher”

Related: How to Write About Yourself (With Example and 5 Tips)

4. Use the right structure

Since it is often used as part of a formal application process, a career goals essay has to conform to certain writing rules. This is especially important if you’re writing the essay to gain admission to a degree program. Your essay should be well-structured and meet all the general requirements that apply to a formal essay. Usually, this essay consists of the following sections:

1. Introduction

The purpose of the introduction is to grab the attention of the reader and make them want to read your career goals essay until the end. You can start with the formulation of a problem and its essence, a thought-provoking question or quotation. Try to create the right emotional mood.

Explain how career choices and the realization of professional goals matter a great deal to you. If you have difficulty getting started, you can write the introduction after you’ve completed the body of the essay. Once you have a clear idea of what the essay is about, you will have an easier time crafting the introduction.

Example: "When I was a child, I hoped that I would have superpowers one day. I thought that the ability to fly or be invisible will enable me to fight crime. That was my idea of making a difference in the world. Now that I have grown up and find myself having to make important career decisions, I realize that I wish to become a special education teacher. With a more realistic perception of life, I believe that this is truly an effective way to make a difference in our world.”

Related: How To Start an Essay and Engage a Reader

2. Body

The body explains the main idea of your essay, which is about your career goals. Clarify what you wish to achieve in your career. Then, explain what made you set such goals and how you intend to achieve them.

Whether writing about one or more career goals, you must include a strong thesis statement to let the reader know why you're applying for your desired degree program or job position and a few good points to support the statement. In addition, explain why you're relevant for the degree program or job and what sets you apart from other candidates.

Example: "There are several reasons I chose this career path. First of all, I love children. Being around them, finding ways to make educational programs interesting to them and investing in their development are among my greatest passions. I will never be bored with the responsibilities that come with becoming a special education teacher. While I was a teenager, I worked as a teacher’s aide in my parent’s private school, so I am familiar with the responsibilities of a teacher. I observed my parents while they were working and helped them with some of their tasks. That is what I want to do in the future as well.

Additionally, I am ambitious by nature. This means that organizing schedules, managing events and coming up with great ideas won’t be a problem for me. Since I also like adventures, I’ll truly take pleasure in transforming a normal study process into an interesting adventure for kids.

Finally, I want to become a special education teacher because I welcome the challenge of educating extraordinary children. I understand the hardships of this field of work, but I am not afraid of the challenge. I believe that every student is special in many different ways, and the opportunity to help them discover themselves is a blessing. However, I have to complete my education first to get there, which is why I am applying to your special education program."

Related: Thesis Statements: Definition and Examples

3. Conclusion

In the conclusion, reintroduce the purpose of your essay, followed by a summary of your career ambitions and the measures for achieving them. It does not have to be long, but must be defining. If the introduction is intended to interest the reader, the conclusion should seek to add integrity to the whole essay and leave your message in the reader’s memory.

Example: "After I graduate, I hope that I will one day found a special education establishment where kids will be able to gain valuable knowledge, make friends, discover passions and realize their ambitions. All this can be achieved with my potential, passion and your college’s knowledge base to push me further."

Whether trying to get accepted to a college or secure a job, a well-written and convincing career goals essay can help you establish yourself as an ideal candidate. It shows that you have career ambitions worth pursuing and shows that you're dedicated to realizing your goals.

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