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How to Express a Clear Career Goal

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Career goal statements are a major part of many resumes and job applications, and are used by the prospective employer to determine what the applicant hopes to achieve if hired. Applicants who demonstrate future vision and a proposed endgame to their efforts help employers understand their mindset and how it fits into the company culture. Goals that are stated clearly relay confidence, decisiveness and a proactive approach.


Your career goal should be a declarative statement without any doubt or uncertainty. Rather than writing "I would like to be successful and achieve great things," try something like "I intend to work hard and be promoted to area manager within five years." The idea is to catch and hold your employer's attention with a statement that does not bury the lead. The best career goal statements are written in similar form to journalistic pieces. Start strong, keep it brief and fill in the details as you move forward.

Career Path

In addition to laying out your intentions, a career goal should demonstrate a straight-line frame of mind and a stability in your actions. If your goal is to open your own chain of car washes in five years, you probably shouldn't be applying for positions in government. If you are starting in a new field or have little experience to offer, your statement should demonstrate how your education and collective background has prepared you for the job. Your intent to pursue a long-term career in the field you have chosen tells your employer that this is not just a job, but something you will build upon. Your intent to grow shows that you expect to remain with the company and contribute over time.


The language you use to define your goal reflects the specificity and passion behind your intent. Bland and general terms like "exciting" and "opportunities" tend to blend in with the rest and cause the reader to lose interest. Instead of pulling out your thesaurus and hunting for new superlatives, try using well-grounded and relevant terms that convey your knowledge of the topic and avoid empty sentiment. Whenever possible, the use of industry or technical terminology helps convey your specific qualifications and eliminates any question that you know what you're talking about and what you want.

Avoid Pitfalls

Many job applicants explain what they like about a position without a clear understanding of what that position may entail. For example, someone applying for a marketing assistant position may describe a desire to be creative and have a hand in the development of new initiatives. In reality the position may involve 90 percent record keeping and data collection with little if any creative aspect. By stating what she wants to do, the applicant has shown that she is probably not interested in the nuts and bolts involved in the everyday job. The employer may see this as a bad fit and move on to someone else. Tell what you want to bring to the job and not what attracts you to it.