One of the most common and important questions you may have to answer on an application or during an interview relates to your future plans. Schools and employers want to be certain you're worth the time and resources as they choose people to fill limited vacancies. If you answer this question well, you may position yourself to have a competitive advantage over your peers.
Some applications, such as for a temporary positions, call for short-term goals to be front and center. Show your understanding that the position is temporary, but state it in a way that positions yourself for more. "I seek a position at (ABC Company) that I can use to make an impression that can be parlayed into a full-time career" would be appropriate in this case. Every goal statement should touch on the specific short-term goal you seek and show your passion to do that job without only looking forward to the next career step. For instance, if an MBA application asks for your goals, be certain your answer addresses your desire to learn and grow and does not merely skip to "I seek an MBA so that I can be employed and make a substantial living."
Long-term career positions, especially those in management, call for an answer that demonstrates your ability to cast a vision for the future through long-term planning. Your answer could demonstrate your ability to work on a team and lead that team to success. Quintessential Careers offers this example of a vision-casting objective: "To become the manager of the restaurant, providing excellent food and service to my customers, while respecting and managing a top-notch staff. I will accomplish this goal by working my way up the ladder and proving my determination and expertise to the ownership group while gaining the respect of my co-workers' respect."
Show Your Desire
Sometimes it is important to use the goals section of an application to demonstrate your sincerity and steadfastness regarding a potential job or educational experience. If you are changing careers, use your goal statement to help the reader or interviewer begin to understand how your past experiences translate to the new position. Monster.com suggests this example: "Accomplished administrator seeking to leverage extensive background in personnel management, recruitment, employee relations and benefits administration in an entry-level human resources position. Extremely motivated for career change goal and eager to contribute to a company's HR division." This example mentions past experience (accomplished administrator) to help the reader see you in the new position (human resources). You can further clarify how your experiences translate into a different field in your cover letter, your resume's list of skills or in the interview.
Personal Growth is a Marketable Goal
Many applications, such as those for educational opportunities, require you to focus on yourself and your personal growth objectives. Use this opportunity to show that you know your limitations but seek to grow into the best possible employee in a way that matches your job goals. An MBA program, for instance, wants to train students who will successfully manage a business and bring it prestige in the process. The University of Northern Iowa recommends that you avoid stating the obvious in your goals statement, but instead show your passion for personal growth in specific areas. For example, instead of writing that you seek to "Earn an MBA degree so that I can be a better manager," jump right to explaining the skills you wish to hone, such as "I seek to master all phases of managing a business from financial theory to marketing to business ethics." Be concise and specific because your cover letter and application will expand on the details of your goals. Hiring managers or admissions committees may read dozens and even hundreds of applications, so you'll need a laser-focus on your plans to keep their attention.