How to Write a Career Goals Essay
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As the name suggests, a career goals essay is a personal document that outlines your professional plans.
It describes your educational and work history, and your ambitions for the future.
A career goals essay is generally used in three situations:
- When applying to a school or college
- When applying for a scholarship to fund education
- When applying for a new job
It allows the reader to better understand your personality and fully appreciate why you are making the application.
Career goals essays help admissions staff and hiring managers to select the ideal candidates for a position.
This essay is an opportunity for you to allow your personality and experiences to shine, so avoid generic statements.
The document should be personal and concisely describe your life experiences.
You should explain why you have chosen this career path.
If there was a pivotal moment in your life that led you to this application, be sure to highlight it.
The main focus of the essay should be your goals for the future.
Readers want to see that you are ambitious and driven, with a genuine passion for the role or course you are applying for.
These career goals should be split into your short-term goals (looking over the next one to three years) and your long-term goals (which might look as far as 10 years into the future).
Critically, your career goals essay must show how this degree or job will help you achieve your goals.
If your long-term goal is to become a veterinary surgeon, studying a veterinary medicine program will obviously be essential.
However, your goal may be more nuanced than that. For example, you might want to become an expert in a particular piece of technology or software. Your application must show how your success in this role will enable you to become an industry leader.
This will also emphasize to the reader that you have done your research and understand the skills required for that particular sector.
Remember, your career goals essay should complement these documents rather than repeat them.
This letter allows you to expand on the points mentioned in the earlier documents, aligning your previous experience with your goals for the future.
If you are writing a career goals essay as part of an application for a new job, be sure to refer back to the job description and person specification.
These documents highlight the exact type of individual the employer is searching for, so be sure your career goals essay matches the content in them.
Most career goals essays will be submitted via email, so an appropriate title is essential.
‘The Career Goals of [Name]’ isn’t a title that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t forget, whether you are applying to a school or an employer, the reader will have the job of sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications.
Where candidates have very similar experiences and education, their creativity and personality will be used to make the final decision.
How a Digital Marketing Degree Will Allow Me to Support Sustainable Businesses
How My Next Role in Nursing Will Help Me Help Others
Your introduction should set the theme for the essay, and crucially, outline your why.
Many candidates find the introduction the most challenging part of the essay to write. Therefore, it often makes the most sense to write it last.
Your introduction should be an honest and personable account of why you have chosen this field of study.
Starting with a generic opening paragraph will not inspire or motivate your reader. Stay away from phrases such as “I have wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little girl.”
This sentence tells the reader very little about your current aspirations.
It can also damage your integrity, as we all know most small children dream of being a movie star or astronaut before the job of lawyer ever springs to mind.
Most individuals in the US are lucky enough to never need the law to protect them. However, many fail to see how the intricate details of the constitution support their life every day.
I have a particular fascination with criminal law after being introduced to the field by a family friend. The monumental impact a lawyer can have on the life and welfare of an individual truly astounded me, and I have spent the years since investigating the effects of the American legal system.
This is why I have tailored my education so far to prepare me for a legal career. I work every day on developing my research and analytical ability, and now feel ready to dedicate myself fully to the legal field.
Admissions staff, tutors and hiring managers want to know that their applicants have done their research.
You can show them that you have done yours by adding a small paragraph straight after your introduction showing why you chose this school to study at or this company to work for.
First example of school-specific content:
[Insert company name] has an incredible global reputation, with clients in every continent. I can see that staff retention rates are incredibly high, indicating strong career opportunities and the prospect of continuous development.
The company values show that diversity and integrity are of the utmost importance, and I would love the opportunity to work for an organization whose principles align with my own.
Second example of school-specific content:
[Insert school name] is well known for producing the highest caliber of graduates, with an excellent global reputation. The school leaderboards show that the grades from [insert school name] ranked within the top five in the country for the past 10 years.
I would be proud to associate myself with an establishment that holds itself in such high regard and am thrilled at the prospect of learning alongside the best.
Remember, it is crucial you show why and how you are actively working towards these goals. For example, merely stating, 'My long-term goal is to become a lawyer with my own practice’ is worthless.
The reader wants to see how this goal aligns with your personality and why you have chosen this route.
The goals set out in this essay should be precise and meaningful.
Example of long-term vision:
Law is an area of study that affects us all. The law protects us, and I am fascinated by its impact on both an individual and global scale.
Of course, I want to graduate with a top-class degree, but I am also passionate about the connections and network I will build along the way. My goal is to open my own practice one day, specializing in family law.
At the moment, I volunteer in my local practice, gaining experience and building a network that will help me later in my career. I believe the combination of world-class education and hands-on legal experience will help me to achieve this ambitious long-term goal.
Next, it is crucial to discuss your short-term goals.
If you're applying to school, your short-term goals will explain what you aim to achieve throughout the degree or program.
For a job application, these goals will outline your targets for your first year in the role.
Example of short-term vision:
In the short term, my goal is to build a network in the legal sector. I have already begun doing this through my weekly volunteering role. However, this degree will undoubtedly allow me to meet a much broader spectrum of people.
I am excited to curate this network with a range of legal specialists, from students at the start of their careers to tutors with many years of experience in the industry.
As with any essay, your conclusion should summarize what you have discussed throughout.
You should not throw in any new ideas, subjects or theories at this point. Otherwise, it indicates to the reader that you have not cohesively written the essay.
Your conclusion should be about the same length as the introduction, mentioning your final goals and the name of the establishment you are applying to.
You must outline again why you want to work for this company or study at this school. Using a statistic or fact will show that you have conducted thorough research.
I am immensely excited to begin my experience with [insert school name]. Ultimately, this education will allow me to fulfill my dreams of becoming a lawyer and one day opening my own practice.
I will bring hard work, determination and enthusiasm to the law school, never forgetting why I began this journey.
Every sentence in your essay should be specific to you.
For example, statements such as ‘I want to study medicine because it will allow me to get a good job’ does not show the reader that you are passionate or enthusiastic about this position.
Whether the essay is aimed at a prospective employer or a college admissions office, they want to see why you want the position personally.
Someone solely focused on the financial rewards will likely not have longevity in the career.
Of course, there will be times where politics and current affairs are relevant to the discussion.
However, showing a one-sided argument that doesn’t align with the readers can alienate your application before you even begin.
A career goals essay is an opportunity for your personality to shine through. It isn’t a test of who has the best grades or the most experience, but a chance to show how this job or degree can change your life.
Although the reader is excited to hear about your goals, they are more interested in how this role links to your ambitions.
Be sure to constantly reflect upon how obtaining a place on this course, or securing the job role, is intrinsically linked to your goals.
A word limit is often applied to career goal essays. Where there is no limit, be sure to write no more than 1,000 words.
This piece should be concise and to the point, showing the reader you can effectively convey your thoughts and ideas.