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Tips for Writing the Effective Purpose Statements


Like an elevator pitch, a personal purpose statement is good to have ready anytime. Writing it and reviewing it annually or better yet quarterly will help you be prepared for when opportunity strikes - say you find yourself in the elevator with the boss. Think of a personal purpose statement as a concise way of sharing your professional goal. Writing it the way suggested here, short and clear, forces you to drill down to your clarity but is also more memorable for whoever you share it with. Think about it as a news headline about who you are and what value you bring that they can use when you aren't in the room.

It takes a lot of assessing first to think about your own why and where you want to go. Include specifics and any information on things you are good at that bring value to the world or the company. Where do you want to be in 2 years? 5 years? What can you do about it now? Are there tasks for projects you might want to work on? What do you do well and how can you show it or prove it (use easily memorable data if you have it).

Write in the present tense and use confident language.

And most importantly, once you've written it. Try it out on friends and family. Refine it more until you feel confident saying it. Then share with whoever at your company or in your professional network can help you get there.

Follow these principles:

  • Specific and precise - not general, broad or obscure

  • Concise - one or two sentences

  • Clear - not vague, ambiguous or confusing

  • Goal-oriented - stated in terms of desired outcomes

Examples of good purpose statements:

I am working toward my MBA and within the next year will be working on environmental change in air quality. Ideally I will be utilizing my undergraduate degree in data management and will drive knowledgeable strategic decision-making.

My customers are loyal and bring in higher than average profit for our business. I'd like to bring that to scale with our company at a higher level of responsibility within the next two years.

I am a connector and I have an eye for recruiting high potential employees. I have an extensive network I'd like to bring to value at a life science company.

I will be promoted to a Project Manager within the next five years. To do so, I will refine my project management skills and obtain  my PMP certification.

Bad examples:

I want to work with a company that will hire me as a manager and I will have many direct reports.

I am the top salesperson. I talk to our customers every day, and they like me a lot. If I leff, they would be unhappy. I'm worth more than you think.

I've been in recruiting for many years. I was in consumer packaged goods but changed to life sciences when my last company hired me. I have been an assistant in talent acquisition for too long and want to move up.

I wish someone would see what a good project support I am. I practically run these projects. It's time I got promoted.

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