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Step 1: Create Your Personal Mission/Vision Statement

Step 1 is an excerpt from the Jobs With Impact guide, "7 Steps to Landing a Job with Impact". Click here to download the full guide for free, including our guide to successful job interviews and a list of top interview questions.

Step 1:

Start with the “why.” Why are you seeking a career that will make a positive difference in the world? Going down the path toward landing a job with impact is a huge step, and it’s important to be clear about why you’re doing it.

Traditionally, companies create two succinct statements, one for the company’s vision and one for their mission. A vision statement articulates the ideal toward which you are striving. How do you see the future world if you (and others like you) are successful in achieving your mission?

A mission statement defines what you will do to achieve your vision. It can include the purpose (using your list of “whys”), the “who” (the object or market) of your mission, and a succinct description of “how” you will do it.

what's your mission? (prayer flags at sunrise)

More and more, we are seeing mission and vision statements that are fused into one. The choice as to whether you create one statement or two is yours.

Start with a simple list of what inspires and motivates you. Then, make a list that identifies your . Use these lists as fodder for your mission/vision. Keep in mind that your mission/vision need not be perfect, and it should evolve over time. It is meant to help you articulate what is important and unique about you. Your mission/vision will help drive your job search strategy, and it can be a major differentiator in a job interview.

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Examples of corporate mission/vision statements

Tesla Mission Statement
  • An old favorite of mine is Google’s original mission statement: “To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This includes elements of mission and vision. The vision is implicit—the ideal future is a world where information is organized and accessible to all. The mission, or what they do is also clear—they organize and make accessible the world’s information.

  • Tesla’s mission is “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” The vision here is also implicit; it suggests a future where sustainable transport is the norm. They do this by making affordable, mass market electric vehicles.

  • We went through a couple of iterations of mission and vision statements at The Climate Registry, where I served as executive director from 2011 to 2017. TCR’s current vision is “To make global warming history.” This is a vision of a future without global warming. TCR’s mission statement is “to empower our generation to reduce its carbon footprint.” TCR’s job is to empower others to act. We tried to instill a sense of urgency and personal responsibility, touching on Barack Obama’s view that our generation is the first to feel the impacts of global warming but the last that will be able to do something about it.

Personal vision/mission statements serve the same function as their corporate cousins, except that the person, rather than the firm, is the protagonist. Your mission/vision should be broad in application but personal in origin.

Examples of personal mission/vision statements:

Oprah for President?
  • Oprah Winfrey: “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” This statement is highly personal even though Oprah is someone who touches millions.

  • Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, has a mission statement that is clear and to the point: “To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.” More examples can be found here.

  • My own personal mission/vision, the one driving Jobs With Impact, is “To accelerate the transformation to a sustainable future by helping people reach their potential.”

Once you have your personal mission/vision, say it out loud and see how it sounds. Then try it on a few friends. Tweak it until you can say it with conviction. Memorize it—this is something you will share openly in job interviews.

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