Why you need a career manifesto (and how to write one)

A written declaration of your career intentions can help you stay focused—and get ahead.

Why you need a career manifesto (and how to write one)

Why would you want to know how to write a manifesto? Well, some people have always known the answer to the oft-asked question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And others are still trying to figure out their answer many years (and jobs) later. A manifesto can help you know if an industry or a career path is right for you. This tool can help you identify your goals, uncover your personal definition of success, and navigate your career path.

“A career manifesto is essentially a guiding principle that you use throughout your professional life,” says Terra Brown, an Arkansas-based writer for Earn Spend Live, a personal finance and career advice site. “When it comes to being successful, both long and short term, a career manifesto helps you first by giving you your own personal take on what being successful means.”

Monster consulted career experts to find out how to write a manifesto for your career. 

Visualize your ideal career

It’s time for some major self-reflection. “A career manifesto is a combination of your personal mission, purpose, vocation, and passion,” explains Kendra Davies, founder of the Orlando-based life coaching firm Stellar Life Coaching. “It is an intentional and clear vision about your career goals, what matters most to you, what you want your life to look like, and how you want to feel.”

So, before you get there, you need to decide what your vision looks like. Since a manifesto is more about values than practical benefits or job descriptions, ask yourself some key questions that you can answer no matter what field you’re in: What brings you joy, peace, satisfaction at work? What makes you happiest? Working with others? Being in nature? Hitting deadlines? Having personal freedom?

After asking yourself those broad questions, you may begin to have a better picture of what you want to do. That’s one way your manifesto can help you to manifest your ideal job.

Create your career mission statement

“The main benefit—both short-term and long-term—of having a career manifesto is that it is much easier to create a roadmap for success once you have identified your destination,” says Christina Austin, founder of the New York City-based career coaching and branding firm ExecBrands LLC. And a great place to start is by writing a career mission statement.

Your personal career mission statement should take into account your passion, your values, your definition of success, and your unique talent.

For example, your mission statement could be something like: “My mission is to write content that helps women feel more confident in their personal and professional lives.” In this case, your definition of success isn’t about making six-figures or getting promoted to partner at a law firm. It’s about the value you provide through the work you do.

Find your five words

While a mission statement can help you focus in on your values and goals, you can boil that down even further to the five keywords that define your career aspirations, says Kate Gremillion, founder of New Orleans-based career consulting firm Mavenly + Co.

“My mission statement is to help women design a career and lifestyle with purpose,” says Gremillion. She also says a great exercise to help you form your career manifesto is to come up with five words that you want people to associate with you like: clarity, purpose, connection, design and thoughtfulness so you can make sure to embody them daily.

Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror and keep a list of those words on your desk so you have a daily reminder of your career manifesto.

Use it as a litmus test

A career manifesto enables you to be intentional about your career says Angelina Darrisaw, founder of the New York City-based career coaching firm C-Suite Coach. But only if you use it. When you are presented with an opportunity, be sure to refer back to your career manifesto to make sure it aligns with your goals and values.  

“A career manifesto will help remind you of individual career needs and get you unstuck when those opportunities come about,” says Darrisaw. “You don't want to look back and be clueless as to why you made the decisions you did and why are you here. Move with intention and you won't be in that position.”

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