Don’t have a career purpose statement? Here’s how to create one


While there are many ways to explore a career in the nonprofit sector, a common way is through a cause. People are eager to tackle poverty, protect the environment, teach kids, and more and view their passion for a cause as their driving purpose for their work.

However, Aaron Hurst, the founder of the Taproot Foundation and Imperative, believes that purpose isn’t necessarily about one particular cause; in fact people can work in a cause and still feel as if they lack purpose. Instead, purpose isn’t a noun, it’s a verb: it’s about how you work. To that end, he and his team have developed an assessment tool that can help you figure out your purpose.Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.37.04 AM

The assessment (which takes about 15 minutes to go through) breaks your career down into three parts called purpose drivers:

  • Who you serve (the people you want to impact)
  • Why you serve (why you do what you do)
  • How you serve (what you do to achieve impact)

After you complete the assessment, you get a purpose statement. Here’s mine:

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10.34.25 AM

Honestly, this is spot on. I thrive when I am able to work closely with people and help them figure out what next steps and resources they need in order to take action on things that matter to them.

What I also love about this is that while it can certainly help you figure out what kind career you want, it’s also helpful outside of work. The kind of volunteer opportunities you pursue and how you get involved in causes you care about are rooted in your purpose.

Try it here and share your results and thoughts in the comments.

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About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.


  1. Tried the Purpose Statement. Some amazing questions in there. I got results that made sense to me, some of it more than others. A great resource – worth the 15 minute investment.

  2. Can u make the tool available for mobile phone web use? I tried the tool, I couldn’t drag the items.

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  9. This was great, and very insightful! Here is my purpose statement:

    “My imperative is to work directly with individuals to enable them to elevate their game by creating their environments and experiences” and I “gain purpose by creating opportunities for success, understanding the human context and individuals.”

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