Career expert Barbara Moses figures that if you find out what motivates you, you’ll more easily find a job that suits you. The Toronto psychologist has been consulting with companies for years and her books, such as Career Intelligence and What Next?, have won praise for offering insight to workers hoping to take control of their work lives.
In What Next? she’s developed eight motivational profiles and quizzes to help steer individuals to the right professions. “Each motivational type possesses a unique constellation of motivators, values and challenges,” she says. “Some will stay stable throughout a person’s life; others will change depending on new values and emerging life circumstances.” Some of Moses’ motivational profiles—such as sociability seekers, career builders, personal developers, entrepreneurs and stability seekers—are easily identified. But she also has profiles for lifestylers (those who choose a lifestyle such as working at a ski resort or working part-time to deal with family issues), novelty seekers (who constantly move from project to project, job to job and industry to industry) and authenticity seekers (who will not sacrifice personal expressiveness or repress personal values for a job).
Moses believes that we all have a primary motivation and that some people have secondary motivations as well. In What’s Next? she provides work sheets to help people analyze their values, interests and motivations as a way of choosing a job.
Authenticity seekers, for instance, are usually self-aware individuals with a strong sense of integrity who are passionate about what they believe in. They often tackle difficult issues that support their values and may take unpopular stands. But these strong-minded personalities can often be seen as intolerant, dismissive of people with different values, or so focused on an issue that they fail to recognize their impact on others.
“Authenticity seekers pursue work that allows them to be themselves, that is consistent with their personal style, that feels right,” Moses says. “They use the word ‘fit’ frequently to describe their happiness in their work.” Authenticity seekers are best suited for jobs in creative, self-employed or entrepreneurial environments, advocacy roles as lawyers or health-care professionals, or in the arts. At the same time, these individuals are rarely comfortable working for a large multinational company or in an engineering or operations job.
Each motivational type lends itself to a different job environment. Moses stresses that there are no good or bad motivational types and that many of us may see our motivations change during the course of our lives. “Your challenge is to find a work environment that provides the best possible match for you at this particular stage of your life,” she says. Moses understands the important nature of work as an intimate expression of your identity. She knows that if you are miserable in your chosen job, your whole life will suffer. She preaches that individuals must be responsible for managing their work careers and urges every worker to vigilantly ensure that work meets their needs.
“Great work provides a sense of purpose and gives our days meaning,” she says. “Great works allows us, indeed demands of us, the expression of all our important values, talents and motivators.”
Discovery of those is the first step toward finding a rewarding job, not to mention one that is the most compatible with what we want out of life.