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The Importance of Aligning Career Motivations with Opportunities

Author: Bernie Guthrie

Published date: 2019/11

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In the recruitment industry, we sometimes come across people who know exactly what they want out of their career, when they want it and how they’re going to achieve their goals. You get a sense that this person is a gun at what they do and they’re incredibly motivated. On the other hand, we meet with people who are too busy and embedded in their current work and haven’t really stopped to reflect on their career for the past few years or evaluate where it’s going. These people are just as motivated, but they just haven’t stopped to think about it.  Are you the latter? Perhaps you should be asking yourself some tough questions?


It’s important to first ask yourself ‘why?’ (I know, Simon Sinek totally owns this and I’m not trying to steal his thunder). More specifically, asking yourself ‘why?’ when evaluating your career. Within the recruitment space, we spend a lot of time dialling in on what your individual career motivations are. It’s incredibly important in asking yourself “why?” on all decisions you make around your current circumstances or when evaluating a potential career move.


Questions like; Why am I still here? Why haven’t I been promoted? Why am I applying for this job? Why am I meeting this company? Why am I speaking to this recruitment consultant?


After interviewing hundreds, if not thousands of people, a good recruitment consultant can help you better understand what your career pathway will look like and get a true understanding of what your career motivations are. This translates into knowing what to look for in your next potential job or what questions to ask the next time you’re going in for an annual review.


Commonly, people get caught up in popular career trends rather than knowing what is best for them on an individual level. As an example; in the engineering industry, where I’ve been recruiting my whole career, if I were to ask a graduate “what are your career ambitions for the next 5-10 years?” I’d say nine out of ten will quickly answer “Project Manager.” But if I were to rebuttal and ask, “Do you know what a project manager does?” Most of the time, the best I get is; “they manage projects”. If I were to push a little harder and ask, “why do you want to be a project manager?” I’m often faced by blank faces and the sound of tumbleweed sweeping across the table.


Everyone has their own motivations and they’ll be a unique set of priorities. Some people are driven to get exposure on large scale multi-disciplinary projects, some people want to work for global companies that have international opportunities, others want to be a Manager/Director as soon as possible. All career motivations will be unique to the individual but what is incredibly important is aligning yourself with the opportunity to work towards your goals. As an example, if you’re somebody who wants to become a manager as soon as possible, then perhaps looking at only working for large global company where the current management incumbents are embedded in their roles, and you’re competing with four other people for the next vacant promotion – then maybe that’s not the best for you. Perhaps an up & coming firm which has a strong leadership team but expects huge growth in the next 12 months, which allows for opportunities for internal promotions, may be a better fit for your goals?


Understanding your personal career motivations will dramatically assist you in finding the right career move or assist you when you’re evaluating and reflecting on your current situation. You can start to ask yourself questions like; ‘if I stay here for another six months, will I get the exposure I need for my goals?’ Or ‘are the projects my current company are tendering for going to give me the exposure to build my technical skills?’ Perhaps it’s time for you to sit down to reflect, evaluate and consider your options.


Bernie Guthrie is a Senior Consultant in our Engineering team, specialising in recruitment for Rail Systems & Infrastructure. Connect with him on LinkedIn here!