Passport Series: Motivation

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Through our research at OFE, we discovered there are key soft skills – social and emotional skills – that determine whether a person will be successful in the workplace. They are attitude, appearance, timeliness, collaboration, adaptability, stress management and motivation. Following the success we had working with smaller groups of people over a number of years, we wanted to be more intentional about developing these skills with all of our participants. This was how OFE’s Passport was created.

To help you get a clearer picture of what we mean when we talk about these characteristics, we’ll dissect each of them in the coming weeks. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to show an employer you’re job ready!

First up is motivation. Motivation is defined as the desire to be an excellent employee by achieving high standards on the job. Patrick Lencioni calls this “hunger” in his book The Ideal Team Player. Highly-motivated people never have to be pushed by a manager because they are self-directed and diligent. They are already thinking about the next step and the next opportunity, and not only thinking about it but actually working towards it. Often when we look at which participants are ready for employment, we ask the question, “Are they hungry?” or “Are they motivated?”

Since most of us are applying to jobs from home, the obvious question is, “How do I show motivation while working remotely?” Here are some ideas:

  1. Show interest by actively communicating. Sending a quick email to, or leaving a short voicemail for, the people involved with your job search lets them know you’re still interested in finding employment. This is especially important now that in-person interactions are so limited and very few people, if any, can see how hard you’re working.

    If you have an Employment Consultant at OFE, staying connected lets them know you’re ready to receive hidden job leads and are interested in learning helpful tips and tricks for your job search. Outside of OFE, following up with employers regarding your application shows you really want to work with them, which may move your application closer to the top of the pile.
  1. Set goals and report on them regularly. Not only does goal-setting keep you on track, if you share your goals with your Employment Consultant or future manager, it also keeps you accountable for your plans. If you talk about your progress regularly, no matter how small it is, it shows you’re a self-starter and are motivated to excel – qualities employers are happy to see in their employees.

    What does this look like as an OFE participant? Maybe your goal is to come up with a more effective elevator pitch. Let your Employment Consultant know you’re working on this by sending an email with notes about what you like about people’s pitches, or a list of ideas for what you’d like to include in your own pitch, or maybe an in-progress spiel they can give you feedback for.
  1. Take initiative. Highly motivated people are constantly thinking of new ideas or looking for ways to contribute uniquely. Instead of waiting to be asked, try taking the lead. Maybe this means calling your Employment Consultant (or cold calling an employer) to inquire about future openings, or applying to a position you never considered before. Every time you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll learn new things about yourself that will contribute to your growth, which leads us to the last point.
  1. Grow continuously. If you’re motivated, you won’t settle; you’ll want to keep getting better. We talk a lot about looking for learning opportunities on this blog. You can start small by reading a book or go bigger and take courses in a chosen field. If you’re a hands-on learner, you can volunteer for tasks that are unfamiliar to you or contact a person you admire and invite them for an informational interview – virtually, of course!

It’s easy to say, “I’m highly motivated” in an interview, but how do we prove this to potential employers? When you only have so much time to convince them you’re the right candidate, you should make sure your actions point to the characteristics employers are looking for. The way you speak and whether or not you follow through on your word, all send a message. Let that message add to your application rather than take away from it.

Author: Nelsa Uson, Employer Liaison

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Passport Series: Appearance

By this time in your journey, you hopefully have a clearer picture of why developing your soft skills is essential for being

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Stay up-to-date on topics that can boost your career, give you a fresh perspective on job searching, and help you meet your goals faster.


Stay up-to-date on topics that can boost your career, give you a fresh perspective on job searching, and help you meet your goals faster.