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Before applying for any job ask yourself this important question.

7 March 2016

OK, so a new job has attracted your interest.  You are flirting with it; you keep going back to the advertisement, or the web site posting.  You have spent two sleepless nights wondering if you go for it…

As all good job application writers know before writing your application you need to spend a good amount of time researching the role, gleaning information from the contact person and doing your background checks, but before doing any of that there is a super important question to answer first.

When a new opportunity presents itself in your career first ask yourself:

Why do I want this role?

The answer you give will often determine if you are successful in going for the opportunity or not.  Why?  Because your honest answer to this question reveals the motivations that underlie your decision to go for the role.  And, whether you want them to or not, or whether you are conscious of them or not, your motivations will always leak through in a competitive selection process (for example, in turns of phrase, or unconscious body language).

Whenever you make a decision to go for a new opportunity in your career there will be a mix of two major types of motivations – Running Away Motivations and Running Towards Motivations. 

Running Away Motivations are connected to your past and to the current circumstances of your career.  Often they are about what you want to move away from.  Here are some examples of what they can look like:

·       Feeling bored and unchallenged in your current role

·       Having a manager or co-workers who you don’t get along with

·       Not having good alignment with the culture of the organisation you are in

·       Not feeling valued or feeling that you can’t give your best

·       Feeling over skilled for the work you are doing (Check a previous post for more info on this dilemma)

·       Finding that the conditions of the role you are in (e.g. location, restrictions on taking leave, parking) don’t fit with your personal needs

Running Towards Motivations in contrast are about the future and what you want to develop in your career.  Some typical examples of running towards motivations are:

·       Getting to work with and learn from an industry leader, a hero, someone inspiring

·       Feeling a strong sense of caring for the work done in the new role

·       Clearly identifying the difference you can make in a new role

·       Getting a chance to stretch and develop skills and strengths

·       Seeing a thorny issue that you feel you can make a difference in and add lots of idea to

It is normal that there will be a mix of running towards and running away motivations in any decision to go for a new role, so the point is not to have only running towards motivations.  What you have to answer before making a decision to go for a new role is the question of what the balance is between these two major types of motivations.  If your motivations are primarily running away motivations you need to know this so you are not blindsided by them.  If in answering the above question you find your motivations are more in the running away category then to compete with people who are primarily running towards the role you have to put greater effort into understanding, learning about, getting excited about and connecting with the good you can do in the role so you have a better counter balance of running towards motivations.

A question that is often asked in a selection process is a question about why you would be a good person to select for the role.  When you have taken time to think about why you want a role and what your mix of running towards and running away motivations are you will be able to answer this question easily.

If you are considering a new role and struggling to identify your mix of motivations the following questions can help your thinking:

▪    How do you want the role to add to your career development?

▪    How will the role stretch you in areas that are key strengths for you?

▪    Which of your skills will the new organisation most value and/or develop in you?

▪    What difference, either directly or indirectly, will you get to make through this role?

▪    Which of your own personal values will most align with those of the organisation?

▪    How will this role challenge you and how long will that challenge last (hint: you want the challenge to be more than just learning how to do the new role)?

Do you know someone considering a new role?  Please send this article onto them.

Keep an eye out for a coming blog in which I will explore some career myths that can mask themselves as running towards motivations.

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