Career drivers are the things that drive us in our work and careers. They can be intrinsic (like enjoyment) or extrinsic (like pay). These career drivers help shape our career choices and what fulfils us. A career drivers activity can help individuals discover their career drivers.

Summary by The World of Work Project


What are Career Drivers?

Career drivers are similar to personal values. They are the “bit below the iceberg” in relation to who you are at work. Career drivers are shaped both by an individual’s life journey and their personal circumstances.

Dollar bills
Some people are driven by growing income.

Career drivers can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivators are what you look for in the day to day tasks of any specific role. They include: creativity, collaboration, variety, problem-solving etc.

Extrinsic motivators are the by-products of a career such as salary, prestige, commuting time, or pride.

Gaining an understanding of your career drivers can help you assess your career. This understanding will help you effectively discuss your career, make important career related decisions and develop your career plans. A great way to do this is with a career drivers activity.

It’s worth noting that your career drivers may be different to your core personal values. It’s also worth noting that career drivers may simply be a luxury that you can’t afford when you just need to work to pay the bills.

If you would like to know more, you might consider looking up Edgar Schein’s career anchors. They’re a good way to think about what you look for in a role. Our post on time includes an activity to help you identify your own career anchors.

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A Career Drivers Activity

A man looking with a magnifying glass representing searching with a career drivers activity
It’s OK to still be searching for your drivers.

Everyone is unique and will have their own blend of career drivers. Many people have a gut sense of what their values and drivers are, but haven’t actually explored them before.

If that sounds like you, the following career drivers activity will help you get to know your career drivers and motivators.

Alternatively, if that sounds like someone in your team, then you might be able to help them develop. You can use the process below in your coaching sessions or one to ones with that person. Doing so will help them develop a sense of where they would like to be and to help them get there.

Step 1: Review

The first step of this career drivers activity is a review. Read through the list of values and motivators below and reflect on what each of them mean for you. This list isn’t complete, so if there are other motivators you’d like to consider, simply add them to the list.

A list of values and motivators to use in a career drivers activity

Step 2: Grouping

Now that you’ve reviewed the list and reflected on each of the drivers in it, it’s time to explore which of them are important to you. To do this, go through the list and allocate each of the items into one of the following categories:

  • This is essential for me
  • I’d like this
  • I’m indifferent about this
  • I don’t want this, but it’s not dreadful
  • I can’t stand this and won’t take a job if it exists

Step 3: Summarizing

Having completed these first two steps, you should now have a grouped set of statements and drivers. The last stage of this career drivers activity is to go through your groups of drivers and condense or summarize them into some headline statements.

Aim to come up with a five sentence summary of what you’re looking for at this stage in your career. This statement of intent should be a guiding tool to help you stay on track as you look to progress.

So what next? How does this help?

Of course, working out a career statement like this is only the first step towards obtaining what you’re looking for. That said, gaining clarity over where you want to get to is always the essential first step towards helping you get there.

The next steps you should take having completed this career drivers activity are:

Perform a Career Audit

Compare your current role against the high level statement you created. Identify the parts of your current role that are well aligned with your aspired career, and those that are not well aligned.

Prioritize Areas for Improvement

Think about all of the areas of your current role that don’t align with your goals. Prioritize the areas so you know which ones are most important to you, the things you’d like to change most quickly.

Develop an Improvement Plan

Focus on the three areas you’ve identified as most important to you. For each one, identify one or two actions that you could take to help improve that area. These can be simple things, but they may require support from others. Capture these actions in a career development plan.

Two people in conversation, perhaps discussing a career drivers activity
It’s often helpful to share your career development plans

Share your Improvement Plan, and ask for help

Get time with your boss, explain the process you’ve been through and that you’re motivated to make your role an even better fit for you. To do that though, there are a few things you’d like to try and change. Explain that you’ve developed a plan to help you get there, and that you’d like to know what they think about it and potentially get their help in making it become a reality.

Deliver the Plan

Having obtained agreement and some support, it’s up you to put the wheels in motion and start to make your goals a reality. It’s highly important that you are motivated, and that you own your career development plan.

This career drivers activity process is an iterative one, so you’ll probably need to return to it repeatedly throughout your career as you grow and develop and as your life circumstances change.

Learning More

Understanding our career drivers may help us understanding our personal values and motivation and develop our self-awareness and character. The drivers we look for might be affected by where we are in life. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sheds insights into this type of motivation and might be interesting.

Our career drivers may also shed light on our career anchors, which you can learn more about in our podcast on the subject:

The World of Work Project View

We like this career drivers activity. It’s helpful and quite simple.

We think that understanding where you would like to get to can be a powerful thing and that these processes can help with that.

We also fully believe in the power of action, and believe that the very act of taking action through steps like those detailed above can be an empowering and rewarding process, so we would recommend doing so.

Our Podcast

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This post on a career drivers activity is based on our working experience and we have no specific additional links or sources to share.

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