Top Ways to Show Motivation at Work

Employers can teach many skills to new employees, but not motivation. Learn how to show it through your actions.

Top Ways to Show Motivation at Work

Employers are always looking for motivation at work.

Motivation at work can have just as much appeal to your boss as any expertise you have under your belt. That goes for hiring managers too. In a job interview, they'll want to know what motivates you at work and whether you're able to take initiative.

Sure, you think you have what it takes to land that job you want. The right skills and experience are definitely keys to getting your foot in the door, but to really stand out in today's competitive market and get a job you love, you have to show employers you're a self-starter. Put simply, you have to motivate yourself and let employers know you are ready to get to work.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation is the reason you do the things you do or the willingness with which you do something. It's the force that encourages you to pursue your goals. Naturally, employers want to hire people who display motivation at work and an innate desire for the job.

In fact, if a job came down to two candidates that showed the exact same skill set and experience, the job is very likely going to go to the candidate who shows more passion, interest, and commitment to the role.

Notice we said "the candidate who shows"—you can't just tell an employer you're motivated; you must show them. These actions will send the right message.

Take an Active Role in an Industry Group

Recruiting others to help you motivate yourself is a great idea. That's where joining a professional association can come in handy. Attending meetings lets you network with industry peers, but what's more compelling is taking a leadership role within it. Not only can this demonstrate your commitment to your industry, but also to your own professional development.

Do Your Homework Before Job Interviews

You already know interview preparation is important—meaning you should be ready to answer common job interview questions. But to really show off your self-motivation, research your prospective employer and relay what you've learned.

Not only is being informed one of the best ways to motivate yourself, but it also makes you look good. Prove to your interviewer that you did your homework. Explain that you researched the company's leading competitors and offer suggestions on how the company you're interviewing with stands out from the others.

Go On Informational Interviews

Taking a genuine interest in a job or company is an excellent way to exhibit motivation at work. Whether you're looking for your first job or your fifth, going on informational interviews can help you motivate yourself and meet other professionals in your field—people who can offer valuable insight into their job, their company, and the industry as a whole. They can also enable you to vet prospective employers.

Online company reviews are a great source, but getting insight directly from current employees can be a more valuable perspective. Not to mention the fact that informational interviews can also be a great way to make connections within a company, which can be extremely useful if they plan to hire in the near future.

Build a Presence on Social Media

It's no secret that employers look at job candidates' social media accounts. But just being on social media isn't enough—i.e. liking or retweeting something—you also need to offer sharp, original insights. Hiring managers will look to see how you engage with other people, as well as the types of subjects that interest you.

To utilize social media tools in your job search, you should be sharing your insights on industry news and interacting with thought leaders and recruiters—while avoiding topics that are potentially divisive, such as those that are political. And, choose a professional headshot for your profile picture (not one of those embarrassing photos of you taking shots on Cinco de Mayo).


As far as personal enrichment goes, what motivates you at work may also motivate you outside of work, and that's where volunteering comes in. Bonus: Donating some of your time to a nonprofit doesn't just feel good—it's also good for your career. Employers like to see that you're willing to try new experiences and that you're capable of committing to something that's meaningful to you.

Having volunteer experience on your resume can also strengthen your job application. The key, though, is volunteering for an organization that aligns with your values. Don't simply volunteer because you think it's going to make you look more attractive to employers.

Make Your Resume and Cover Letter Reflect Your Motivation at Work

When you're applying to jobs, your resume and cover letter are often what get you in the door for interviews. So, how do you use them to show you're highly motivated? With a resume, it's about using action verbs when describing your accomplishments. Weave in words like "negotiated," "persuaded," or "appointed," instead of overused, generic verbs like "led," "managed," or "built."

On your cover letter, focus not only on your passion for the field but also the specific job that you're applying for. Try including, "This is why your organization resonates with me," followed by a brief summary of how the company's core values speak to you.

Stay Motivated Throughout Your Career

You're more likely going to exhibit motivation at work if the job you have fits with your values and career goals. Not sure how to get a job like that? When you set up a free profile on Monster, we can help you find the employers and opportunities that would be a good match.