Passport Series: Motivation

Nelsa Uson

We introduced Passport to our participants a few months ago with the hope that together, we can work to improve the soft skills that are most useful in the workplace. The eight skills we chose to focus on are: attitude, appearance, communication, timeliness, collaboration, adaptability, stress management and motivation. In the next little while, we’ll dissect these one by one to help you understand what we mean when we use these words and why they’re important. Hopefully by the end, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to show an employer you’re job ready!

First up is motivation, which is the desire to set and achieve high standards on the job and the desire to be an excellent employee. Patrick Lencioni calls this “hunger” in his book The Ideal Team Player. People who are highly-motivated 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?”

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

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 with them 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. 

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 to 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. 

Take initiative. People who are highly motivated are constantly thinking of new ideas or looking for ways to contribute in a unique way. Instead of waiting to be asked, try taking the lead. Maybe this means cold calling or emailing 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.  

Grow continuously. If you’re motivated, you’re not the type to settle. You want to keep getting better. It could be as simple as picking up a book on something you know very little about, or as big as taking courses to improve your skills in a chosen field. If you are more of a hands-on person, volunteer to do tasks that are unfamiliar to you or contact a person you look up to and invite them for an informational interview (virtually, of course!).


It’s easy to say, “I’m a motivated person,” but we rarely think about how to show this to potential employers. Since you only have a short amount of time to convince them you’re the one they’re looking for, you need to make sure your actions positively demonstrate the characteristics employers are looking for in a future employee. The way you speak and whether or not you follow through on your word, all send a message to the employer. Let that message add to your application rather than take away from it.