Print this page

Employability skills

Self motivation & initiative

What are self-motivation and initiative? 

The ability to do what needs to be done without being prompted by others or the willingness to take a fresh approach

These attributes are probably some of the most important determinants of success in any situation. Self-motivation is about your internal drive to achieve, develop and keep moving forward; it is what pushes you on to complete something when you feel like giving up.  Linked to this is initiative: This is about being proactive rather than reactive, spotting and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise and persisting in the face of setbacks.

Why do employers want them?

It makes their job easier! Once a self-motivated person is familiar with the organisation or team objectives, they will get on and do what is required of them - and more - in order to meet and exceed those objectives. They are also more likely to be on the look out for, identify and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This can have many benefits for the employing organisation such as new business opportunities or improved systems or processes.

Examples of how self-motivation and initiative can be developed or evidenced

Self-motivation

Will be different for everyone so you need to identify what motivates you in order to provide examples during the application process, but in general, examples of when you have done something over and above the norm, or out of the ordinary, can be good to use.

There is a useful quiz on Mindtools.com enabling you to gauge your levels of self-motivation which provides hints and tips to improve this if you feel you are lacking.

Initiative

  • Suggesting changes to a course representative.
  • Starting your own business (e.g. DJ/ club night).
  • Getting relevant work experience or sponsorship.
  • Starting a new student group, society or activity.
  • Coping well in a sudden crisis.
  • Working independently during a work placement or job to fulfil objectives.