5 Career Orientations

Looking for a new job, and moving into a new field, every day people ask, “Where do you want to work?”

And I have to answer, “It’s not the where, it’s the kind of work.”

After 5 years working for a huge monolithic organization, I am ready for some freedom. Small teams, larger voices. Less focus on punching clocks and more on creatively meeting challenges.

When the Harvard Business Review listed five careerist types, I knew exactly where I stood. Different types find work satisfaction in different ways, and one’s source of satisfaction can change over time. Here I am right now:

Getting free. Derr describes people with this orientation as “hard to work with, impossible to work for, slippery as eels to supervise and manage, and infinitely resourceful in getting their own way.” People who value getting free want autonomy and self-direction. They have less tolerance for regulations, status reports, and other forms of bureaucracy than those in the “getting secure” camp. Like getting ahead, the desire to get free is widely understood and even admired, at least in the U.S. However, people who are motivated by freedom must pay their dues before they can have autonomy. Even if getting ahead isn’t your primary orientation early on, when you’re still building your reputation, some argue that it makes sense to act as if it is. Once you’re established, you can shift gears and strive for deeper rewards.

Certainly slippery to manage, slouching into my  Monday morning update meeting, I had to hold my frustration at the fact that absolutely nothing had changed since our Friday morning review meeting. And even if there something minor to take action on, I’d already had to come ask for approval for it anyway. What is the point of the meeting again?

Groysberg writes:

Career orientations often draw people to certain lines of work, but it’s not as simple as saying that programmers are motivated by one thing, salespeople by another.

Which is why I have such a hard time naming an industry. It is the environment that matters to me right now.

Take a look at the rest of the list and let me know where you stand.

(Image FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION… by Christian Mayrhofer, on Flickr)