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Factors in Selecting Job or Career

by Ron Kurtus (updated 17 December 2021)

In selecting a job or career, you are typically motivated by three factors, depending on your personality and circumstances.

These factors are interest in a specific field or area of work, desire or need to make money, and desire to make a difference or have influence. The order of importance in which a person places these items varies with the individual and his or her situation.

Typically, though, they are in the order stated. Knowing your own motivations will help you guide your career.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.


Typically, the first consideration in seeking a job or career is your area of interest. Many people have activities or work they enjoy doing. If you are good at something, often that will be an area of interest for you.

What you like

Suppose you like to deal with people. You might seek a job in sales or a career in management. On the other hand, if you love the intricacies of computer code, you might seek employment as a computer programmer.

It is good to know what you like to do, so that you can move in that direction.

Not good enough

But also, there are times when you may select and area in which you are not really good enough. For example, a person who loves to sing may want to become a popular recording artist. But if he or she does not have sufficient talent, that career may never work out.

More important than anything

That does not mean it isn't worth giving it a try. If you don't make the "big-time" you can still perform locally at some level. In other words, although you would like to be a star, make a lot of money and influence people, you will forgo that for the love of singing.

Have no idea

There are some who don't have a clue about what they like. Often they will take jobs simply for the money. Unfortunately, these people also don't make very much money and may even hate their jobs.


If your primary motivation in getting a job is to make money, doing what you want and serving a purpose are secondary.

Money plus area of interest

Some people will seek work in an area that pays well and is in a field of interest. In such a case, if it is a choice between making good money and doing what you want, the higher wages will often win out.

Money plus helping others

Getting paid well while hoping to help others is possible in some professions such as medicine. But typically, pay is not good in jobs such as working for a non-profit organization.

Money is important

Making money is important to many people. For those from a family with low economic status, money can be the driving force in working. Often they will work in jobs other than in their area of interest or even in a field they hate, simply for the good wages.

Certainly, not having an education, training or skill can affect how much money you make. Education and training are important if you want to make a decent wage.

If you like the work you do and are enthusiastic about it, your chances of promotion and raises are dramatically increased.


Many people want to have their work appreciated and feel like it is important to their bosses and even the customers. There are also some who want to make a difference in improving society, protecting the environment or helping other people.

Many who get into charity work, medicine, and education are driven by the desire to help other people.

People that are primarily driven by the desire for money often put helping others at the bottom of the list or don't even consider it at all. Those who are driven by the need to make a difference may not care how much they make, as long as they can continue helping.

Usually people have an interest in a certain field or cause. For example, a person may be interested in biology and then become concerned about environmental issues.


You are typically motivated be three factors in selecting a job or career. These factors are your interests, money, and influence. The order of importance depends on your personality and circumstances. Knowing your own motivations will help you guide your career.

Know what you want

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