5 types of careerists: Are you "getting ahead," "getting secure" or "getting" something else?

Posted on 04-09-2014 by
Tags: Upgrading Your Skills , career management

According this article featured in the Harvard Business Review article, there are 5 types of careerists: 

Getting ahead: This is the default career model in the U.S., which means that it’s easy for those who want to get ahead to explain themselves to bosses, colleagues, and family. People who are motivated by upward mobility focus on promotions, raises, making partner, and increasing their authority. They’re competitive and willing to put in long hours and negotiate office politics to win those rewards. Also, almost everyone who is just starting out in a career has this priority.

Getting secure: Those who seek regularity and predictability in their work environment are motivated to fit in with others and uphold group norms. They avoid risk and are less concerned with advancement than with career control. If this description has you rolling your eyes, you’re not alone. It’s difficult for people to admit they want this kind of security, because it sounds like the life of a corporate drone, which no one wants to be. That’s especially true today, given the rise of the free agent in all industries. But people motivated by security are loyal and willing to put in extra effort when the situation requires it — not just when it will bring them glory.

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.

Getting high: These are people who care deeply about deploying their expertise, solving problems, creating new things, and feeling engaged. They are ambitious and sometimes idiosyncratic. Unlike professionals intent on getting ahead (who might take on boring but important assignments in order to win favor with clients or managers), those motivated mainly by getting high will gravitate toward work that provides greater stimulation, even if it’s low-profile or high-risk. They’ll also trade a certain amount of autonomy for an exciting or meaningful job — they might join the military, for instance—which a person with a “getting free” orientation probably wouldn’t do.

Getting balanced: Have you been nodding along, thinking that there’s a bit of truth and desirability in each orientation? That means you’re motivated by balance. People with this orientation want to enjoy objective career success, personal development, and close relationships, and they’ll strive to achieve all these goals over time. They are unwilling to sacrifice a personal life to career demands, but they’re also unlikely to coast in a job for which they are overqualified to free up their time at home. They want challenge, and fulfillment, both on and off the job.

Which type are you? 

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