Picture This: Top Career Motivators For the Best of Us and the Rest of Us

job searchWho needs boring book-ish data when you can get cute, colorful, cartoon data on career motivators? Behold, the rising popularity of image-infused content for the copy-averse crowd.

Depicted in this infographic are results from LinkedIn’s December 2013 survey of 18,000 employed professionals in 26 countries.

Based on the pictorial, we are initially led to believe that “around the world professionals are generally happy with their jobs.”

From a very simplistic viewpoint, LinkedIn’s graphics reveal the following about how those surveyed feel about their current jobs: 27% are very satisfied, 45% are somewhat satisfied, 14% are neither satisfied or unsatisfied, 10% are somewhat dissatisfied, and 4% are very dissatisfied.

When it comes to whether or not these professionals are satisfied enough to stay put or open to other options, LinkedIn collected the following opinions: 25% are actively looking for a new job, 45% are not actively looking, but open to hearing about other possibilities, 15% are not looking, but networking, and 15% are completely satisfied and not interested in making a move.

What is not illustrated here among the snazzy captions: specific survey questions asked, answer choices offered or anything that may have influenced survey respondents to reply the way they did. Likewise, being that this was a broad global assessment, we are not shown any economic, cultural, political or demographic indicators that may have produced outlier responses within the aggregated results.

Since we don’t have the benefit of those details from the infographic, and the full report is yet to be released, here’s how I would define those categories and the single question I would pose to survey participants…

Please select the option below that most accurately reflects your level of job satisfaction and openness to pursuing a new position.

A) I live for Monday mornings and get deeply depressed as Friday afternoon approaches. Everything about my company, boss, coworkers, schedule, compensation and commute is a dream come true. I can’t imagine anything else beyond the blissful existence I am privileged to enjoy throughout the workweek at my current job. If a recruiter dares to call me about another opportunity I immediately slam the phone down just like I do when telemarketers interrupt dinner with my family.

B) Thankfully I don’t work in an abusive and oppressive sweat shop. I haven’t noticed any signs of corporate bankruptcy on the horizon. My office building seems to be far more structurally sound than a Bangladesh apparel factory and there’s even free coffee in the break room. So far, I haven’t seen too many examples of Enron-ish ethics or Trump-esque egos running around mahogany row. Some of my coworkers are smarter than a fifth-grader and I don’t report to a pointy haired boss. My company drops a direct deposit into my bank account every two weeks so I can pay a few bills and engage in some outside interests and hobbies. All in all, perhaps I won’t thrive, but at least I’ll survive. I’m no fool and have nothing against greener grass. If I recruiter comes calling I’m up for a chat.

C) I’ve thought about leaving, boy have I thought about it! Alas, I’ve been sucking it up and sticking it out for several years since the job market remains quite unstable. Plus who has time to look for and apply for jobs? I’m not living the dream, but I’ve got bills to pay, mouths to feed, and a job is a job nowadays. My close friends and family are helping me put the feelers out, but for the most part I’m keeping it on the down low. I’ve been proactively building my network, keeping tabs on my industry’s trends, and taking calls from recruiters. When the right time comes to blow this popsicle stand, I’m ready to roll.

D) Toxic is too tame to describe the corrupt company culture. My boss is a bullying beast, my coworkers are clueless, and a post-lobotomy monkey could do my job in its sleep. Every local employment agency, staffing firm and industry recruiter within a 75 mile radius is on my speed dial. I spend every spare moment away from that hell hole known as my job, with my mistresses Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Glassdoor and Bright. My resume is pimped out and I’ve mastered the art of strategically scheduled “doctor” appointments. I know all the best gas station restrooms and industrial zones to park when I need to change into my interview outfit. I’m always happy to hear from a headhunter and hope one of them enables me to shed these shackles tout de suite.

Perhaps the above evokes the type of motivators that may have been expressed by the survey takers?  

What’s shown next on the infographic is “most and least important factors to get a professionals to accept a new job.” Again without actual question format or context of available options for the replies, the information listed is subjective and limited. In most cases, there are multiple factors involved with making a significant career decision.

It’s a given that most people would not be opposed to earning more money, getting better benefits and having good work-life balance. Where it gets complicated are the very personal and individualized motivators that people may have at different points in their careers. Sometimes people don’t know how good they have it or don’t know what they are missing. So a respondent’s perspective could be skewed to priorities that wouldn’t necessarily be accurate if they were to also consider those other aspects or if the timing were different.

Moving down the chart, there’s a breakdown of differences by age and gender. While I don’t believe it’s particularly relevant to rely on such broad categories, others may appreciate these abundantly obvious revelations, including: workers at the earlier stages in their careers value things that would be expected when starting out and aspiring to move up. Professionals who are already established also prioritize things that would be important at that point in their careers.

The remaining image is a map showing “some job benefits that are important in certain countries.”  Of course, again, the macro- and micro-economic and societal inferences are lacking for this section.

Finally, LinkedIn provides some words of caution about interpreting these data. A few more cute pictures accompany the small print warning label for “what this all means for HR and talent professionals.”

Let me sum it up: please don’t count on superficial non-contextualized points of reference when assessing the overall global workforce. Please take into account uniquely personal individual motivations as opposed to assumptions based on giant demographic groups. And, please don’t jump to conclusions based on generic and generalized information portrayed in a pretty presentation.

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About the Author: Leveraging her unique perspective as a progressive thinker with a well-rounded background from diverse corporate settings, Kelly Blokdijk advises members of the business community on targeted human resource, recruiting and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.

Kelly is an active HR and recruiting industry blogger and regular contributor on RecruitingBlogs.com. She also candidly shares opinions, observations and ideas as a member of RecruitingBlogs’ Editorial Advisory Board. Follow Kelly on Twitter @TalentTalks or connect with her on LinkedIn




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