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Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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Workplace

Case study: What motivates Ontario’s career professionals?

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Finding a job is not easy for everyone. Some jobseekers may know how to perform job search effectively, but the majority of jobseekers are not trained in this. Many of them are unaware of appropriate techniques for conducting job search, writing resumes and preparing for interviews.

Many jobseekers, including newcomers, seek job search support with the help of career professionals who work at non-profit employment agencies. These career professionals are generally given a target number of jobseekers to help find employment to meet the overall targets allocated by their organizations’ funders. Often, they end up exceeding their targets. Why is this? Of course, sometimes they have to exceed targets according to their employers’ direction, but sometimes they also exceed their targets impulsively because they love what they do. Our research, recently published in the Canadian Journal of Career Development, revealed that career professionals in Ontario are highly motivated to help jobseekers find gainful employment, and their source of motivation is largely intrinsic (or internal).

The big question remains – why are these career professionals so intrinsically motivated? Unlike profit-earning organizations, career professionals of non-profit employment agencies in Ontario are not entitled to receive additional financial incentives for exceeding their targets. Based on an exploratory case study, this article explores what motivates career professionals in Ontario’s non-profit employment agencies to reach and exceed their pre-set targets.

The methodology

This study was based on interviews with seven mid-level managers and seven career professionals of non-profit employment agencies. Additional data were collected via document perusal, field notes and the researcher’s reflective journals. All data were coded and analyzed thematically using a content analysis method. Triangulation and member-checking were performed to ensure reliability of data.

What motivates career professionals?

When the career professionals told their stories of choosing this profession and helping jobseekers find meaningful jobs, their eyes sparkled with the feeling of satisfaction. Our research suggests that the career professionals of the seven non-profit employment agencies are by and large, intrinsically motivated, and three of their key motivators are “passion for their jobs,” “empathy for the clients” and “changing other people’s lives” in a positive way.

An empathic response

Ontario is a diverse place with immigrants settling here from all over the world. The jobseekers non-profit employment agencies serve represent different nationalities, cultures, races and religious backgrounds. Many jobseekers invariably experience culture shock and difficulty in integrating into the Canadian labour market despite their strong educational and professional backgrounds. This diversity is also reflected in the workforce of not-for-profit employment agencies. Some career professionals had come to Canada as immigrants themselves and encountered the same barriers that their clients face.

“When the career professionals told their stories of choosing this profession and helping jobseekers find meaningful jobs, their eyes sparkled with the feeling of satisfaction.”

One of the career professionals who was born and raised in Canada also stated that she experienced challenges landing her first job. She pointed out that recent graduates’ experience in getting their first job is often similar to that of immigrants and newcomers. Thus, career professionals can empathize with their clients and are able to put themselves in the jobseekers’ shoes.

Fuelled by passion

Some career professionals are so passionate about their jobs that they do not require any additional motivators. They love doing what they do, and their love for their work acts as the strongest source of motivation. After spending a stressful day listening to clients’ stories of struggle and frustration, the career professionals feel rewarded, because they can help transform their clients’ lives.


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Habib Ullah Author
Habib Ullah has over 15 years of experience working progressively as a career practitioner. His roles include program and site management, co-ordination, and also job development and employment counselling. He is passionate about exploring, understanding and improving the leadership approaches and practices used by mid-level managers in non-profit employment agencies. As a lifelong learner, Habib obtained his Doctor of Education degree from Western University and Master of Education from Brock University. He also holds a Master of Philosophy in Business Administration degree and certificates in human resource, project management and Teaching English as a Second Language.
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Habib Ullah Author
Habib Ullah has over 15 years of experience working progressively as a career practitioner. His roles include program and site management, co-ordination, and also job development and employment counselling. He is passionate about exploring, understanding and improving the leadership approaches and practices used by mid-level managers in non-profit employment agencies. As a lifelong learner, Habib obtained his Doctor of Education degree from Western University and Master of Education from Brock University. He also holds a Master of Philosophy in Business Administration degree and certificates in human resource, project management and Teaching English as a Second Language.
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