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How to Say You Are Self-Motivated on a Resume

How to Say You Are Self-Motivated on a Resume

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What is self-motivation?
  • Why do employers value self-motivation?
  • 5 Tips to say how you are self-motivated on a resume
  • 1. Start simple
  • 2. Work it into your summary
  • 3. Provide concrete examples
  • 4. Expand your vocabulary
  • 5. Make your resume excellent
  • Key takeaways

Self-motivated employees are at a premium in the workforce. Their personal investment drives them to meet challenges and accomplish their goals, demonstrating desirable qualities beneficial to a company. If you’re ready to show off your chops, we’ll show you how to say you are self-motivated on a resume.

No supervisor can do everything themselves. Each and every leader needs employees that take initiative and keep the workplace running smoothly without supervision. If you’re a self-starter on the lookout for a new job, it’s important to show recruiters that you have the drive to succeed even when nobody’s watching. 

One of the best places to demonstrate your self-motivation is in your resume. This document is the first thing recruiters see, so it’s important to make it work for you. Demonstrating self-motivation is often harder than it sounds. Anyone can write “self-motivated” on their resume, but that’s just the first step. Every element of your resume must work together to demonstrate this character trait.

If you’re struggling with your resume, we’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll explain how to say you are self-motivated on your resume and describe why it matters. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • What is self-motivation?

  • Why do employers value self-motivation?

  • How to say that you’re self-motivated on a resume

What is self-motivation?

In simple terms, self-motivation is a character trait that keeps you working, even when nobody is observing you. Self-motivated people take on challenges and make progress just because it’s personally satisfying. These individuals often excel in the workplace and may produce better work because of their personal investment. 

Being self-motivated requires a goal. This could be anything from displaying excellence at work, a promotion, providing for your loved ones, or simply a desire to feel accomplished. Self-motivated people also rely on a range of other competencies to help them succeed. These include confidence, discipline, passion, and time management. 

Why do employers value self-motivation?

Business leaders of all kinds value self-motivated employees with initiative. This competency brings a wide range of advantages in the workplace, including:

  • Increased productivity. Self-motivated employees are much more likely to be productive than other workers. This is always true, even when oversight and supervision are lacking.

  • Self-sufficiency. Self-motivated employees don’t require constant supervision to do excellent work. This makes delegation easier and can take some stress off managers.

  • Innovation. Self-motivated employees often find unique and innovative ways to approach problems. This can encourage business growth. 

  • Better resource allocation. If employees are self-motivated, it can reduce the amount of resources needed to manage them. Time, money, and personnel that would be used for supervision, discipline, and productivity-boosting can be saved or reallocated. 

  • Improved quality of work. Self-motivated employees often produce high-quality work compared to their peers. Many of them have an independent drive to succeed.

  • New leadership. Bringing in self-motivated employees is a great way for companies to build their talent pools. These workers are often independent and confident, making them good candidates for management and leadership positions.  

5 Tips to say how you are self-motivated on a resume

As we mentioned above, there are many ways to work your skills into your resume without listing them. This is often more effective as it provides context and evidence for your claims. Here are several techniques that you can use to show your self-motivation on a resume:

1. Start simple

While listing self-motivation as a skill isn’t the most effective way to show off your chops, it can’t hurt. When you create your resume, it should have a separate skills or areas of expertise section that lists your most important competencies. Under the “skills” heading, feel free to list self-motivation. In combination with the rest of your resume, this could catch a recruiter’s eye. 

2. Work it into your summary

Every good resume starts with a  professional summary. This is a short passage that introduces the candidate, along with some of their most important accomplishments or qualifications. This might be another place to include self-motivation if you really want to catch a recruiter’s eye. 

Here is an example of how you could incorporate self-motivation in this section, using your experience to ‘show’ the hiring manager you’re self-motivated: “Dynamic and driven project manager with extensive experience creating and implementing process improvement initiatives that decrease project completion times.”

3. Provide concrete examples

Demonstrate your self-motivation by including examples from your past jobs. This is a more credible way to display your skills and allows the recruiter to validate what you say about yourself. In your professional experience section, list instances of anticipating employee or client needs, developing new, innovative solutions, and exceeding professional goals. Highlight times you showed leadership and discipline by taking the initiative.

For example, if you are an experienced sales manager, you probably have instances of achievements that you could use in a bulleted list. Creating new sales campaigns and surpassing sales quotas both show self-motivation. Here’s how that could look in a resume: 


Innovation Corporation, Dallas, TX Sales Manager

Oversee all aspects of product sales across four-state region, proactively identifying opportunities to grow revenue and increase market share. Provide strategic leadership and direction to team of 15 employees, driving high level of customer service and satisfaction. 

  • Increased revenue 30% by conceptualizing and launching new sales campaign for an underperforming product.

  • Improved customer satisfaction ratings by developing and implementing training program that addressed customer pain points.

  • Presented with top performer award for surpassing Q2 sales goals.

4. Expand your vocabulary

Although “self-motivation” is a fine phrase, mix it up when writing your resume. Use synonyms to convey the idea of self-reliance and excellence without becoming monotonous. A few adjectives you can use are driven, innovative, ambitious, resolute, or determined. 

When writing the professional experience section, you can use verbs to display how you’re self-motivated, such as initiated, spearheaded, drove, proposed, launched, or pioneered.  These would be great verbs to use in your bulleted achievement list. 

5. Make your resume excellent

Although it may seem strange, the structure and presentation of your resume is one of the most telling things when it comes to self-motivation. A recruiter can make inferences about your work ethic and skills because of it. If you want to convey self-motivation, make every detail of your resume excellent.

Review the job listing and tweak your resume for each application. Use a clean, uncluttered format with plenty of white space, so a hiring manager can quickly skim the document and find what they’re looking for. And remember to proofread! Asking a friend to review your resume can help find any issues you may have missed. 

Curious about how to design your ideal resume? View our Resume Builder tool today.

Key takeaways

  1. Self-motivation is the ability to work towards a goal without supervision.

  2. Employers value self-motivation in their employees because it can reduce the need for supervision, foster a productive environment, and save resources. 

  3. List self-motivation in the skills section of your resume and sprinkle related words throughout.

  4. Bolster your claims with concrete examples of self-motivation from your work history.

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