Self Determination Theory (SDT) predicts that employees who use controlled motivation to search for alternate (better) work are less successful than their counterparts who use autonomous motivation. Using Australian labour market data, we find strong support for SDT. We find that workers who face externally regulated pressures (pressure arising from involuntary part-time or casual labour contracts) to search for alternate employment are less likely to find better work, than workers who use autonomous motives to search for work. Our findings suggest that labour market policies trending towards 'labour market flexibility/deregulation' - which provide workers with controlled motives to search for work - will contribute to workers cycling through spells of insecure employment and possibly intermittent spells of unemployment with no realistic prospect of career development. � 2014 Elsevier B.V.