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What are Career Values and How to Identify Yours?

Career values are the beliefs and principles that influence your career path, work environment, and job satisfaction. They are deeply ingrained and often affect decisions more than salary or job title. Identifying and understanding these values can significantly enhance your professional life, leading to greater fulfilment and success.

Understanding Career Values

Career values, or job values, are the fundamental beliefs and aspirations that guide your professional motivations and expectations. They are what you deem most important in your work life: the desire for advancement, the need for stability, or the pursuit of creative freedom. Understanding these can help clarify your career objectives and lead you towards more satisfying job roles.

Types of Career Values

There are many different career values one might prioritize, including:

  • Intrinsic Values: Finding joy in the work itself. Examples of intrinsic values are creativity, collaboration, integrity or autonomy.
  • Extrinsic Values: External rewards your job provides, for example salary, advancement opportunities, or the opportunity to travel through your work.
  • Lifestyle Values: Ensuring your job supports a desired lifestyle or work-life balance. Examples include flexible working arrangements such as hours or location of work.
  • Social Values: Engaging in work that makes a positive impact on society. Social values can be advocacy, social justice, service of others, or respecting diversity for example.

The Role of Career Values in Career Choice

Your career values are pivotal in shaping your career trajectory. They influence what kinds of jobs and industries you find appealing, and they guide you in making decisions that align with your long-term personal and professional goals.

Identifying Your Career Values

Identifying your own career values requires introspection and self-assessment. This can be done through various methods:

  • Self-Assessment Techniques: Engage in self-reflection exercises, take career values assessments, and review past job experiences to identify patterns that highlight your values.
  • Seeking External Feedback: Discuss your perceptions and experiences with trusted mentors or career coaches who can provide objective insights.

Aligning Career Choices with Your Values

Once you understand your career values, you can take steps to align your career path accordingly. Seek roles that directly cater to your values or negotiate aspects of your current role to better fit what you value most.

Evaluating Job Offers Based on Your Values

Besides making sure the position offered matches basics such as salary, working arrangements or scope for progression, it is important to evaluate whether the company’s values match your own. Do your research: does the company share their mission and values? Does the interview and hiring process fit in with the company’s stated values and yours? Check out customer and staff reviews; reach out to current or past employees and ask them about the company’s culture; and ask relevant questions during your interview.

When to Consider a Career Pivot

Feelings of disconnect, disengagement, lack of motivation, constant stress or burn out can be signs that your career isn’t aligned with your values anymore. Is your workload affecting your lifestyle balance? Maybe the opportunities for growth or advancement do not match your expectations? Sometimes, you may find that your personal values have evolved, and they no longer match what your job or your company stands for. If you consistently feel that your work is no longer fulfilling or rewarding, it is time to make a change.

Challenges in Maintaining Career Value Alignment

Staying true to your career values can be challenging, especially when faced with practical considerations like financial needs or market conditions. It is important to find ways to integrate your values with reality without losing sight of what makes your work meaningful to you.

Resolving Conflicts Between Personal and Company Values

A clash between your values and the company’s can significantly impact your career satisfaction and ultimately your productivity too. Engage in honest discussions with your employer, seeking roles or projects that align more closely with your personal goals. Set clear boundaries about what is and isn’t acceptable in your work life, communicating these boundaries respectfully but firmly. Finally, building relationships with like-minded colleagues or networks outside your immediate workplace can help you reinforce your career values.

Maintaining Flexibility and Openness to Change

Industries that undergo rapid changes due to technology, market demands, or regulations might force professionals to adapt in ways that compromise their core values. Be open to changing your approach to work, potentially pioneering new, value-aligned practices within your industry. Stay updated with industry trends and embrace continuous learning. You could also consider applying your skills and job function to a new industry that is more aligned with your values.


Understanding and aligning your career with your values is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. As your career progresses and evolves, so might your values. Continuously revisiting and reassessing your career values is key to maintaining satisfaction and achieving professional growth. While keeping an open-mind to new opportunities, remain firm and uncompromising on what you value most. This will ultimately lead to a more fulfilled career and life.