Using Work Values To Guide Career Decisions

Work values determine which characteristics feel essential or important for you to have in the day-to-day activities you perform in your work. People are happier at work when their work values are aligned with their career/job.

Work Values

The first steps in evaluating your work values are to name them and to prioritize them. It is unlikely that you will get everything you want all at once, so you have to be willing to decide what is MOST important to you.

Some values are mutually exclusive, meaning if you have one, you are unlikely to have another, at least during the same period of time. Examples of mutually exclusive value pairs are Fast Pace vs. Leisurely Pace, Privacy vs. Recognition, and Change vs. Predictability.

Here’s how to use this list.

– Skim the list once through.

– Quickly choose the FIVE values most important to you.

– Look for any contradictions between the values and reflect on what it means if you want two things that usually don’t go together.

– Of the five you chose, rank them from most important to least important.

– Notice which value is MOST important to you.

– Keep these values in mind when you evaluate work opportunities.

Achievement
A definite feeling of accomplishment about the outcome

Advancement
Ability to continually move ahead in your career, gaining income, power, and/or status as you go

Adventure
Have unusual, exciting, and potentially risky experiences, usually in various geographic locations

Affiliation / Belonging
Membership with a group of people with similar mission, values, and goals

Art
Involvement in artistic endeavors in some way

Authenticity
The ability to be yourself

Autonomy / Freedom
The freedom to do work in your own way

Authority
Being in a position to command

Beauty
Work involving attractive people, places, or things

Camaraderie / Friendship
Spend lots of time making friends and socializing with co-workers

Challenge
Lots of difficult demands in terms of time, results, etc.

Change
Participating in frequently evolving and dynamic situations

Community Service
Making the world a better place by helping individuals, groups, and/or the larger society

Competition
Situations in which you compare yourself with others in ways that result in clear wins and losses

Creative Self-Expression
Ample opportunity to express yourself via new communication, programs, processes, etc.

Employee Development
A culture that values people and is committed to developing their talents

Expertise
Be viewed as a person who is on the cutting edge of knowledge in some area

Fame
Being known to large numbers of people

Fast Pace
Circumstances in which work must be done rapidly

Flexible Schedule
Choosing your own work hours

Focus
Ability to concentrate highly on one specific thing or area at a time

Glamour
Being around attractive, exciting people or events

Hands On
Using manual dexterity

Helping
Providing assistance directly to individual persons or groups

High Income
Earning a significant amount of money

Influence
Changing and/or persuading people

Innovation
Being on the cutting edge of methods, ideas, products, etc.

Integrity
Honesty and upholding your moral/ethical principles

Initiative
Using self-motivation and drive

Justice
Ensuring fairness for people and situations

Knowledge
Acquiring information and wisdom

Leadership
Leading people or projects at the strategic visionary level

Learning
Continually mastering new information or skills

Leisurely Pace
Circumstances in which work can be done slowly

Location Independence
Working from any geographic location of your choice

Management of People
Directing the work of others

Mastery
Knowing most of what there is to know about a subject

Meaning
Doing work that feels like it matters

Order
Arranging or maintaining things in a particular sequence, pattern, or method

Outdoors / Nature
Opportunity to be outdoors or in nature

Peacefulness / Harmony
Serene settings w/ an absence or minimum amount of conflict

Physicality
Work that involves physical strength, speed, skill, etc.

Power
Official authority and/or strength to enforce policies, laws, etc.

Precision
Requiring detail and has measurable right-or-wrong components

Predictability
Certainty and reliability about what is coming next

Privacy
Being relatively anonymous

Problem-Solving
Solving complex problems

Project-Based
Sequence of tasks with a definite beginning and end

Recognition
Getting positive feedback and credit for doing a good job

Routine
Predictable work with few surprises

Scientific Pursuit
Work that uses the scientific method to advancesthe knowledge in a particular field

Security
Stable, steady work that is relatively guaranteed to continue

Simplicity
Having straightforward tasks that are easy to understand

Socializing
Being highly interactive with other people

Solitude
Being alone a lot

Status
Impressing other people because of high prestige

Structure
Having highly systematized work

Teamwork
Working in groups rather than alone

Technology
Using computers or other types of technology

Transparency
Open communication throughout an organization, from the top on down

Travel
Going to varying geographic locations

Trust
Being able to trust managers, peers, and subordinates (and being trusted in return)

Usefulness
Accomplishing something necessary and valuable

Variety
Doing different things on an hourly, daily, weekly, or other basis

Wealth
Building financial well-being beyond an annual income

Work-Life Integration
Having a personally optimal blend of personal and work pursuits

Did I miss any values that are important to you? Please share them with me in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Trust
    Being able to trust your management, your peers and your subordinates.

  2. Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli says:

    Thanks, Leslie! I added your suggestion.

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