Career Values

Are you trying to determine which occupation, or whether an occupation, is right for you? 
If so, it is important to consider your personal preferences, including your career values.  Career values are the needs, rewards, or satisfactions that we derive from or require from our work. They can be thought of as the personal reasons for being motivated to work, or as our unique preferences for job satisfaction. Our career values are closely tied to our innate likes and dislikes, previous experiences, and social and cultural influences. After determining or prioritizing career values, it is easier to formulate questions for your mentor meeting, and it will hopefully be easier to make a good career choice.

Career Values:

Achievement   The need to get a feeling of success, accomplishment or personal pride from completing a project or task. Achievement-oriented people like to make the most of their talents and abilities. They like to have goals and see the results of their efforts.

Social Interaction  A desire to work in a position that provides interaction with co-workers and/or the public.   Sharing work, getting support or encouragement from other workers or supervisors, and/or having a feeling that the workplace is a pleasant social environment may also be a part of this value.
Creativity  A value associated with work that provides opportunities to be innovative, original, expressive, imaginative, artistic, or creative. The type of creativity can vary and may include involvement in: fine arts, music, design, literature, performing arts, language/ communication arts, or invention.
Environment  A desire to work in a physical environment or geographical location that appeals to you. It might involve the immediate physical environment (preference for a modern office or working outdoors), a lifestyle preference (urban or rural), or relocation due to the type of work that you want (oceanography or forestry).

Virtue Ethics   The ethics that you carry with you day to day (morals).  A preference for work that provides freedom for one to follow his/her personal virtues, principles, or moral values. For example, as an equal rights advocate, could you work for a company that in its advertising/commercials objectified men or women?

Financial Benefits  A value associated with the salary level and benefits (pension, insurance, bonus or incentive plans) that one expects or needs to meet a desired standard of living. Having the opportunity to be financially rewarded for working hard, taking risks, or having initiative/special talents is also part of this value.

Independence    A desire to have freedom or control over how your work is done, with little or no supervision. This may involve a preference for working alone, but more importantly it reflects a need to manage yourself, or to do things your own way. In exchange for greater autonomy, it is usually expected that you will assume greater responsibility for job performance.

Intellectual Stimulation   A value that indicates a preference for work involving a high degree of mental activity in the form of problem solving, analyzing, researching, or continuous learning. Individuals who are studious, curious, questioning, logical, theoretical, or philosophical usually seek work that is intellectually stimulating.

Lifestyle   A desire to have a career that leaves you with time and energy to devote to non-work activities such as family and social life, recreation, personal development, or community/volunteer involvement. This value represents a desire to have a balance or a boundary between the work and non-work elements of life.

Management/Leadership   A value associated with leadership and authority over others; being responsible for ensuring that the work of the organization is completed satisfactorily; directing and evaluating the performance of others. Decision-making, problem solving, and planning are usually associated with the supervisory or managerial function.

Security  A preference for work that is normally in steady demand, or is unlikely to be affected by economic changes, or which will likely be in high demand in the future. This value may also reflect the desire to work at a structured or well-defined job requiring systematic, organized, and precise work habits.

Social Recognition  A value associated with work that gives one status, prestige, respect, or social approval. This recognition may be based on a prevailing social opinion that the work is considered important in our society, or on the workers’ personal feeling that his/her work is respectable or worthwhile.

Social Service    A value present in work that allows one to help or to provide service to others in some way. The help may be offered to individuals or groups, and it may be provided directly or indirectly to those being helped. Teaching, social work, religious service, childcare, and nursing are some examples of social service careers.

Variety   A value associated with work that is frequently changing and different. Change may result from doing different tasks or dealing with different people.  This value may also be satisfied through work involving travel, excitement, adventure, risk, or danger.


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If you are interested in examining your values more closely, try an online career values assessment or meet with a Career Consultant to start evaluating this and/or other career preferences and criteria.