Values highlight what's most important to you. They signal how you feel about the work itself and how you might want to contribute to a work setting. Some people look for opportunities in life that offer autonomy, prestige and power while others may be attracted to helping others and changing society or creative expression. All values need to be acknowledged with honesty and without judgement if you want to find a good vocational fit in your career.
In addition to understanding your personal values, you may also want to think more specifically about work values. Do you want to work for a large or small organization or company? Is working with other people more appealing than working alone? Do you like your responsibilities to be well defined or do you like some room for creativity? These are just a few examples of how to define your work values. Think about the summer jobs, internships, academic work and activities that you enjoyed the most and see if you can identify some common values. Also take a look at your least favorite work experiences for clues about what you consider important. Even negative experiences teach you about yourself.
It's important to consider your values when looking at a variety of careers, because values serve as a barometer of emotion, measuring the degree of happiness and satisfaction in a career. Finally, how you prioritize your values can change over time, e.g. when you are young, stability may not be as important as when you have a family.
Work Values Exercise!
The following exercise will begin to help you identify the work and personal values that are most important to you. The list below describes values and attitudes related to job satisfaction. Review the values on this list and choose those that are most significant to you.
Check off 4 or 5 of the most important work values. If there are other work values not included in this list that you feel are especially important, add them to your list in the box. Often there are trade-offs with values and part of this process over time will be how you rank them. Once you have come up with values that are important to you at this point in time (values do evolve), keep them in mind as you consider different career paths. For example, if you have a strong preference for creativity, independence and adventure, then consider fields which will allow you to fulfill those values. Career counselors can be contacted to assist you in this process.
Help Society: Do something that contributes to improving the world we live in
Help Others: Be involved in directly helping people either individually or in small groups
Public Contact: Have a lot of day-to-day contact with people
Work with Others: Work as a team member towards common goals
Affiliation: Be recognized as a member of a particular organization
Make Decisions: Have the power to decide on courses of action and policies
Work Alone: Do projects on your own with minimal contact with others
Competition: Engage in activities that clearly compare my abilities to others
Power and Authority: Oversee and delegate work activities of other people
Work under Pressure: Work in situations where time pressure and deadlines are prevalent
Influence People: Be in a position to change attitudes or opinions of other people
Knowledge: Engage in the pursuit of knowledge and truth
Intellectual Status: Become an expert in a given field
Artistic Creativity: Engage in creative work related to the arts
General Creativity: Create new ideas for programs, written materials and organization
Aesthetics: Study or appreciate the beauty of objects and ideas
Supervision: Have a job in which I am directly responsible for the work of others
Change and Variety: Have work responsibilities which frequently change.
Precision Work: Work in settings where details are extremely important and there is little margin for error
Stability: Have job duties and work routines that are highly predictable
Security: Be assured of keeping my job and a reasonable financial reward
Recognition: Be acknowledged publicly for the quality of my work
Fast Pace: Work in situations where there is a lot of activity and tasks must be completed quickly
Excitement: Experience a high or frequent level of excitement in the course of my work
Adventure: Have work duties that require frequent risk taking
Profit,Gain: Have a strong likelihood of earning a substantial salary for my work
Independence: Be able to determine the nature of my work without significant direction from other
Moral Fulfillment: Feel that my work contributes to a set of morals that I feel is important
Location: Find a place to live, which is conducive to my lifestyle
Community: Live where I can participate in community affairs
Time Schedule: Be able to work according to my own schedule