Self-Assessment: Career Values

Values are qualities considered to be the most important guiding principles that help set priorities in your career and life. They are highly personal and define what is purposeful and meaningful to you. Though values may change in response to life circumstances, they are generally thought to be enduring and provide a compass for setting goals and making decisions.

In a career context, where changes occur rapidly and decisions about opportunities in a current work role or new job possibilities can present themselves unexpectedly, it is critical to pause and reflect on the values that are most essential to you.

"Why" Exercise

This exercise can be a useful tool in clarifying values related to work satisfaction. Jotting down answers to these questions, or perhaps sharing them with a career mentor familiar with your current work situation, is a great way of reaffirming values that are priorities for you in work.

  1. What would you miss most if you left your current job? Why?
  2. What was your "best job ever?" Why?
  3. When was a time you felt really energized in your work at UC? Why?
  4. What value would you not compromise in a job? Why?

Knowing how values are aligned with your job and the organization in which you work is often critical to understanding career-related satisfaction and motivation. A helpful framework for thinking about career values was developed by Nova. In their Values Driven Work assessment exercise, career values are clustered in four domains: Intrinsic Values, Work Environment Values, Work Content Values, and Work Relationship Values.

Intrinsic Values: What motivates me to truly love my work day after day? Among a list of these values are Achievement, Giving to Community, Status, Independence, and Power.

Work Environment Values: What working conditions provide an optimum environment in which I can do my best work? Work Environment Values include Learning, Benefits, Fast-Paced, Comfortable Income, Structure and many more.

Work Content Values: What makes my work activities most satisfying and engaging to me? Among the 18 values in this area are values such as Problem Solving, Organizing, Public Contact, Detailed, and Creative.

Work Relationship Values: What characteristics of interaction with others in my workplace are the most important to me? Work Relationship Values include Open Communication, Diversity, Leadership, Teamwork, Competition, and Trust.

Learning + Organizational Development (L+OD) offers a workshop for staff on career values using the Values Driven Work framework described above. For more information, see the Understanding Your Work Related Values workshop in the list of current Career Development Workshops. You can also drop into the Career Counseling Library at the Tang Center to learn more about values assessment exercises related to positions and organizational culture at UC Berkeley.