WHEN Your Core Values Chart a Course for Career Success

WHEN Your Core Values Chart a Course for Career Success

Have you ever found yourself in this situation: You’re at a job interview. You’re getting along well with the hiring manager. You know you’re more than qualified for the position, and the salary is good. But for some reason, if an offer is made, you find yourself on the fence about saying “yes.”

Whether you’re taking the first step or seeking out the next step on your career ladder, how do you know if that job is the best step forward?

This is where your core values come into play. Anytime you need direction on a big decision, your core values are like a faithful companion you can count on to steer you toward the right choice. They remove any uncertainty and give you clarity around WHEN you’ve found the perfect fit.

Do you know what your core values are?

Core values are your internal GPS

Have you ever made a choice because it “felt right”? That’s a nudge from your core values informing you that a person or situation aligns with who you are at that moment.

Core values are your North Star. They’re the innermost beliefs you have about what you need and what’s important in your life. This internal guidance system tells you what your priorities are, how to best channel your energy, and where you’ll find fulfillment.

Some examples of core values include:

  • Putting family first
  • Keeping your word
  • Being treated and treating others with respect
  • A sense of community
  • Contributing to society

When you know your values, you understand the reasons behind the choices you make. You don’t have to rely on guesswork, gut feelings, or a sign from above. Instead, you’re able to trust yourself, make decisions, and set goals from a place of purpose.

Even if you think you have a handle on your core values, it’s always worth revisiting them. After all, change is inevitable. Any significant transition in key areas of your life, like family, finances, work, or health, will require you to reassess your values. This last year alone was a pretty significant transition for virtually everyone!

Letting your core values lead the way in your career

One of the best times to reevaluate your core values is when you’re job hunting. Maybe you’ve lost a job, have lost interest in your job, or have to seek out a new line of work due to a dramatic shift in another area of your life. By getting clear on your values, you’ll know what you need to be satisfied and engaged in this next stage of your career. Plus, you’ll be able to pinpoint the best places to cast your net in a sea of job openings.

Keep in mind that as you uncover your core values, you also want to create a list of your work values. Think of work values like a set of branches on a tree. They’re unique on their own, but influenced by whether they help you meet and express your root, core values.

A few examples of work values would be:

  • Room for growth and advancement
  • Job stability
  • Support and recognition from supervisors
  • Collaborative co-workers
  • Providing a product that helps others

If you compare these work values to the core values mentioned earlier, can you see how they’re interconnected? Each work value is an offshoot and expression of the larger core values of community, integrity, and contribution.

Your core values will never lead you astray in your job search. They’ll help you determine the companies to contact, the roles best suited for you, and the people you want to surround yourself with. Best of all, you’ll never feel like you’re going backwards or in circles. Your core values will always propel you forward.

Tips on tapping into your core values

There are a number of ways to begin connecting your core values to your career journey. Here are a few ideas to get you started (and be sure to look for recurring themes):

  • Explore your past experiences. Think about moments at jobs past and present when you enjoyed your work. What did you do well and what did you love doing most? What made those experiences satisfying and meaningful?
  • Research the companies you like. What is it about that company’s product, service, or vision that excites you? Can you tell what their core values are, and do they align with yours? Do they live up to those values or is it lip service? What do employees say about working there?
  • Envision your ideal job. What would a great day at work look like? What would you be doing? Who would you be around? How do you feel being there? Are you more motivated by the specific work you’re doing or by the way you contribute to the company mission? How does this job help meet your core values?

And if diving into this discovery process feels daunting, give yourself the gift of asking for support. Feedback from an objective pair of eyes and ears, like a trusted friend, counselor, or WHEN Advisor®, can provide illuminating insight into areas you might overlook.

By mapping out your core values, you chart a course for success no matter where you are on your vocational path. With your values guiding the way, each new opportunity becomes a step up on the ladder to greater fulfillment, a long and happy career, and a more meaningful life.

Danielle Lescure
WHEN Contributing Well-Being Writer

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