Work and values: love what you do

Ever had a job you liked, but didn’t like the company you worked for? How about a career that sounded good, but just didn’t feel right? The chances are it was a case of values mismatch.

ValuesValues are your beliefs about what is important or desirable. When your values line up with how you live and work, you tend to feel more satisfied and confident. Living or working in ways that contradict your values can lead to dissatisfaction, confusion, and discouragement. So there is good reason to clarify your values, and seek to match your work to them.

What you do
Work values show up in several ways. Most discussion about values begins with career choice. For example, if using your own ideas is important to you, a career in writing or design is likely to be a better fit than one that requires standard procedures – like dental hygiene. However, if helping people is key to your job satisfaction, a career in health care, education, or customer service may be a good fit.

Where it happens
For a single occupation, different work settings can present very different experiences of work values. Imagine an RN who likes to work under pressure thriving in a hospital ER. Next envision an RN who prides himself on building relationships with his patients, as he enjoys the pace of a long-term care facility. If the two nurses switched places, their job satisfaction would probably drop quickly. Or compare the experience of a retail salesperson in a national big-box store to a salesperson in a small, independently owned boutique.

For what purpose
You may have decided you want a production career because you get satisfaction from seeing tangible results from your work. But does it matter to you whether the company produces playground equipment, pharmaceuticals, or airplane parts? The value you have for the type of service or product your work contributes to can be an important aspect of job satisfaction.

In what way
Finally, every employer has a different set of values, even employers in the same industry. An organization’s mission statement can tell you a lot about what the organization values. Find more on workplace values by reading annual reports, website “About Us” information, Twitter feeds, or ask in job interviews about workplace culture and priorities.

Find your work values!
Visit CareerOneStop’s work values to learn more and get started identifying your own work values.

Author Julie Remington worked in career counseling prior to joining the staff of CareerOneStop. She loved the “aha” moment of discovery when clients realized they could find a career that genuinely fits who they are.

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