Clarifying Your Work Values Leads to Job Satisfaction

An Essential Piece of the Career Planning Puzzle

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Your work values are the subset of your beliefs and ideas that are related to your occupation or job. These core principles are an important part of who you are. They include things like honesty, service, self-respect, respect for others, peace, and success. Therefore, you must identify what work values you cherish the most before you  or decide whether to .

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Work Values

We all have both intrinsic and extrinsic work values.

Intrinsic values have to do with the actual tasks involved in practicing a particular or doing a job. They include helping others, doing challenging work, and being an exemplary leader.

Extrinsic values are concerned with the by-products of an occupation or job. In other words, they refer to what you get out of your work, rather than what you put into it. Examples of extrinsic values include high earnings, recognition, and job security.

Identifying Your Work Values

Because not identifying your work values will diminish your chances of ultimately being satisfied with your career or job, it is imperative that you identify them early on in the . To do this, you will use a tool called a work value inventory. 

Although it may sound complicated, it is just a list of values that you simply have to rank by order of importance to you. For example, the instructions on one of these inventories may tell you to rate each value on a scale of 1 to 10, giving a "1" to those values that are most important to you and a "10" to those that are least important.

Alternatively, you may have to arrange a list of work values in order of how much they mean to you, with the ones at the top being the most significant.

If you are working with a  such as a  or career development facilitator, he or she can administer a work value inventory.

You can also take one on your own simply by ranking a list of values, like the ones listed below. Then you will have to match the values at the top of your list with careers that satisfy them.  has an excellent tool you can use to search for occupations that are suitable for those with particular work values.

Even within the same occupation, not every job will satisfy your work values. When evaluating a job offer, make sure your prospective employer's corporate culture is in line with what you find important. For example, if collaboration is something you feel strongly about, steer clear of a job that requires you to work without others' input. 

Examples and Definitions of Work Values

Here are examples of items that could appear on a work value inventory, along with a definition of each one. When reading this list, think about how important each value is to you.

  • Achievement:   Doing work that yields results 
  • Independence:  Working and making decisions on your own 
  • Recognition: Receiving attention for your work
  • Relationships:  Working alongside coworkers as well as helping others
  • Support:  Having supportive management
  • Working Conditions:  Being in an environment that you're comfortable with
  • Autonomy: Receiving little or no supervision
  • Helping Others:  Providing assistance to individuals or groups
  • Prestige: Having high standing
  • Job Security: Enjoying a high probability that you will remain employed
  • Collaboration:  Working with others
  • Helping Society: Contributing to the betterment of the world  
  • Compensation: Receiving adequate pay
  • Utilizing Your Skills and Background: Using your education and work experience to do your job
  • Leadership:  Supervising/ others 
  • Creativity:  Using your own ideas
  • Variety:  Doing different activities
  • Challenge:  Performing tasks that are difficult or new to you
  • Leisure:  Having adequate time
  • Recognition:  Receiving credit for achievements
  • Artistic Expression:  Expressing one's
  • Influence:  Having the ability to affect people's opinions and ideas

    Traits Other Than Work Values

    It is important to note that while your values play an essential role in career choice, you should not consider them in isolation. You must also look at your other traits including , , and .