1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Identifying Your Work Values

Clarifying Your Work Values Leads to Job Satisfaction


Business woman getting advice from her boss
Musketeer/Digital Vision/Getty Images

What Are Work Values

Through out your life you acquired a set of values—beliefs and ideas that are important to you. For example you may believe that one should always be honest or that one must always be a loyal friend. You live your life according to this set of values. In order to have a happy, successful and fulfilling life, you must act upon your values, both in your personal life and at work. Taking your values into account when you choose a career could be the most important factor that determines whether you will or won't be satisfied with that aspect of your life.

Clarifying your work values, that subset of values that relate to your career, is essential. Your work values are both intrinsic, relating to the actual tasks involved in practicing a particular occupation, and extrinsic, relating to the by-products of an occupation. An intrinsic value might be helping others, while an example of an extrinsic value is earning a lot of money.

How to Identify Work Values

Career development professionals, including career counselors and career development facilitators, use work value inventories to measure how important various work values are to you. Generally, a work value inventory is simply a list of values that you are asked to rate. For example, the instructions may tell you to rate each value on a scale of one to 10, giving a one to those values that are most important to you and a 10 to those that are least important. Alternatively, you may be asked to list a series of work values in order of importance.

The results of a work value inventory are used to identify appropriate career choices, by matching an individual's work values with characteristics of occupations. A work value inventory is best used in conjunction with other self assessment instruments that help identify one's personality, interests and skills.

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.

  • Autonomy: receiving no or little supervision
  • Helping Others: providing assistance to individuals or groups
  • Prestige: having high standing
  • Job Security: a high probability that one will remain employed
  • Collaboration: working with others
  • Helping Society: contributing to the betterment of the world
  • Recognition: receiving attention for your work
  • Compensation: receiving adequate pay
  • Achievement: doing work that yields results
  • Utilizing Your Skills and Background: using your education and work experience to do your job
  • Leadership: supervising/managing others
  • Creativity: using your own ideas
  • Variety: doing different activities
  • Challenge: performing tasks that are difficult
  • Leisure: having adequate time away from work
  • Recognition: receiving credit for achievements
  • Artistic Expression: expressing one's artistic talents
  • Influence: having the ability to affect people's opinions and ideas

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.