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4 Tips for Finding a Job that Fits Your Values

9 Nov, 2015

4 Tips for Finding a Job that Fits Your Values

This is a revised version of a post I originally had on my blog titled “8 Tips to Finding a Job That Fits Your Values,” but felt this would fit well for the Career Experts audience. So please enjoy:

Back in my parents’ day, you got a job and often stuck with it until retirement. Today, spending your entire career in one company or job situation is rare.

And thank goodness for that! Without the current job climate where change is a given, I might have spent my life as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, a job I started so I could pay the bills in college but continued with for a few years after I graduated. There is nothing wrong with a career in selling cosmetics, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to discover what makes me happiest (and still pays the bills): career coaching and resume writing.

Change—although scary—can be great. Take it from the woman who worked many jobs between doing Mary Kay and now: when you find that “thing” that makes you excited to go to work, or that uses your best skills, or that fulfills your need for recognition, or wealth, or doing good in the world… the risks that you took to get there, and the discomfort you might have felt are all worth it.

How do you know if a job is “right” for you? How do you know if it’s time to make a change? It’s all about how your values line up against the job you’re doing or the one you’re considering.

Here’s a list of questions to help you define your values:

  • What are your strengths? Could you sell an outdoor swimming pool in Antarctica? Are you a wiz with numbers? Perhaps you’re a great listener. A brilliant innovator. Or even a “decent” writer. Taking stock of your strengths is critical to finding a good job “fit.”
  • What tasks do you enjoy? Do you enjoy taking things apart? Troubleshooting programming code? Hunting down bad guys? Soliciting donations for worthy causes? Or even—horrors—cleaning and straightening things up? Write those things down.
  • What industries most interest you? Banking? Oil and gas? Higher education? Politics? Targeting the right industry can make a big difference in your overall career happiness, because each one has its own culture and demands.
  • How much, and what kind of, compensation is important to you? Perhaps you want a minimum of three weeks’ vacation, or perhaps you’re more concerned with stock options. Maybe you merely want a job that will cover your weekly professional baseball game habit. Or you could be desperate for a job with affordable health benefits.

Although there are many more questions you can ask yourself to determine your values, these should provide a great starting point for finding out what’s important to you. So ‘fess up now: if you’re currently employed, how well does your current job match your values? If you’re between jobs, did thinking about these questions open your eyes to the poor fits you may have had in past jobs?

I highly recommend making a written list of all your values. In essence, they are your “job requirements.” They are just as important in evaluating job opportunities as determining whether you meet the employer’s job requirements.

Let your values and your heart tell you whether it’s time to make a change in your career. It doesn’t have to be scary. If you need help, please feel free to reach out to me.

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