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Values and your career choice

Patricia Grant-Kitson,
Career Writer

Do you know whether your personal values and needs match your career choice? If you haven't considered how your current job, or the jobs you are seeking, will impact on your day-to-day life and fit in with your personal set of values, then you've missed a major component in your career choice process.
Rondolph Pohlman and Gareth Gardiner in their book, Value Driven Management, state that individuals will not excel in organisations unless their personal values are compatible and congruent with those of the organisation. This is because of what they refer to as the 'Value Theory', which is that 'what people value drives their actions.' Hence, values, our long-lasting beliefs about what is right, wrong, important or unimportant in a variety of situations, influence our motivation, suitability and preferences for specific careers, jobs and working environments.
For example, would you be comfortable working for a cigarette or liquor-manufacturing company or a lottery company? Would you prefer a job as a high-profile salesperson or a social worker? Would you enjoy working in a small business as opposed to a large corporation? Would you be more comfortable working with figures or with people? Would you be happy with a job that requires you to work on weekends? The answers to these depend on your values.
Others try to make the values of family, friends and society their values and seek, for example, prestige, power and a high income in specific careers. The result is usually low to moderate career success, low job satisfaction and even burnout.


Specifically, the values inventory will allow you to:

*Prioritise your personal values (achievement, family life, leisure time, money, prestige, recognition, safety, personal growth, etc.)

*Identify career/work must-haves (relationship with co-workers and managers, amount of autonomy, travel opportunities, opportunity for training and promotion, etc.)

*Identify elements essential to job satisfaction in order of importance

Research has found that the leading cause of job burnout among employees is the mismatch between their personal values and the realities of their job/career.
Also to be noted is that personal values are not constant, they change over time. As a result, a job that fits your values when you first embarked on the particular career may not fit your values 10 years later.
There have been cases, for instance, where doctors left their practice for other professions, such as a full-time musician, or where business professionals left the corporate world to become teachers.
As you make your career decisions, do keep in mind that your values affect your job satisfaction. Do you know your career-related values at this point in time? One way to think through them is to complete a values inventory.
Since persons often struggle to identify and state what they want out of their work, except for income, the values inventory will help you brainstorm and assess your personal needs and the non-monetary things that motivate you in relation to your career choice.

Patricia Grant-Kitson is a human resource management and training consultant. Email:
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