3 steps to values-based career decisions

Whether you're grappling with questions about taking on a new role at work, job-hunting, returning to work or considering a career change, values can be a great place to start.

Like Comment

What should I do? 

What will people think?

What if I make the wrong choice?

Making decisions about the important stuff in life can be difficult and the pressure is often greatest when we're making decisions about our career. 

Whether you're grappling with questions about taking on a new role at work, job-hunting, returning to work or considering a career change, values can be a great place to start. 

Values are the things that are important to us, the things that really matter, and by aligning our values with our choices, we can create clear direction, energy, engagement and fulfilment. Conversely, when we lose sight of our core values, which often happens when we take on greater responsibility, lose our sense of self, or find ourselves swayed by the views of others, it can lead to dissatisfaction, disengagement, and a lack of direction. 

So when it comes to making career decisions, here are 3 ways to make a values-based choice:

1. Identify your values

Before you start scrolling through websites and asking others for their opinions, ask yourself some questions. What’s important to you? What do you love to spend your time doing?  What are the qualities that you admire in others? Examples might include creativity, courage, empathy, leadership, ambition, kindness, work/ life balance, respect, authenticity, inspiration. All of these answers will give you clues as to what’s important to you in this next stage of your career.

2. Do your research

A whizzy website or glossy brochure will only ever give you part of the story of what it's really like to work in an organisation. What’s important to them? What are their values? Do you see and/ or feel them as part of their website, communications, a visit, the working environment, conversations with current/ previous employees? Be sure to talk to more than one person to get a real sense of what the organisation is like for those currently there. 

3. Aim for alignment

Having identified your values, and those of the organisations you’re considering, you can now identify the closest match. But remember that there may need to be compromise. If, for example, your choice involves costly travel that you really can’t stretch to, or the job is based just around the corner but doesn’t appear to provide the professional development or culture that you need to thrive, this isn’t true alignment. 


To learn more about values, and the essential role it plays in building resilience, head to my website or why not join my Facebook group Resilient Women.

Pam Cottman

Coach and resilience trainer and speaker, Pam Cottman

I am a coach and resilience trainer and speaker - and a mum. A former Assistant Headteacher, I spent 14 years working with students, staff, parents and governors to support the development of young people and my teams. I now run my own business, working with individuals, schools and organisations, supporting them to build resilience and reach their potential, focusing particularly on values, growth mindset, confidence in mind and body and the self-care tools which help people to cope with challenging situations. I am a member of the International Coach Federation.