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Part of Western Governors University

August 15, 2019

Business

How to match your business values to your career.

Business people discuss various values displayed out on a white board.

While you and your business colleagues might not share the same dream job, you all probably want to feel like you belong in the careers you've chosen. You want the opportunity to use and grow your knowledge and skills. You want to feel proud of your work and excited to get up every morning and get at it.

If you're pursuing a business degree, your best chance of finding that ideal job after you graduate is to seek a career that aligns with your business values.

Knowing what matters.

It's easy to become so focused on your subject matter interests, credentials, and salary goals—all of which are important to your career plans—that you never stop to consider how your beliefs and motivations should guide the career path you choose.

In Forbes, career coach Rebecca Zucker writes that recalling your peak experiences—the times when you felt strong, confident, and alive—can help you identify your core values. Maybe you were the summer camp counselor that the loneliest kids knew they could confide in. The satisfaction you receive from helping them overcome anxiety might be a sign that you'd be well-suited for a business role as a team leader, mentor, or corporate trainer. These careers bring out the best in others and help them succeed.

But Zucker also notes that you can learn a lot about your values by considering negative experiences. If you hated the feeling of being micromanaged on a job or class project, you might greatly value autonomy. The best career path for you could involve the freedom and creativity to make your own procedures. A career in management, where you can use innovative strategies to guide teams to success, might enable you to stretch your business creativity and empower you to empower others without micromanaging them.

A deeper self-assessment.

A self-assessment can help you dig deeper to discover your business values. Monster's checklist, for example, lets you rank 15 intrinsic, extrinsic, and lifestyle values. Intrinsic work-related values, such as feeling respected and helping others, are the intangible things that keep you motivated and engaged. Extrinsic values relate to such tangible job rewards as travel, pay, and time off. Lifestyle values include things such as spending time with friends and family, places you want to live, and your personal financial goals. Understanding your values can help you determine which business job opportunity is best for you.

You can create your own personal career planning checklist or guide by answering these and other values-related questions:

  • Which of your accomplishments has made you proudest? Which has made you the happiest?

  • Are you drawn to certain types of businesses and industries because you admire the work they do?

  • What ethical standards do you believe business organizations should follow?

  • What kinds of business missions or practices run counter to your values or make you feel uncomfortable?

  • How do you think businesses should relate to the communities they operate in?

  • How would you describe your ideal relationship with your boss and co-workers?

When you're checking out employer websites, job descriptions in career guides, and profiles of successful business people, think about whether they match your vision of an ideal workplace or career. When you feel a connection with a company's mission, look for specific roles within the company that resonate with your interests and experience.

Along with your knowledge, skills, and interests, your business values are essential to finding your best career path. By taking the time to reflect on your values, you could be setting yourself up for a long, fulfilling and successful career.

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