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Why you should know your core values when searching for a job

When clients tell me that they send applications but don’t get any responses from companies or get a ‘no’, I always ask, “What made you apply for the job?”

Instead of answering “it would be a step up in my career” for example, which would show ambition to grow and learn something new, they will say they applied because it was a similar role to their current one.

I’ll normally dig a bit deeper by asking questions like:

  • What was it about the job that made you want to apply in the first place? 
  • Why did you think you were a good fit? 
  • Was it a particular part of the role that excited you? 
  • Does the company’s mission resonate with you?

Most of the time, I get vague answers or “I’m not sure”.

Having worked in Human Resources for over a decade, and now as an independent career coach, I have come to recognise the number one issue for job candidates.

It’s this:

Not knowing who they are and why they do what they do.

Knowing who you are, and why you do what you do are the keys to attracting the right companies and avoiding rejections.

All of this starts by knowing your core values. 

Once you understand these, you’ll be sure to identify jobs and companies that align with who you are, instead of wasting your time, energy and emotions applying for the wrong ones.

What are core values?

Indeed.com defines core values as a set of fundamental beliefs, ideals or, practices that inform how you conduct your life, both personally and professionally. Businesses can also have and maintain core values. These can help an organization determine how to allocate resources, make important decisions, and grow.

In other words, core values are the basic elements of how an individual or an organisation behaves and what he/she believes in. They are the heart of what an organisation or individual stand for, they represent the driving force. 

Awareness of your values is a starting point to understand one-self.

Below is an exercise I have practiced with clients who wanted to find a fulfilling career and to identify their values

An exercise to help you identify your core values

Step 1

Identify your core values which act as your guide in life. Your values represent what is important to you and this is reflected in how you act (the way you do things, your habits)

Ask yourself:

  • What makes me happy? What is going on when I am happy? What values are in play at that time?
  • What is important to me in life? At work? How do I feel when those important elements happen?
  • How do I behave when my values are being compromised?
  • How do I behave when my values are being respected?

For example one of my core values is being independent. I believe that being able to make my own decisions and to follow my gut are important.

When you come up with your list of values, in a table like the one below: range them in order of priorities, and think about how you feel about them. Do you feel connected?  What type of emotions or feelings do you get? (Use an ‘Emotions Wheel’ to help you identify them).

To help you rank your values, ask yourself from a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 is the least important and 5 is most important.

My valueScore from 1-5

Step 2

Write down your own definition for each value in your list, see below:

My valueWhat does this value mean to me?
(Create a definition that has a meaning to you).
CaringTaking the time to invest in people and
acknowledge/appreciate/respect their contributions.
IndependenceTaking the end-responsibility for a project, big or small,
personal or professional, individual or in a group, with
or without help of others.
BelongingThe sense of being equally appreciated by others and
part of a group.
PeopleThe subject of my WHY. Acknowledging the importance
of investing in the people surrounding me.
MeaningThe sum of the above 4 values.
The feeling I’ll get during my journey towards the realization
of my purpose, my goal, my passion.

Step 3

Now that you have your list of values, align them to your career.

Reflect on the type of roles or companies you worked for, and think about in which roles or companies your values were compromised or aligned. This will give you some ideas as to the type of roles and companies you should apply for next time.

For 5 more career change exercises, see Exercises I wish I’d done before changing career .

Get to know yourself before applying for jobs

Companies are looking for candidates who know themselves and what they stand for. They want employees to enjoy their roles and stick around for the long term.

Having the skills and experience is good, but being in a role aligned with your values and the company’s mission is even better.

The more you know yourself, the more you will aim for the right jobs and the more chance of success you’ll have.

If you need help identifying your core values and aligning them with your job search strategy, book a free consultation with me today.

Sylvia Nicolas

Sylvia Nicolas
Verified Coach
Verified for professional standards and commitment to clients. Read more Close

Sylvia is a career transition coach. With one-to-one online coaching she helps people discover a new career path and make the practical steps towards it. Email sylvia@snhumanresourcesconsulting.com to find out more or book a free consultation with Sylvia right now.

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