Career Scrabble Julie Walraven


Career Scrabble Julie Walraven


Photo Credit Julie Walraven

My recent guest blog post “Passions or Paycheck” on Integrative Academic Solutions sparked a lively discussion on LinkedIn. One of the commenters raised a fantastic point: passion is just one of a number of variables that you need to take into account when you are making career decisions. If you’re paying attention to your career values, they should influence every aspect of your career from job searching to the type of employer you work for, as well as your long and short term planning. So what exactly are career values, and how do you know what yours are?

Career values encompass everything from work/life balance, morals, and religious/social/cultural conventions to recognition, financial compensation, upward mobility, and leadership/authority. Your values are as important as your skills, and they will change over time. For example, when I entered my doctoral program, I moved to a different country, worked for low wages, and had very little time that was spent away from my research and teaching, but I received recognition from my family and friends, helped students improve their skills, and indulged my passion for making new discoveries and using my intellect. Fast forward 3 years during that same program, and I was less impressed with the status of what I was doing and was already planning for my eventual return home to look for a job that would allow me to support myself financially, and which offered a better balance between my professional and personal life. What happened? I turned 30 and my values changed to reflect what I then considered to be most important to me.

Everyone’s values are different, and there are no right or wrong answers. I don’t normally use or even refer to assessments in my coaching practice, but when I work with career changers or PhDs, I always find an “aha” moment when we start to examine career values. Thankfully, the executive search firm of Stewart Cooper & Coon has a free interactive version of the career values card sort on their site, and I encourage you to take the test. When you know what is truly important to you, and what you are willing to sacrifice, finding the right employer becomes a whole lot easier.

Care to share? What are your top 5 career values? Email me at or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

My thanks to G. for the inspiration.