Why values can make all the difference in your career

You’re on an exciting professional journey. We know this because you’re a woman working in tech!

There’s currently an abundance of opportunity, innovation, and demand for skills like yours. The tide is turning on diversity, equality and inclusion in this traditionally male-skewed industry, too. Women and minorities are being recognized more and more. (Yay to amazing role models we can look to!)

So your future holds plenty of potential. But with the average person spending approximately 90,000 hours of their lifetime working, how can you ensure you’re not just swallowed up by your career? How can you work to achieve your professional goals, without losing what makes you ‘you’?

Identifying your work values, and aligning your career goals to them, can help you strike the right balance. So let’s look at how to leverage your values for career success.

Building career goals around your values

You have a unique set of values when it comes to work. We all do. And these will be a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic values, which direct us towards certain careers. 

  • Intrinsic values are task-oriented. You might enjoy and value certain parts of the work you do, like helping others, being challenged or leading a team.
  • Extrinsic values are about what you ‘get’ from your work. For example, financial security, praise and recognition, or a sense of contributing to something worthwhile.

Both types of values are important, but you may find that some rank higher than others. For example, you might prefer to trade in high earnings for an opportunity to help people.

Not sure what your values are? the balance careers offers a list of possible work values to get you thinking about it.

The power of values + strengths

Knowing your values alone won’t allow you to achieve your career goals. You also need skills, talents and actions to make it happen. You already have strengths, but may need to identify, refine and leverage your strengths at work to get full use out of them. 

You’ll have an assortment of soft skills (i.e. organization, creativity) and hard skills (i.e. writing, engineering). Learning what yours are, and how they can be utilized in line with your work values, is what can help you land on the best sort of work for you. 

(Bonus! Think about how your personality traits might play into this too. You might value autonomy at work but be an extroverted person by nature, so working from home or without much team input might not suit you.)

Putting it in action: Planning for career success

Find ‘your thing’

If you’re early on in your career, you may not be clear yet on what exactly you want to do. Knowing your values can help you nut this out and identify your ‘life’s purpose’, so you can design a fulfilling career around that.

Plan, but stay open

The dreaded ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ interview question… When asked of you, it can feel like you’re expected to have your life perfectly organized and mapped out. But it’s reasonable to answer this in terms of values (“I’d like to be doing work that challenges and inspires me”) rather than achievements (“I’d like to be in a leadership position”).

It’s okay to put some timeframes and structure around your career plan if that motivates you, but try to stay open to change in case your values pull you in another direction. 

This takes the pressure off you, and makes life more flexible and fun!

Use the tools available to you

As a career driven woman, you’re always looking to grow and reach your professional ambitions. This can be exceptionally challenging in highly competitive industries such as the tech scene – especially when you’re contending with family planning considerations, and potential bias against your age, race or gender to boot. 

It’s important to use the tools available to you to help you succeed.

Start small

Perhaps you’re waiting for an epiphany on what to do next in your career. We hate to break it to you, but that epiphany may not come.

The best thing you can do to achieve your career goals is to start with daily, actionable steps in the right direction. 

If you have dreams of becoming the most knowledgeable X professional in the country, you could start by reading quality content on the subject every day to feed your desire to learn and grow. Developing consistency with the small things can build motivational momentum for the larger things.

Enjoy the journey

Embracing your work values may not always be a direct path to traditional forms of ‘success’. But it will almost certainly lead to your form of success.

We often think of career goals as things like employment, promotions, recognition and esteem. But if you’re living in line with your values, you may be led to leave a job, pass up an opportunity, choose one path over another, or make countless other difficult decisions. Either way, it’s all progress. 

Remember, every success story is different. Your career goals may not work to the same timeframe as you expect, but that’s okay. 

Stay strong. Trust yourself. And know that the journey is just as important as the end-goal.

So what do you think? Let us know your thoughts.


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