Trade-off – using your core values to find a job

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This is the third post in what was originally supposed to be a two-part series on core values to find a job. In my first draft of Mixing values with organisational culture, I began writing about the sacrifices that sometimes get made when starting a career. Rather than make you read a 2,000 word post, I’ve separated my final thoughts into this third installment. Make sure you read the earlier sections for background information.


I wish I could tell you that you will be able to start your career in a job and organisation that meets all your core values. Experience tells me it isn’t likely.

In the first two posts on values and your career, I explained what values are and how they should be used to guide your chosen career, wherever it may lead you. At the very end of part-two, I mentioned that there are many, many values that make up a person and a significant portion of those aren’t obviously related to work. These include values such as family, politeness, tradition, humour, cleanliness and even imagination – there are heaps of values and some of them will be your core values.

Your core values affect all areas of your life. Obvious or not, they’re going to affect your career.


The trade-off

As I said in part-one, if you’re not having your core values met, you’re going to have a bad time. But as a graduate, this can be a lot more nuanced than someone a bit further down the line in his or her career. Sometimes trade-offs or sacrifices are made in the pursuit of that first opportunity, or second, or third, or fourth – although it is much more likely that you’ll make these sacrifices for your first “professional” job. Doing this is okay, but you need to come to terms with any trade-off that you might make at the start of your career.

We’ve already talked about ranking your values to determine your core values, but how do you rank your core values? How do those core values that seem unrelated to work stack up against your aspirations to start your career?

It’s likely something will have to give, for the time being at least.

Scenarios to consider:

  • If family is a core value, can you accept homesickness for a leadership role that requires you to move away or long hours at the office?
  • If you highly value imagination, can you accept a job that requires you to perform set tasks for the opportunity to learn from a creative mentor?
  • Can you reconcile your value of politeness with a fast-paced job that has little time for pleasantries but can develop your confidence?


What you should do

I can’t tell you what is right or wrong for you. Ultimately, it’s your happiness and career, but I can tell you that I have seen plenty of employees, not just graduates, fail after accepting roles that didn’t meet their most important core values.

I didn’t make up the examples above, by the way. I’ve seen people in those situations not able to cope with being away from family; doing uncreative tasks; or working with co-workers who didn’t meet their standards of polite.

You will most likely have to trade one core value for another at several points throughout your career and you will also have to find a way to either be satisfied with that trade-off or find another way to meet that core value outside of the office. This can be hard. You can satisfy your value of creativity through activities in your free time, but can you find a way to replace family?

Resilience is not only valuable when looking for that first job. It can also help you meet your career aspirations once you’ve started. Sign up to Successful Graduate’s online course now to learn how to become an independent and resilient grad ready to start their career.

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