For decades we have either chosen or been recommended work based on our interests. Many career assessments attempt to assign a specific job or field of work based on individual preferences. There can be some wisdom to working within your personal tendencies. However, as we will examine, even a job matching your interests can be undesirable if the surrounding setting conditions fail to meet your values.
By contrast, The US Department of Labor offers values based career assessments that do not recommend any specific type of work, only recommendations about the conditions such as: Support, Achievement, Recognition, Relationships, General Working Conditions, and Independence. This is an incredibly useful assessment as personal values are not always in the forefront of our awareness, yet influence our decisions daily.
Have you ever met someone with an unusual job that likes it? (i.e., mortician, waste management, sewer / water treatment) Odds are, these people did not aspire to this work since they were children. They likely have found work that has met their values. When we begin to match work to our values the potential places of employment expand tremendously often into realms we have never considered.
So why might picking by interest be leading us astray? Consider the inverse: A person loves cars and spends hours tunning up their car on the weekends. They decide to work as a mechanic on this basis. However, this same person is highly sociable and what they value most about their automotive hobby is the ability to connect with others by sharing their project. The reality of living life as a mechanic might be working alone, in the corner of a shop, wrenching away on an SUV. How long is this sustainable given the conflict in values? This example shows how values give a much broader perspective to career selection while choosing by interest has the possibility to overlook the underlying value that makes the interest attractive in the first place.
If you would like to discuss further your professional development, we support people in navigating their career development every day. Helping people live out their values through their work.
If you’d like to see what your career values are check out this link for the free assessment: https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Careers/work-values-matcher-assessment.aspx