The Psychology of the Career Search – Understanding Value

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life are those related to my understanding of value. In this post I’ll be taking a look at these lessons and how you can apply them to build a better life and a more fulfilling career.

1. You have inherent value and you control it.

Let’s start things off by examining your perception of your own value. Far too many people allow their value to be decided and controlled by other people. Here is something I want you to consider and take to heart. If I give you $10 and asked you how much it’s worth, you’d likely tell me it’s worth $10. If I then took that $10 bill and folded and creased it all up and asked you again, how much it’s worth, you’d still tell me $10. I could even take that $10 bill and draw all over it, spill coffee on it and put it on the ground and stomp on it and if I asked you how much it was worth, you’d still tell me it worth $10. So why is it that we are so quick to allow ourselves to be devalued by those around us or even worse, devalue ourselves? Much like the $10 bill in our example, you have inherent value and worth in this world and that value remains, regardless of how much money you have or don’t have and what your employment or current life situation is. Hold strong in your value.

2. Discover and clearly communicate the value you bring.

When you’re on the career hunt, one of the most important things for you to communicate to your potential new employer, is the value you bring. Value is not simply a list of your previous work experience and skills. Try taking a closer look at the impact you’ve had in your various work and life experiences and you’ll start to bring your value into focus. For myself, it took a bit of time to really see the common thread that tied my work, life and leadership experiences together. What I came to realize is that the value I bring is a gift for transforming people and organizations through learning, innovation and leadership. Your value proposition will be unique to you. Look closely at your life and work experience and see if you can spot any common themes that pop up. You can also ask your friends, family and colleagues to help you, as they can often see things that you may be blind to. Your success in the career hunt will improve significantly once you come to understand and believe in the value you have to offer and are able clearly articulate it.

3. Take the time to understand what you value.

When you are looking for your next dream job, you’ll want to get clear about what you are after and what you value. What gets you excited about your potential new employer and the role? Is it the amazing people and teams you’ll get to work with? Is it the impact you can make? Is it the kind of person you’d get to be while in this role? Perhaps it’s the cutting-edge technologies you’ll get to work with, or the opportunities for professional development? It could even be more practical things like flexible working hours or a shorter commute time. By getting clear about what you want and what you value, you’ll have a much greater chance of finding it, so invest the time and write it down.

4. Use your core values as a compass to help guide and show you the way.

As human beings, we are constantly presented with obstacles and challenges. There will be times in your life when you come to a fork in the road and need to make a decision. When you are lost in the woods, a compass can help show you the way. When we are feeling lost and uncertain about which direction to take in our life, our core values can act as our compass.  Everyone will have their own unique list of core values and It’s not about how many you have but about really understanding who you are as a person and what you strongly believe in and value.

My list of core values includes things like:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Humility
  • Impact
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Inclusion
  • Collaboration
  • Learning/Growth

When I come up against a situation or decision I need to make, I use my core values to help guide me to an answer that aligns with who I am. If you find yourself in a work or personal situation where your core values are routinely being run over or are severely out of alignment, this could be an indicator that this role, employer or person is not a good fit for you. Violating your core values will eventually wear you down and is not a good recipe for your long-term success and health. Try coming up with your own list of core values.

Rounding out this post I’d like to pass on a few TED talks I’ve found that may help you think more about value and provide more insight.

Find your dream job without ever looking at your resume | Laura Berman Fortgang

Know your worth, and then ask for it | Casey Brown