Interests and Values

When you’re making a career change it’s important to start with your own interests and values.  Many of us make the mistake of choosing a job that’s recommended by our friends and family, rather than choosing the job that’s right for us.

So, what are you interested in?  Music? Environment? Technology? Politics? Travel?

What are your values?  Making a difference? Achieving status? Becoming an expert?

Identify your interests

Get a piece of paper (or use a notes app on your device) and write down everything you are interested in.  You may have one or two key interests, or you may have several – it doesn’t matter – write them all down.

If you’re struggling to think of your interests, ask yourself these questions:

What’s your favourite film / TV show / video game / book / song?  What’s it about?

What do you like to do in your spare time?  Or what would you like to do, if money was no object?

What do you like talking about?  What do you like learning about?

  • Look at your list, then circle/highlight a maximum of 3 interests.


Identify your values

Now think about what motivates you in your career – what drives you?

Edgar Schein identified 8 sets of values, known as ‘Career Anchors’.  Which one of these describes you best?

Technical / functional: You like being good at something and will work hard to become an expert in your field.

Managerial: You like being responsible for a team or department of people.

Autonomy / independence: You like to develop your own rules and prefer to work alone.

Security / stability: You like to have stability and continuity in your work, and you generally avoid risk.

Entrepreneurial creativity: You like to invent and create things, and you may prefer to run your own business.

Service / dedication to a cause:  You like to help others in your work and see how you can make a difference to their lives.

Pure challenge:  You like solving difficult problems and finding new challenges in your work.

Lifestyle: Your lifestyle is very important to you and your work must fit into your preferred pattern of living.

You may identify with more than one of these ‘anchors’, but Schein’s theory is that over time, only one will be your true anchor.  Ask yourself – which one of these anchors is most likely to be true for me in 5-10 years time?

Knowing your career anchor can help you understand what your true values are and can help you make career decisions that are right for you.

  • Write down your career anchor and any words that describe your values.

Now you have identified your interests and values, move on to Step 3 – Personality and Culture.