A1: Determine your core values


What are values? Simply, our personal values are the things that are most important to us. They can be used to help navigate decisions.
Your values will determine what makes you feel content in a career or not. Clarifying and articulating your personal values can help you be much clearer about what you want (and don’t want) from your career.
You may currently be in a job which makes sense logically, i.e. it fits with your skillset, it provides a good salary or enables you to live in a particular location. If, however, your personal values are not fulfilled (or even trampled on) by your work and working environment, the job will not fulfil you in the long term.
Your values will differ from other people’s and may not make sense to others, which makes it difficult for others to be able to tell you what career might suit you.
If you can find a career that aligns with your values, you are more likely to feel fulfilled in the long term, and more motivated to make changes and compromises to pursue that career.


  • Complete the Barrett Values Centre’s simple personal values assessment, and receive a personalised report with reflective exercises (you may have to log in or provide your email address for these exercises)

Case study quotes

After applying for a few different jobs I met a university Careers Adviser who finally challenged me to stop complaining about my job and to think about what I enjoyed. I realised that I really enjoyed teaching and dissertation supervision, so I stopped thinking in job titles, and tried to find a job that would let me do those things. Source: Lorna Dargan, Vitae career stories.

If anything, I now feel more at home in the third sector than in academia. I have stimulating colleagues whose values I share. I love the variety of people I engage with – a much greater range than I met in academia. I love getting immediate feedback for the work I do, rather than waiting for months or years for outcomes in academia. I even prefer ‘little things’ like being able to dress more smartly for work sometimes.  Emma Gray. Head of Biomedical Research, Multiple Sclerosis Society, UK. Former research staff in molecular neuroscience, King’s College London, UK.

Although funding was available to continue my research, I chose self-employment instead. It was a better fit with my interests and values, and I believed it would offer better long-term prospects. Nevio Dubbini. Self-employed data analyst. Postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pisa, Italy: Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and Mathematics Department.


Back to A: Know yourself A2: Career motivations