Define your personal core values to advance your career

If you’d like to advance your career and reach your professional goals, you may be thinking about ensuring you have the right education, that you work hard, and that you network with the right people. But one often overlooked aspect that can be key to making career progression much easier is to ensure you’re working for an employer with company values that align with your own personal ones.  

sixty six per cent of respondents say that a company's commitments are important when applying for a job

Why are aligned values so important? 

Two-thirds (66%) of people say their potential employer’s sustainability initiatives are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them. That’s according to our recent Sustainability Insights survey of 4,755 workers and job seekers across Continental Europe, conducted between May and June of 2022. In fact, 64% of those respondents citing sustainability as being ‘important’ or ‘very important’ also say the absence of a sustainability programme would influence their decision on whether to take a job (42% of overall respondents). 

When your personal core values match with your employer’s values, you’re likely to be happier and more inspired to do your best work. When your work ethics are aligned, you can feel like you’re making a positive impact in a way that matters to you, leading to greater employee well-being.  

You’re not only motivated by a pay cheque, but you’re also intrinsically motivated to do your best work and to help your employer to do well. 

The first step to making this happen is to understand what motivates you, and what are your values. 

How do you define career success? 

Career success can mean many things to many people. Externally, success may look like a big salary, company car, business class travel, fancy title or a fast track up the promotion ladder – and while there’s no denying that these things can be attractive, what also makes us feel successful can be deeply personal and less obvious – and it will most likely change over time. 

Some of those less obvious factors that may help you feel successful in your career include your day-to-day role and the fulfilment it brings you, as well as feeling like you can be your true self at work. Flexibility is important to 64% of people, who say they value companies that are “open regarding work conditions or flexibility”, providing a healthy work-life balance that acknowledges employees have a life outside of work by offering a hybrid working environment or remote working. Our New Year’s Resolution survey (2022) indicates that 40% of the Dutch workforce expects flexible working hours and 23% want the option of working remotely. 

Gender diversity is another important issue, with 69% of people in our survey telling us that being a part of a company that practises diversity and inclusion is important to them. Over half (52%) of women say they are in favour of positive discrimination to encourage a more balanced gender distribution in their company.  

Organisations that perform well when measured against these metrics are valued highly by workers. Of course, these are just some of the more commonly cited factors that contribute towards career success. Yours may be entirely different. What’s important is that you take the time to think about your own values and definition of career success. 

Know how to choose a job that matches your personal core values  

So how do you ensure you’re choosing a job with an organisation that aligns with your own personal values? Let’s take it step by step. 

Step 1: What are your personal values?

Take some time to perform your own values assessment to understand exactly what matters to you. This doesn’t have to be daunting so try to have some fun with it.  

  1. Print out and cut up these values cards, and spread all of the values out in front of you. Place the ‘important to me’ and ‘not important to me’ cards on either side of you. 
  2. Sort through each of the value cards and assign them as either important or not important, placing them under their appropriate card. 
  3. Once you’ve completed your first sort-through, put all the cards in the ‘not important’ category to one side. 
  4. Now place the ‘important to me’ and ‘very important to me’ cards out on the table. 
  5. Sort through your remaining cards and assign them to either heading.  
  6. Remove the ‘important to me’ cards, and then select your top 5 values from the ‘very important to me’ collection. 
  7. Is there anything missing? Use a blank card to write it down so you can include it in your top 5 values. 
  8. Remember, there is no right or wrong – just what is important to you, which is very personal and individual.  

Another option (choose one or both!) is to create your own vision board of how you would like your life to look. This can be particularly helpful if you are more of a visual thinker. Divide your vision board up into categories that are important to you, such as career, health, wealth, family and lifestyle. You can use the below image as inspiration or create your own. 

Fill in the vision board with images, words or a combination of both and put it up somewhere you’ll see it regularly to remind yourself of what you’re hoping to achieve. 

Vision board Visual

Step 2: What are your career ´non-negotiables´?

Using your personal values and/or your vision board as a cue, make a list of non-negotiables that you require from your employer. For example, if one of your personal values is acceptance, a non-negotiable could be a comprehensive diversity and inclusion policy. Or, if one of your personal values is adventure, a non-negotiable from your employer might be the opportunity to travel or experience diverse types of work. 

Look for what motivates you and think about what you consider important and less important in your personal and work life. And then also distinguish for yourself between 'negotiable' and 'non-negotiable'. For instance, is your most important core value flexibility? Then that is therefore 'non-negotiable' and it is best to look for an employer who has those same core values.

Joost Fortuin – Senior Managing Director at PageGroup The Netherlands 

Step 3: What is the company’s corporate culture, and does it align with my values and goals?

This is where you’ll need to do your own research to find out what the corporate culture is like, and whether you are likely to feel nurtured and supported in your job role. Some ways you can do this are: 

  • Look at the company website and search for its corporate values. This may be on the ‘about us’ page, or front and centre on their home page. While this may not always reflect a company’s day-to-day culture, it is a good place to start, and a truly values-led organisation will fly its values flag prominently for all to see. 
  • Check staff reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to see how an organisation is viewed. A handful of bad reviews aren’t necessarily anything to be concerned about, but if the same issue crops up consistently, and doesn’t seem to change over time, this may mean the company isn’t listening to feedback or doesn’t have the resources to fix the problem. 
  • Check the company’s LinkedIn page commitments, which gives them the opportunity to publicly share their values along with other meaningful content such as reports, certifications, articles, blogs and videos. You can also search LinkedIn for companies that have relevant commitments. A company that takes the time to share its values on LinkedIn is a great start but check to see how they align with yours. 

You can also see some tips on how to search for a green job, and how to spot ‘greenwashing’ in this video

Having a career with an organisation that aligns with your personal core values can be the difference between every day being a struggle, and bouncing out of bed each morning, excited to go to work. The trickle-down effect can mean you’re happier, not just in your job, but in all aspects of your life because you’re feeling supported, celebrated, and fulfilled.  

If that’s not where you are right now, that’s okay. It’s never too late to make a positive change in your career and your life. Work your way through the exercises above and take a step towards a better way of working. The changes it can have in your life will be worth the effort. 


How can you find a job that will make you feel more fulfilled? Find out how to define your personal core values and find a job that aligns with them.

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