Your Career Must-Haves 
What’s Most Important to You at Work

An essential step to discovering your authentic career fit is identifying your career priorities – what’s most important to you overall in your work life.

We all want a job that fits with who we are and allows us to genuinely be ourselves.  When we have a position like this, we are happier, more fulfilled and have a greater chance of success. 

Everyone has things that are important to them in their professional life.  And everyone has two to three top career priorities that are essential in order for them to experience on-the-job fulfillment.  To ensure your unique blend of needs are met, you must first understand your professional priorities and identify your top needs. 

For example, I am a mission-oriented person.  I have always been the kind of person who wants to “help make the world a better place.”  Upon graduating from college, I worked for my Member of Congress.  I thought being in this environment would be a great opportunity for me to live my mission of affecting positive change.  However, it didn’t satisfy me. 

Working as a small cog in the huge wheel of the United States Congress, it was nearly impossible to see the impact of my efforts or feel like I was creating any real results. 

I loved so many aspects of working in Congress; however, ultimately it was not the place for me because one of my main career priorities was not being met.  As you can see, this is a classic example of how a disconnect can exist between one’s work and one’s core values. 

Does this scenario of misaligned career priorities feel familiar to you?  In your current position, are essential elements missing for you?

Power Activity:  Work Values Brainstorm

The following brief exercise will help you identify and clarify your personal set of career priorities.  Read the following list of common work values.  Then, identify your top three.

As I describe each priority, decide for yourself which ones most closely match your preferences.  You may find you have a few of equal importance.  That is fine, but do narrow your list down to no more than three.  Doing so will allow you to get crystal clear on which career priorities are the very most important to you.  


Work Values

Social Affiliation

This means you need a social atmosphere in which you have lots of interaction with others, be it co-workers, colleagues at other organizations, clients, etc.


Intellectual Stimulation

You thrive in an intellectually stimulating environment.  You want to be afforded the opportunity to continuously learn new things and take on new challenges.



This is a desire for self-determination.  For example, control over how you carry out your assignments and how you schedule your time.



A desire to make a difference and “do good” for your community and the world as a whole.  Professionals with this career priority are often drawn to public service careers in the nonprofit or government sector. 


If a top career priority for you is money, this may mean a desire for stability and security, or it may mean a desire for status, keeping up with your peers, etc.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money.  I frequently hear my clients apologizing for wanting to earn a high salary.  Perhaps because we often get the message that the desire to make a decent salary indicates greed or selfishness.  Making money is nothing to be apologetic about.  



Having creative outlets to express yourself is very important to you.  You need a work environment in which you can nurture your creative ideas and put them into action.



You desire a position that allows your efforts to be acknowledged by others on a regular basis.  You need to feel appreciated and acknowledged for a job well done.



This is a desire for large-scale influence over others and formal power.  For example, you want to be the Director, President or CEO.



You value free time to spend with your friends, family, hobbies, etc.  You seek a job that will allow you to have plenty of time to yourself.



Having fun at work is very important to you.  You want to be in an organizational culture with a convivial, collaborative and congenial atmosphere.



This is a desire for freedom from the confines of a conventional job – that is, externally imposed deadlines and work schedules.  Workers with this value like to call their own shots and set their own priorities.


Now, take a few minutes to identify your top three career priorities.  Reread the above descriptions so you can feel in your gut which three most strongly resonate with you.  To gain clarity, ask yourself the following questions:  

  • Which career priorities do I feel strongly attracted to?
  • Which ones are top motivators for me?
  • Which ones are absolute must-haves (cannot live without in my career)?

While many of these may seem appealing, narrow it down to your top three must-haves.  This is important because as you move forward in your career you will most likely be faced with job opportunities offering some of what you want, but not everything.  You’ll need to be able to distinguish the great opportunities from the merely good ones.  Having your top three career priorities clearly defined will help you make the best decision for you. 

My Top Three Career Priorities


Career Priority #1




Career Priority #2





Career Priority #3





The second step is guaranteed to give you unexpected clarity.  Write a few sentences on each value describing why it is important to you.  Being clear on your most deeply held values is pivotal defining your ideal career fit.  Such awareness greatly increases your chances of working in a fulfilling position truly right for you.


Description of Why Career Priority #1 is Important to Me










Description of Why Career Priority #2 is Important to Me










Description of Why Career Priority #3 is Important to Me









Excellent work.  You did it!  Now you have a clear idea of the essential elements you need for career fulfillment.  Moving forward, you can use this valuable information to make informed decisions about your professional future.   

If you need help formulating solid definitions of your career priorities, feel free to schedule a private, one-on-one coaching session with me.  I will help you identify your top career values so your professional vision will be a match with who you are and what you want out of your work life.

Click here to schedule your personal coaching session.

Now, let’s move on to your Career Success Guide to Pinpointing Your Professional Passions.




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