A Values-Based Approach to Career Planning

Many Native American and Indigenous students value community and service over individualism. These ideals, often rooted in cultural and spiritual beliefs stemming from ancestral customs, still hold today while guiding career planning and decisions. Similar to how these cultures and beliefs are inherent in the life process of Native American and Indigenous students, the Center for Career Development believes that career development is a lifelong process that is both unique and transformative. We encourage all job seekers to consider taking a values-based approach towards their career journey. Each person participates in the career development process differently based on their lived experiences, which form worldviews and values.

A values-based approach emphasizes and prioritizes the importance of values over all other career decision-making elements such as interest, skills, and personality. In this approach, there are three types of values – cultural, work, and life values. Each of these value systems informs goals and aids in the decision-making process. A great way to get started with a values-based approach is to self-assess and evaluate your values, explicitly examining what matters to you.

Here are a variety of ways that you can get started with this approach to career development. Self-reflection is one of the best ways to initiate the process of taking a values-based approach. Taking time to answer questions can assist you as you navigate the complexities of your unique career journey. Below is a list of questions to get you started:

  1. What is important to you?
  2. How do you define success?
  3. When have you been most inspired or most motivated?
  4. Who or What has influenced my ideas about my career options?
  5. How do you want to be remembered?
  6. Who or what do you look up to?
  7. If you were guaranteed success, what would your life look like?

In addition to self-reflection, the Center for Career Development provides a self-assessment tool known as Focus2 Career. This resource guides you through reliable and intuitive career assessments that help you explore occupations and make informed career decisions. The Focus2 platform offers five typological assessments that measure interest, personality, skills, and values. Click here to get started with Focus2.

In summary, career decision making and planning are amongst some of the most challenging choices many of us will make in our lives. Knowing your values and having a plan for success can best inform goals and drive execution. Decide what you value most and examine how the resources around you can aid in your pursuit of success. Your values should always be considered when looking for new opportunities. Take an inventory of the opportunity and prioritize what matters most to you.

While each of these resources can be completed independently, we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with a career coach on Handshake to either get started or discuss your findings. Click here to meet with a Career Coach.


  1. Brown, D., Crace, R. K., & Almeida, L. (2006). A culturally sensitive, values-based approach to career counseling. In A. J. Palmo, W. J. Weikel, & D. P. Borsos (Eds.), Foundations of mental health counseling (pp. 144-171). Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.
  2. Crace, R. K., & Brown, D. (2002). Life Values Inventory. Williamsburg, VA: Applied Psychology Resources. Available from http://www.appliedpsychologyresources.com/

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By Wiley Dawson
Wiley Dawson Career Consultant Wiley Dawson