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For Work

Understand Your Work Preferences

To find work that’s the best fit for you, you’ll need to understand your work preferences. These preferences will reflect your most important skills, interests, and values.


How does your job rate? Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

If you didn’t answer “yes” to all of the previous questions, this article can help you find ways to identify the type of workplace you want.

What do you need and want in a job? Some of the things may be crucial for you, while others may just be nice to have. If you have to decide between job options, keeping your values and preferences in mind will help you choose the job that suits you the best.

Think about the paid and unpaid work activities you’ve enjoyed. What was it about these activities that made them satisfying? Those activities can give you clues to your work preferences.

Another way to discover your work preferences is to think about your ideal work situation. If you could imagine your dream job, what would it be like?

How to identify your work preferences

  1. Consider the type of working environment you want. Things to think about include:
    • Time commitment: Are you looking for part-time or full-time work? Are you available to work evenings and weekends? Only during the summer?
    • Location: Where does the job site need to be for you to get to it easily? Or would you prefer to work from home?
    • Job security: How important is it to have a job you know is secure for the long term?
    • Rate of pay and benefits: Is having a certain salary crucial? What kinds of benefits do you and your family need?
    • Size of the organization: Would you like to work for a large corporation? A small family-run business? Something in between?
    • Working alone or with others: Do you prefer to work by yourself or as part of a team?
    • Variety of the work: Do you feel most comfortable with familiar, routine tasks? Or do you get bored if a job is repetitive?
  2. Think about the skills you want to use or develop. Consider both your work-specific skills and the core skills you can transfer from other parts of your life. If you enjoy coaching community soccer, for example, it suggests that you may want to use your leadership and organizational skills in your work life.
  3. Decide what values and interests you want to express through your work. Be aware that some of your values and interests can be expressed in other ways, outside of work. For example, you can volunteer for a cause that’s important to you.
  4. Identify the opportunities you want. How important is it to learn new things on the job? Would you like a chance to be promoted within the organization?

You can complete the Preferred Working Conditions Quiz and Work Values Quiz to clarify your work preferences.

Find a good fit with an employer

Finding an employer that is a good fit for you is very important when you’re looking for a job to keep. By good fit, we mean an employer who:

  • Appreciates the skills you have to offer and helps you develop new skills
  • Shares your positive attitude about the job
  • Makes you feel comfortable enough to communicate with—especially about personal issues that may affect your job (e.g. children’s appointments, health problems, cultural issues)

How you feel about your work can have a dramatic impact on how you feel about other areas of your life. Because of this, determining what you want in a job is just as important as understanding what employers want in you as an employee. By understanding your own work preferences, you can focus your work search, job choices, and career plans on opportunities that offer you the greatest level of personal satisfaction.

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