Friday, December 1, 2017

Career Guidance – How to Select Your Career – A Values Based Approach


Around 25 years ago, in the 1990s, I had written a number of articles on career guidance  in magazines/journals and given lectures to students on values based career selection, and subsequently posted these on my blog. 

This blog post is a revised, amalgamated and updated version of my CAREER GUIDANCE article first p

Now – I am updating my career guidance article to make it suitable for reading on the digital screen. 

If you want to see my power-point presentation on the topic YOUR VALUES AND YOUR CAREER – the link is given below (it will open in a new window). 

Dear Reader – I suggest that you please read my article first – before seeing the power-point presentation – as this will help you understand the presentation better. I have given the URL links below the article too  for your convenience. 


Power Point Presentation by VIKRAM KARVE 


Career Guidance Tips


One of the greatest misfortunes in life is to be good at something you dont like

You may be proficient in mathematics  but you may hate mathematics.

You may be competent HR or PR Manager possessing excellent communication skills and busy interacting with people every minute of the day  but in your heart you may actually love a life of solitude and contemplation. 

In order to be able to select the right career  you will have to reflect, analyse, and discover your inner self.

This will enable you to be able to clearly distinguish between:

1.  what you are good at doing (proficiency, competence, talent etc


2. what you enjoy doing (interests, values, passion etc)

What you love to do – that is your true metier – and that is what you actually want to do in your life. 

When I was in school  in the 1960 there was no concept of career counselling or vocational guidance.

All boys were herded into the Science Stream (unless you were very poor at mathematics).

All girls were considered suitable for Humanities (unless the girl put her foot down and insisted on studying science).

Then  as a boy  if you were in the science stream– and you did well in your studies  the options were Engineering or Medicine  and most of us – we continued being good at something we did not like. 

The girls mostly studied arts – while they waited to get married.

And much later in life – we discovered what we truly liked  and then  if we had time and resources  we pursued what we really wanted to do (our true métier) as hobbies.  

Fortunately  nowadays things are different. 

Young persons have plenty of choice and opportunity to choose what they want to do.

If you are on the verge of choosing your career, the first thing to do is to develop a concept of the person you would like to be – introspect and try to discover your life orientation 


If your want to enjoy your work take care to ensure that your choice of career is in alignment with your LIFE ORIENTATION.

Your “Life Orientation comprises three factors:




If you choose a career that enables you achieve success facilitating optimal utilization of your best skills  doing the kinds of work that relate to your favourite interests – and in consonance with your core values  you will derive total work-life balance and job satisfaction.  

In order to find out your orientation in life – you have to know yourself.

Go to some quiet place, sit down comfortably, close your eyes  and reflect on the aspects below to discover your skills, interests and values. 


As a first step to determining your Orientation in Life focus on the various skills you might have.

Introspect and list your SOFT SKILLS and HARD SKILLS. 

Soft Skills  pertain to the intuitive, creative and emotional right side of the brain.

Hard Skills  emanate from the analytic and logical left side of the brain.

Are you a Soft Skills person – or a Hard Skills person – or a hybrid blend of both...?

Which types of skills predominate...?

Think of your best skills.

Prioritize your skills  hard and soft  and make a list of all your skills in order of precedence.  


Now list all your interests and put them in order of your preference  just as you did with skills.

How do you discover your interests...?

Assume that you have enough leisure and plenty of time – and lots of resources. 

What would you do...?

How you like to spend your leisure gives a clue to your interests.

Will the career you choose enable you to satisfy your interests at the workplace...? 

O– will you have enough leisure and resources to pursue them on your own in your spare time...?


Now  focus on discovering your values.

Values are core beliefs which guide and motivate attitudes and behaviour.

When you value something you want it (or want it to happen).  

Values are relatively permanent desires.

Values are our subjective reactions to the world around us.

Values are answers to the “why” question. 

You keep on asking yourself the “why” question until you reach a point where you no longer want something for the sake of something else. 

At this point  you have arrived at a value.

Let’s take an example.

I was once teaching a Post Graduate Professional Programme at a premier university, a centre of excellence.

I asked a student: 

“Why are you doing this academic course?”  

“To gain qualifications...” he answered.  

“Why do you want to gain qualifications?”  

“To succeed in my career.”  

“Why do you want to succeed in your career?”  

“To reach the top.”  

“Why do you want to reach the top?”  

“To get power.”  

“Why do want do you want power?”  

“To control people...” he answered.  

“Why do you want to control people?”  

“I want to control people.”  


“I like to control people.”  


“Just for the sake of it – I like controlling people...” he said  and repeated “why” questions elicited similar responses related to control

Control for the sake of control – that’s when you discover your value.

I realized that control was one of his cardinal values – and maybe  he was a future megalomaniac in the making...!!! 

The same line of “why” questioning of persons undergoing higher education may reveal each person’s cardinal values – like knowledgemoneystatusstandard of livingquality of lifeambition,achievementgrowthreputationexcellencefame etc

Your personal list of values may include values like honesty, integrity, loyalty, prestige, happiness, friendship, family life, achievement, independence, education, power, money, independence, freedom and so on.

Now – prioritize your values in order of importance – to discover your CORE VALUES  your most important cardinal values.

Remember  there cannot be any “partial” values

For example  you cannot be 50% honest (half-honest) – either you are honest – or you are not honest...!!!

Your “Values are possibly the most important thing to consider when you are choosing a career, an occupation or workplace. 

And yes – there should be harmony between your personal values and organisational values/corporate culture 

Conflict in values is difficult to resolve. 

That is because  you can compromise your values  but you cannot change your values.  

If you do not take your values into account when selecting your career  there is a good chance you will dislike your work – and therefore – you will not enjoy your work.


Introspect over your skills, interests and values.

If you have conscientiously created and prioritized your lists  you have learned something about yourself – and ascertained your orientation in life.  

Whilst considering and selecting a career – you must thoroughly evaluate as to what degree the career-attributes are compatible with your orientation in life. 

Yes – compatibility between your job attributes and your orientation in life is a must for a happy career.

Let us see some examples:


Suppose your priority SKILLS include hard skills like mathematical and analytical ability  and soft skills like leadership and communication skills. 

Your INTERESTS include travel, adventure, photography and good food. 

And suppose – your most important VALUES are family life, prestige and achievement.

Now  let us consider various career options.

Consider a career as a Deck Officer in the Merchant Navy.

Your SKILLS and INTERESTS seem to be ideally suited – but there is mismatch  a conflict between the demands of the career in the Merchant Navy and your most cherished CORE VALUE – “Family Life” 

Perhaps  if your most important values were money, independence and prestige, the overall harmony and compatibility of your values, skills and interests with the career-attributes would have made Merchant Navy an ideal career option for you.


Now  let us say that you discover that your three most predominant values are money, independence and prestige.
Will a Military Career as an Army Officer suit you?

Well  you will certainly enjoy much Prestige as an Army Officer.

But  as far as Money is concerned  the pay package in the Army is quite modest.

Regimentation is the basic attribute of military life.

Since an Army Officer has to live a disciplined and regimented life – you may not be able to enjoy the same amount of Freedom that you will get in the civilian world.


In practical life – you may not be always able to avoid VALUE versus CAREER conflict in all cases.

But – being aware of this fact will help you come to terms with realities and mitigate the conflict – and also contemplate a career-shift in consonance with your value orientation  whenever feasible.  

Your VALUES are the most important and critical aspect of your career orientation – because Values are permanent in nature and difficult to change.

If you want to enhance certain SKILLS  you can work on it and acquire those skills.

Similarly  you can change your INTERESTS  or develop new interests – by devoting time and resources to those interests you would like to create, acquire or strengthen. 

SKILLS can be learned  INTERESTS can be developed  but VALUES are intrinsic 

It is very difficult to change your core values.

You may compromise your values  but you cannot change your values 


Before you choose your career  introspect and ascertain the compatibility, congruence and harmony between the career and your orientation in life (comprising your skills, interests and values).  

Do not make a hasty decision  or you may find yourself on the wrong road – and then  it may be too late to turn back.

Devoid of intrinsic motivation to pursue a career which is not in harmony with your orientation in life  but caught up in the need to gain parental affectionmaterialistic rewardsextrinsic recognitionpeer pressure and societal acceptance  young people often enter careers that may not offer them true inner happiness and fulfillment that evolves from harmonious work-life balance. 

Thus  though they may appear outwardly successful  inwardly  they lament over the reality of inner dissonance owing to work-life imbalance.

Let your inner conscience be your guide – and resist temptation and undue pressures from elders and peers.

Choosing a career which you love – and doing a job you enjoy – a career which is not in conflict with your values – a career that lets you realize your full individuality and creative potential – this will enable you to achieve a sense of fulfillment. 

Of course  you can interact with career counselors, you can talk to your parents, elders, peers and take their advice  but it is you yourself who must discover your own life orientation (skills, interests and values)  and while doing so  remember to distinguish between the “hard” aspects and the “soft” facets of career attributes.

Read some good books on career guidance.

My favorite is a book called What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles 

It is updated and published every year. 

It is a fascinating read and will help you discover your true métier. 

And why not take a few career tests?

You can either visit a career guidance counsellor or psychologist who will administer relevant tests to you. 

Or – you can try the online tests. 

My favorite one is The Princeton Review Career Quiz which is available online. 

It is a simple, fast, interesting and effective forced choice test which presents you with interesting career options.

I gave the test many years ago  and the results say that my interest color is Blue  which means I am a creative, humanistic, thoughtful, quiet type  and my usual style is Yellow  which means I tend to be orderly, cautious, loyal, systematic, methodical, solitary and organized – and I will thrive in a research-oriented, predictable, established, orderly environment.

As per the test results  my career choices include Writer, Librarian, Philosopher, Teacher, Professor, Researcher, College or School Administrator, Human Resources Manager, Guidance Counsellor  and yes  I am supposed to be an ideal Career Counsellor.

Am I one of these...? 

Well – I did do a few of the above jobs in my long career – like Teaching, Research, Human Resource (HR) Management etc – and right now – after retirement – I am a Writer – which – as per the test  – is the most suitable career for me.

I wish you all the best in selecting your career. 


After you have narrowed down the list of suitable careers in consonance with your life orientation  in the ultimate analysis  you have to distinguish between  what you are GOOD at doing – and – what you ENJOY doing.

Have fun, introspect and learn more about your own self.

Take your time, think, discuss, read, experiment, reflect – and discover your true métier in harmony with your interests and values and inner self.

Choose your career wisely. 


One of the greatest misfortunes in life is to be good at something you do not like. 

So while selecting your career  you must reflect, explore, analyse – and you must be able to clearly distinguish between:

what you are good at doing (proficiency, competence, talent etc)

as opposed to

what you enjoy doing (interests, values, passion etc)  what you love to do and what you want to do in life

If both match  and you are good at doing what you enjoy doing  you are indeed very lucky.

But  if you are not so lucky  then - while selecting your career: 

you must always try and give more weightage to what you enjoy doing over what you are good at doing

A career can be very satisfying if you have made the right choice.

Like the famous adage that goes: 

If you choose a job you love  then you will not have to work even a single day in your life 

On the other hand  a wrong decision can leave you regretting and wishing that you had trodden a different path.

Dear Reader: 

All the Best in discovering your true métier

I wish you a fulfilling career that suits your orientation life. 

May you always have a job you love.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. These career guidance tips are based on my personal experience. These tips do not constitute professional career guidance and are not a substitute for professional career counselling. Please do your own due diligence while selecting your career.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

More than 25 years ago, in the 1990s, I had written a number of articles on career guidance and given lectures to students on values based career selection, and subsequently posted these on my blog. This blog post is a revised and updated version of my article first p

Updated Article URLs:  and  and and etc

Updated Slide-Show URL:

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

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