What do you want?

How to reflect on your current and previous experience, and think about what you want from your career

What do you need to know about yourself when making career decisions? Here are the factors we think are key - with tools to help you learn more.  


People want different things from their careers, and everyone defines ‘success’ in their own way.  You may be looking for a large salary and a senior role, or prioritise stability and security, or be seeking as much autonomy as possible.  Excitement and new challenges might be important to your job satisfaction - or the technical or intricate nature of your work. Reflecting on your values - what drives or motivates you - helps you to assess different career options and make decisions. 

Values are central to our motivation and also influence how satisfied we are in our work. If your values are well aligned to those of your work environment you are likely to feel a sense of pride in what you are doing. If, however, your values are at odds with your work environment and those people around you, you may become de-motivated. 

People with similar skills may, because of differing values, wish to use them for varying purposes. For example, you could put good social skills to use in advertising, teaching or banking  – a variety of career areas which satisfy different values.   

The following exercise will help you to recognise your values. 

Reflectors Toolkit - Values 


  • You will have certain basic needs that have to be satisfied and which will play a part in your decision making, e.g. a minimum level of financial reward, specific geographical location, a need for job security. 


  • Consider different aspects of your personality -  are you decisive, cautious, patient, competitive, methodical? Your temperament will influence your enjoyment of,  and your success in, different job areas.  

To learn more about reflecting and developing your self-awareness:  

(University of Edinburgh login required for these resources)

  • Use our collection of career assessments on topics such as Personality Insight, Motivation at Work or Temperament  

       Career Assessments 

  • Read these articles about developing self-awareness: 

        Developing Self-Awareness