10 Types of Core Values (Plus Ways To Identify Your Own)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 June 2022 | Published 29 September 2021

Updated 16 June 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Core values are the foundational beliefs held by an individual or an organisation. They are often the guiding perspective that forms how we (or a company's employees) behave around others. A company forms its mission statement from its ethics and values and uses that statement to ensure everything is on-brand, from new product launches to improved services. In this article, we discuss how core beliefs can help you nurture your career goals and aspirations and find a company that aligns with your own beliefs.

Related: What Is a Career Plan?

What are core values?

Core values are a set of principles that can help guide your attitudes, behaviours and decisions throughout life. Your experiences, culture and background can also determine which values and ethics you consider important. You may have your own important principles, such as honesty or integrity, that you practise daily. Consider which values are necessary for your overall progression in life and work to align with others like you.

When pursuing an open position, try researching the company's mission statement, work culture and business goals to get a better understanding of the organisation's values. This can show you how a manager's interaction with staff and communication with customers can affect their overall brand culture. A company with honesty and transparency as a core value may also have ethical business practices.

Related: Creating a Healthy Corporate Culture

10 types of core values

Since core principles can differ, understanding the different types can help you progress in your personal and work life. Here are some common values to review to know which you possess or that align with your company's core mission:

1. Achievement

Achievement is a core value that you base on success, determination and reaching a goal. You may find motivation in your own personal success and accomplish it by showing competence in an area. For example, if you strive to become an employee of the month or to have the highest sales figures in your team, achievement is probably one of your core principles.

Related: Values-Based Interview Questions and Sample Answers

2. Benevolence

This core value emphasises support within a group, so you may work with others to promote and enhance the welfare of your community or immediate environment. You may value being forgiving, loyal and supportive to those around you. A great example of benevolence would be mental health days at the office, where the company prioritises employees looking after themselves.

3. Conformity

Conformity is the ability to prioritise others above yourself in some circumstances. Having this core value may help you consider the group when creating goals, rather than focusing on your own personal gains. For example, if you're working on a group project, you may assist a colleague with their workload rather than focusing on your own if you know it helps the success of the overall project. This involves being primarily concerned with collective priorities, rather than individual ones.

Related: What are personal values? With definition and exercises

4. Service

Embracing service as a value means concerning yourself with how you can help others. In customer service or similar role, this means ensuring that customers and clients feel genuinely heard and that their needs are adequately met. This also extends to how you interact with colleagues at work, where you can be a source of consistent support. A core aspect of service is providing those around you with meaningful experiences and a feeling of being supported.

5. Self-sufficiency

Self-sufficiency is a core value that underpins many businesses, and relates to the pursuit of wealth, resources and control. When you use it as a key motivator, self-sufficiency can combine with other motivations to encourage an incredibly effective and efficient way of working. It often depends on compassion and responsibility for others to be truly effective, as this is a collective value in the professional sense.

6. Security

Putting an emphasis on security as a core value shows a desire for stability and harmony in your life, business and society at large. At work, this value can help you understand and appreciate strict compliance codes and policy measures. For example, if you work in construction, you may benefit in a role where you have to understand building regulations.

7. Growth

Growth is a value that reinforces itself the more you embrace it, and this extends beyond your own personal growth. A company or organisation that values growth encourages all of its members to grow and progress, which is beneficial for the business as a whole. In a professional environment, growth encourages mutual success. It allows people to make use of their various individual talents to pursue collective goals.

Related: Sustainable growth rate: plus benefits and challenges

8. Self-direction

Being able to forge your own path in life is a defining core value known as self-direction. If you embody self-direction, you probably want to be your own boss and make your own decisions. This is the same feeling that makes entrepreneurs and businesses do things on their terms. As a core value, self-direction is a way to express freedom, originality and independence. An example of self-direction would be tech entrepreneurs using their expertise to launch startup companies.

9. Tradition

Tradition is a core value that shows you have a respect for established practices. It's a deep reverence for the customs and ideas that have come before them. For businesses, this might mean sticking to a well-established and effective approach to working. You may have a tradition as a core value that reflects your cultural heritage, religious ties or a respect for previous generations. For example, working for a family-run business, where the same family has owned the business for generations, can appeal to traditionalist core values.

10. Universalism

Universalism is the core value of social justice, giving individuals a voice and aiming for equality in all aspects of society. From protecting the environment to ending violence, universalism is a core value that looks to create a better world for everyone. This can include ensuring a company is acting ethically or, for an individual, how they can help others. For example, you may want to work for a company which has vowed to offset its carbon emissions, or a company that gives its employees volunteering days throughout the year.

Finding your own principles

Understanding your own principles may require identification of what your values are. This can be a reflective process that takes some time, so it's important to be receptive to your own thoughts and feelings to help assess what your own ethics are. There are a few approaches for accurately identifying what ethical guidelines align with your worldview. To help you get started, try answering the following questions:

  • What kind of environment do you find most comfortable while working?

  • What gets you up in the morning?

  • Where do you derive joy from in your life?

  • Who are your role models and why do you look up to them?

  • What are your future aspirations?

  • What skills do you need to further enhance your career?

  • What's currently holding you back in your life?

  • What's the best thing about our society? Why do you think this?

Your responses may help to identify your own principles. This can also help you find out what's important to your personal and working life, and guide your career and future prospects.

Related: What are the principles of business ethics? (With steps)

Ways to use your ethics

Identifying your ethics is only a part of the process. To use your principles, consider ways you can apply them in day-to-day life. Below, we've outlined a few ways that you can bring your principles into the working world to help you find a career that aligns with your views:

Highlight your morals in job applications

When applying for jobs, try listing your core morals in the application's body. This highlights your personality and point of view to potential recruiters, which can help them understand how you would fit with the company. Mentioning how much you value these programmes at work demonstrates your strong morals to the recruiter. Examples of your morals could take the form of socially conscious projects and charity initiatives.

Find companies that share your own values

If you're looking for a new job, try to find the perfect fit when applying for a company by matching up their values and yours. This helps you find the right company that aligns with your principles and makes it easier for recruiters to identify you as a suitable candidate. When looking at job descriptions and company websites, consider reviewing their mission statement, 'about' page and corporate social responsibility policy. For example, if you value tradition, many companies show their origins in interactive timelines in their 'about us' sections.

Bring your ethics to the workplace

Once you've found a position that aligns with your core principles, use this to progress your career in a way that's satisfying to you. Set out goals that are similar in fashion to the company and show your superiors that you're on-brand with the overall message of the business. Use your understanding of your own individual ethical principles as an advantage in your everyday working life. For example, if you value benevolence, you could set up fundraising events as part of the office's social life.

Related:

  • How to define ethical issues (tips for the workplace)

  • How To Uphold Business Ethics in the Workplace

  • What are personal values? With definition and exercises

  • Value creation: definition, importance and advantages

  • Job search guide: finding companies that value diversity & inclusion



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