Potential and Current Workers

Thinking About Work


What if I don’t know much about myself as a worker?

Not only might we want to have some information about the kinds of work that exist as we consider moving forward with a job, we also may want to take stock of how much we know about ourselves as workers.

Knowing yourself as a worker is also known as “worker identity.”  Worker identity can be looked at as having several parts: vocational values, preferences, and strengths. (Restrepo-Toro, et.al. 2015; Career Planning Curriculum)

Vocational Values:
Values guide our everyday decisions, and may be thought of as what is most important to us.  For example, if we value “family,” we may make decisions that center around keeping our families at the center of our lives. Vocational values are what we hold dear when we make decisions about work. These will be different for each person, depending on who you are.  For example, some people value variety while others value repetitiveness.  Some may value creativity, while others may value correctness.  Some may want autonomy, while others value teamwork.

Vocational Preferences:
Preferences are what we like, or prefer.  Preferences will guide our decision-making about work during Choosing Work, but it may be helpful to think about how much we know about our preferences even when Thinking about Work.  Preferences will vary person to person, and say something about you as a person and a worker.  For example, some people prefer working during daytime hours, others at night or odd hours that allow them to parent.  You may prefer working in an office environment, whereas others may enjoy working outside, or in a warehouse, or in a busy restaurant kitchen.

Vocational Strengths:
Strengths refer to what you are good at.  Vocational strengths are the work tasks or skills that you are good at.  Everyone’s vocational strengths differ.  Some people are good at physical tasks like lifting or standing, others are good at emotional tasks, such as understanding people and working as a team, while still others are good at intellectual tasks, such as making decisions or writing newsletters.

Consider the following if you are thinking about work.

  • What do you know about your own vocational values?  What do you know about your vocational preferences?
  • What do you know about your vocational strengths?  Do you feel you know enough about what is important to you, what you prefer, and what you can do to feel confident about moving forward with work?


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