top of page


Begin With You: Identify Your Skills and Values

I presented a webinar for the National Council on Family Relations today, and I was asked what values and skills assessments I recommend. I am posting here in case you are also interested.

Before launching into a job search, I always recommend that you first take some time to consider who you are, what you value, and what skills and experience you can bring to the table. This will help you to 1) seek out the right types of opportunities based on your goals and 2) tell your story to future employers. While reflecting, I recommend doing the following:

1. Consider your values (honestly). I begin my undergraduate course on careers by having students complete two values sorts. One is focused on personal values, and the other is focused on professional values. I think it is important to consider both as personal and professional are interrelated. LOTS of options for these are available on the internet. There are both paper and electronic versions. Here are the versions that I have used with my students but I am not claiming that they are any better than others. The main point is that you can't highly value EVERYTHING so many of these tools will help you to focus and choose:

Professional Values Sort:


Personal Values Sort:


(Guess I can't choose.)

2. Think about your own personal goals and professional goals for your current life stage and for your future. Consider questions like:

  • Where do you want to live?

  • How much free time do you want?

  • How much flexible time do you want?

  • What type of standard of living can you be comfortable with?

  • Is it important to do work that you feel excited about or that you feel is meaningful or are you okay doing a job and engaging more in other areas of your life?

  • Do you want opportunities for advancement?

  • Is stability more important to you than a higher salary or vice versa?

3. Write down your goals. As I type, I still have a goal booklet that I created when I was in high school (20 years ago) after my cousin Gayle told me that people were more likely to achieve their goals if they wrote them down and read them often. This idea was further reinforced by my father, godmother, pastor, and teachers. I am happy to say that I have achieved many of the goals in my book or adapted them. In some cases, I have decided to drop goals, but they still helped me to focus on what was most important to me so writing them down still served a purpose. I have added to and edited my book throughout the years, and it has provided me with a vision (even if I couldn't always see the specific details at the time). Sometimes I have used my goal book. Other times I have used a simple goal list. Other times I have created a vision board that reflects my goals. Most recently, I have created a values board (which I sort of made up in terms of the method I used but which I am sure other people have also made up as well) that featured many different options for prioritizing my values in my life and work. This was quite freeing because I didn't feel like I had to be tied to one specific job to fulfill my goals and live out my values. Whatever method you use, be sure to re-read or revisit your goals often to keep you focused, to help you to identify goals you might have outgrown, and to add new goals.

4. Identify your skills (honestly). When seeking out jobs and other opportunities, it is important to be able to articulate what skills you have to offer AND to be able to provide examples of how you have used those skills through your previous experience (paid or unpaid experience). Completing a skills assessment can be a useful step to help you identify what you are good at so that you can be prepared to connect those skills to the jobs you want.

I LOVE this one from the Community College of Vermont because it includes a broad range of skills. I use it in my own university course on careers. Currently, it is available at this link:

My apologies if you are reading this at a later date and some of these links are unavailable. Other options are also readily available on the internet. Feel free to contact me for my current recommendations.

Bonus: If you know you want to work with families but you are not sure how, it might help you to read more about the Domains of Family Practice at NCFR's website:

The complementary self-reflection exercise will help you identify which level of service--family therapy, family case management, or family life education--might fit you best. It can be found at the NCFR Resource Library or at this direct link from Purdue University:

Remember, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers, and these assessments will only be helpful if you are honest with yourself while completing them.


bottom of page