How Your Interests, Skills, and Values Should Match Your Future Career

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

You’ve learned why self-assessment is so valuable before you choose a career — now it’s time to put it into action. 

Self-Assess Your Professional Assets

When trying to narrow down your desired career, it can be helpful to consider a few key factors about yourself, namely your interests, skills, and values. Here’s what to consider about each area.

 

Interests

Not every successful person works in a job that interests them, but matching your work to things you enjoy can help you stay motivated and engaged in your career — even after years in the same field. Your interests are the types of things you enjoy doing in school, work, and your free time. 

 

List your favorite extracurricular activities, the subjects you enjoy at school, and your preferred tasks at previous jobs you’ve had. Try to spot patterns in the list and break things out further if possible. For example, do all your favorite things occur outside? What specifically do you like or dislike about each activity? How long can you do each activity before you become bored? 

 

Though all of your interests may not directly translate to a conventional career, you can probably find ways to incorporate aspects of your favorite activities into a professional setting.

 

Skills

Your skills are what you are good at — in short, what you can do. They’re often broken up into two groups: hard skills and soft skills.

 

Hard skills are typically taught during your education or training and consist of factual knowledge or expertise that you’ve acquired. For example, mastering computer coding, learning a second language, or solving complex math problems are all hard skills. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more subjective and harder to measure. These can be the things you excel at seemingly naturally, such as working well on a team, communicating with others clearly, or managing your time efficiently. 

 

Reflect on the hard and soft skills you have and consider which resonant most strongly with you. Again, look for patterns and themes to connect your top skills. And don’t forget about your interests — while many people enjoy what they’re good at, it’s not always the case. If you’re really good at something you really hate, you might not consider it a viable career path. 

 

Values

You may not realize it now, but your personal values are a major aspect of your career satisfaction. While you can feign interest in certain topics and learn new skills, your values can be harder to compromise on. Think of your values as what motivates you and what you hope to achieve through your work. 

 

For example, is earning a high salary important to you? What about working in a respected leadership role? Perhaps you want a job that allows you to interact with people, or maybe it’s important that your career helps your community.      

 

Your values can also determine how you like to work. For example, do you thrive under a strict routine or a flexible schedule? Do you prefer tasks that challenge you mentally or physically? Does a bustling workplace excite you or do you need peace and quiet to feel your best? Clarifying your values now could help you land in a fulfilling career later.

Matching your traits with a career you love

Now that you have a good handle on what you enjoy and are good at, it’s time to put it to use. If you don’t already have a list of potential careers, start building one now. There are plenty of online resources to inspire you, including Federal Student Aid’s career search tool and O*NET Online. As you compile your list of jobs, make note of basics such as average salaries, required skills, and necessary education or training.

 

Then, take another look at your interests, skills, and values; match your top answers in each category with industries that appeal to you. For example, maybe one of your interests is spending time in nature and one of your values is to help your community. A job that allows you to work outside and improve your local environment might be a good fit, so consider work in that area — a national park ranger, landscape designer, or even city park management could all fit the bill.   


It’s unlikely that one single job will encompass all the different aspects of your personality, so try to keep an open mind when you go through this process. Consider a variety of industries, even ones that feel outside-the-box. By doing so, you should end up with a well-rounded list of careers that fit who you are.

Edmit's advice helps you to be better off after graduation.

Merit and financial aid estimates based on your student profile

Earnings estimates and financial scores for your college and major

Recommendations to save thousands on college

Help me save on college

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* Cost of College* paying for college financial aid FAFSA Student Loans* grants and scholarships federal student loans Saving for College* Salary and Career* college tuition 529 plan cost of attendance expected family contribution private student loans college financial planning financial aid award taxes career college savings plan room and board on-campus housing merit scholarships budgeting for college college expenses federal financial aid merit-based financial aid private universities public universities edmit hidden gems college costs edmit team parent PLUS loan college applications living expenses CSS profile education expenses financial need income application fees career fit choosing a major financial aid appeal off-campus housing choosing a college college majors loan forgiveness affordable college degree programs loan repayment repayment plans researching careers student loan assistance student loan debt work-study application fee waivers career exploration college search coronavirus edmit scholarship institutional aid net price private scholarships SAT career goals college visits in-state tuition prepaid tuition plans ACT budget free tuition international students internships need-based financial aid need-blind colleges qualified higher education expenses retirement savings school-based scholarships southern colleges standardized testing tuition discount tuition guarantee tuition payment plans 401k UGMA UTMA applying to college college financial health college ranking systems college spending college transfers credit score discretionary income distance learning education savings accounts fees financial literacy full ride scholarship gap year grants health insurance options investment ivy league schools liberal arts degree meal plans midwestern colleges need-aware colleges out-of-state tuition saving state aid tuition increases western colleges 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college credits college deposit college viability community college concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding dorms early decision educational expenses esports fee waivers financial wellness for-profit universities fraternities and sororities full tuition graduate school home equity loan income share agreements job applications line of credit lists medical expenses medical school military benefits net price calculators new england colleges non-profit universities online learning online tuition out-of-state students percent need met private college consultant remote learning self-assessment siblings small business state schools student bank accounts student organizations subsidized loans title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition insurance tuition reciprocity undocumented students unsubsidized loans work-based learning