Core Values: 84 Powerful Examples for the Workplace

By Hanne Keiling

February 15, 2022

Hanne was a senior content manager at Indeed.

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

Core values are personal ethics or ideals that guide you when making decisions, building relationships and solving problems. Identifying the values that are meaningful to you can help you develop and achieve personal and professional goals. It can also help you find jobs and companies that align with your ideals.

In this article, we discuss what core values are, provide 84 examples and explain how to identify your core values to advance your career.

What are core values?

Core values are a set of fundamental beliefs, ideals or practices that inform how you conduct your life, both personally and professionally. Businesses can also have and maintain core values. These can help an organization determine how to allocate resources, make important decisions and grow.

People and companies typically select a set of 10 or fewer core values to focus the ways they hire and maintain staff, approach daily business practices and conduct communications. These values can inform how people interact (humility, respect, honesty), the focus of a person’s or business’ work (ingenuity, creativity, data-driven) or the individual responsibilities one will hold (consistency, quality and reliability).

Identifying core values for yourself or within a company can provide structure and guidance, especially when dealing with a challenging decision or dispute. If one of your core values is honesty, for example, you would refer back to it when deciding whether or not a certain piece of information should be kept secret.

Related: SMART Goals: Definitions and Examples

5 Common core values 

Though choosing personal values is an individual decision, the following are five common core values:

1. Autonomy

As an employee, you may want to feel empowered to make decisions and take action. Many companies prefer to give you the flexibility to work at your own pace and method as long as you continue to meet performance goals.

2. Integrity

Valuing integrity in the workplace means that you strive to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking. You may also value honesty, transparency and a commitment to doing what’s best for your clients, customers, teammates and company.

3. Innovation

Challenge yourself to see what’s possible to better meet the needs of your team, customers and company. You are a work in progress, striving to improve and do better. Think of creative ways to solve tough problems. Take calculated risks. Finding new ways to solve a problem can help the company move forward.

4. Growth

Often, the growth of a company follows the professional growth of its employees. Valuing growth means that you have the drive to continuously improve both yourself and your company. Growth is based on mutual success. If you value growth in the workplace, you might want to look for a company that develops its staff and provides an environment that fosters personal and professional development.

5. Service

Being service-minded or customer-oriented means that you care about providing a quality experience to the clients you serve. This value can also extend to include supporting your community and your team. Valuing service means that you aim to provide a meaningful experience to the people you serve and support.

Related: Culture vs Values: What’s the Difference?

More examples of core values

Below is a list of core values you can use as inspiration when deciding on your own core values. This list might also help you when planning answers to interview questions or understanding the core values of others.

  • Acceptance

  • Accountability

  • Achievement

  • Adaptability

  • Adventure

  • Authenticity

  • Authority

  • Autonomy

  • Balance

  • Boldness

  • Bravery

  • Candor

  • Challenge

  • Clarity

  • Collaboration

  • Compassion

  • Communication

  • Community

  • Contribution

  • Creativity

  • Curiosity

  • Dependability

  • Determination

  • Diversity

  • Empathy

  • Enthusiasm

  • Equality

  • Family

  • Fairness

  • Flexibility

  • Friendship

  • Growth

  • Happiness

  • Hard work

  • Honesty

  • Humility

  • Humor

  • Impact

  • Improvement

  • Ingenuity

  • Innovation

  • Kindness

  • Knowledge

  • Leadership

  • Learning

  • Loyalty

  • Meaningful work

  • Optimism

  • Ownership

  • Participation

  • Patience

  • Peace

  • Persistence

  • Popularity

  • Power

  • Quality

  • Recognition

  • Relationships

  • Reliability

  • Reputation

  • Respect

  • Responsibility

  • Results

  • Security

  • Self-improvement

  • Simplicity

  • Spirituality

  • Stability

  • Success

  • Sustainability

  • Teamwork

  • Tenacity

  • Time management

  • Transparency

  • Trustworthiness

  • Wealth

  • Wisdom

  • Work ethic

  • Work-life balance

Related: Interview Question: “What Motivates You?”

How to identify your core values

If you’re unsure what your core values are, it might be helpful to take time to reflect on what’s important to you. Pay special attention to what motivates and drives your thoughts and decisions.

To get an idea of what your core values might be, consider your answers to the following questions:

  • What kind of culture do you want to work in?

  • What environment, settings or resources are necessary for you to do your best work?

  • What qualities do you feel make strong, healthy relationships?

  • What qualities do you admire most in your role models?

  • What motivates you?

  • What qualities do you wish to develop in yourself professionally and personally?

  • What are your future goals? What qualities will it take to achieve them?

Consider these and other questions that might inform which key values you want to prioritize in your job search, on the job and in your life. You can use them as a guideline to work toward your goals and advance your career.

Another practice you might try is printing out a physical copy of the list of core values above and sorting them into three categories: very important, important and not important. Then, try to select your top three to six “very important” values. Don’t think too critically during this activity—go with your instincts and see what comes up.

Related: Core Values of a Great Leader

Using your core values

Once you have defined a few values to prioritize, you can use them in a few different ways:

1. Include core values in your resume

If you are preparing your resume for submission, it might be helpful to list your core values as they relate to the open position. Especially if you are new to the job market or have little professional experience, identifying how you like to work might be helpful for employers. If you do have work experience, you might weave core values into examples of specific accomplishments from your prior roles.

2. Align your core values with companies when searching for jobs

Search for jobs at companies that align with the type of work you want to do, the culture you want to be in and the mission you want to work toward. Carefully review the job description for ways your core values would be relevant and helpful in the role. You could also do company research to ensure the company’s mission and core values align with your own.

3. Discuss your core values during interviews

Many interviewers will ask questions specifically about the qualities that are most important to yous. These questions might include, “What motivates you?”, “What type of employee are you?” or “Why did you choose to apply here?” You can use your core values to answer these questions and to provide context for your most important accomplishments. For example, if you helped your previous company increase productivity by 15%, you can explain how you value responsibility, time management and teamwork.

4. Use core values in the workplace

If you’ve gotten a job or have been in a career for several years, you can use your core values to continue advancing in your role. Clearly defining your goals can help you make important decisions about your career, such as which industry you want to work in or the types of short- and long-term goals you should set.

Read more: 15 Professional Values for a Successful Career

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