Know Your Values Before You Start Your Job Search, with Ursala Garbrecht

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When job hunting, it’s easy to think more about your skillset and qualifications than whether or not the job suits your needs. Find Your Dream Job guest Ursala Garbrecht is here to share why you need to consider what you find fulfilling and enjoy doing at work before applying. Ursula says gaining clarity on the type of career you want can help you narrow down which jobs to apply to. It’s hard to be productive if your needs aren’t getting met, so take the time to drill down into your values, wants, and needs, and you’ll be happier in whatever position you take. 

About Our Guest:

Ursala Garbrecht is the founder of Resume Horse.

Resources in This Episode:

  • Want to get serious about your job-hunting game? Level up your resume, interview skills, and LinkedIn profile with Ursala’s help. Learn more by visiting her website at
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume . TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 411:

Know Your Values Before You Start Your Job Search, with Ursala Garbrecht

Airdate: August 9, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

Go to

It’s time to change jobs.

But before you apply anywhere, says today’s guest, you need to look within yourself.

Ursala Garbrecht is here to talk about why you need to know your values before you start your job search.

She’s the founder of Resume Horse.

Her company helps you write your resume from scratch, prepare for a big interview, and optimize your LinkedIn profile.

She joins us from Challis, Idaho.

Well, Ursala, here’s where I want to start. Why is it important to know your values before you start a job search?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, that’s a great question, Mac. So there’s really three components that I want to point out of why it’s important to know your values when you start your job search. So the first thing is you shift from focusing on just what they want to also what you want.

So I think people, when they’re thinking about a job search, and they want to change, it’s like, do they meet the qualifications on each job? Are they just like looking at different jobs and wondering if they could do it?

And to be able to switch into what do I need? What are the things that make me feel happy at work? What are the things that make me feel fulfilled? Or where I really enjoy doing it?

You focus more on what you want in your job search, and this can be a really empowering perspective. It helps people build confidence, and it can switch your mindset from being really overwhelmed about all of the opportunities out there to really being curious about who are those employers who can meet the needs that I have right now.

And then the third thing is just avoiding wasting time and energy, so you don’t end up on rabbit holes that are potentially types of positions or types of employers that are not gonna be a good fit for you. You can cross those off and move on to really focusing on doing research with organizations that have potential, looking at reviews of those companies on GlassDoor, and preparing questions for informational interviews or a job interview that can help you get information to see if they’re aligned with your values. So it can really just streamline your job search a lot more easily.

Mac Prichard:

One of the throughlines that I see running through all three of those points is clarity, and as you know, because you work with so many candidates, Ursala, people struggle with this. Getting clear about what they want. Talk more about how understanding your personal values can get you clarity so you know what exactly you want to do next when you look for work.

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, that’s great. So being able to get clarity is, I think, a big part of this is that, sometimes, our values can change over time. It’s like when people start a family. Maybe they want more flexibility or work-life balance or somebody who’s really landed in a career path that they enjoy. They want those opportunities for advancement and growth. And so, those things are gonna change throughout our lives and our life in work.

And so, being able to take the time to do some reflection about if you’re like, okay, maybe this is a time for change, kind of feeling that call. Just taking some inventory so you get clear on, hey, what are the parts about my work that I enjoy? And the parts that I feel like I’m really good at? Versus, what are those aspects that come up that cause you some dread or potentially create some stress for you? And being able to get those out on paper can be really helpful in evaluating. And sometimes, if something’s not working, then you need something that’s the opposite so it can point you toward what you want.

And then, I would say, one other aspect of gaining clarity around this is that every job is gonna have give and take. Everything has got its pros and its cons. So if you’re doing this exploration, you can create some sort of chart where you have, maybe it’s you want a remote job, or maybe the opposite. Maybe you want something where you enjoy the people that you’re with every day because you have the same values and you’re all passionate about the same mission.

Getting those out, and then when you look at your different potential opportunities, then you can kind of see how they measure up with the different values, and it can help support your decision-making process. Because if it is gonna be a pivot or something a little bit different than what you have been doing, there may be a little bit of space in there where you need to uplevel or refine some of the skills that you have to be able to compete really well for those positions.

So it can help you figure out clarity in what skills to build. It can create clarity in the types of companies that you’re drawn to, and it can just help you get clearer in who you are right now and what you need right now so that you can use that information to learn about potential employers and roles that might be a good fit.

Mac Prichard:

So values can help you get that clarity about what you want, the skills that you’re gonna need to that, and where you want to go. What’s your best advice, Ursala, about a process for identifying those values and then applying this to your job search? How do you help your clients do this in a practical way?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, so it’s, again, like I said, reflecting on what’s working and what isn’t working in the current role. It can also be helpful to look at your career overall and identify needs that were met or unmet. It could be that there are some themes that emerge from that. So there are some values that last over time or that maybe were being met earlier in your career that you want to go back to. And then being able to just translate that into qualities and helping people come up with questions so we can look at that when we’re looking at potential job postings and getting a sense of how different opportunities stack up based on what this person is wanting in their next role. So that can be a really helpful reflection.

And then, there’s that piece about the skills that are missing. Sometimes people are like, oh yeah, I’m really motivated to make more money, and then they realize they have a skill set that’s going in a particular direction. And then, oh well, but to really be able to compete there, there might be some significant skill up-leveling, and people are like, well, I actually need to change more quickly.

So you can evaluate some of the different factors with the different directions that you go in, and then ultimately helping people come up with a plan as far as who to talk to that can potentially help them get more information. What those questions are that they can ask? Coming up with a plan and goals around up-leveling their skills. As well as helping them with their resume to compete in that new direction.

Mac Prichard:

In your experience, Ursala, do most candidates consider personal values before they start their job search?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Like I said earlier, Mac, I would say, a lot of people are, I guess one of the challenges that come up is that people, they’re unhappy at work or maybe they have a bad day, and they’re like, I want something in a different industry, a different type of job, and they want it tomorrow. And so, I think that there are times when people are moving away from something.

But, I would say the people that I’m able to write the most powerful resumes for have gone through this process of recognizing what’s working for them in their career, what’s not working for them in their career, and the things that they want to move towards, and they’ve positioned themselves. Whether it’s talking to their boss to get opportunities to build a skill set in their current role or doing something outside of work to be able to up-level their skill and compete in a new direction.

So, I would say a large portion of people in that category where they’ve done this process on their own, and they’re ready to up-level. And then the people who are like, they just know they need something different, and they’re a little bit lost. So for those people, those are the ones that are more potentially pivoting what they’re doing at work, and those are the ones that need a little bit more hand-holding around taking a step back and actually evaluating what’s important for them right now, and what their options are.

Mac Prichard:

What stops people from considering their personal values before they start a job search?

Ursala Garbrecht:

That’s a great question, Mac. I’ve been really reflecting on this a lot, and I think that a lot of times, people have expectations from outside themselves. So it might be what their family wants for them, or what they think society is expecting them to be, where they’re expected to be in their career right now, or their peer groups. I think there are a lot of external factors that people have around, how are they going to be perceived around what they do, and I think that can get in the way of people being able to really go inside and be in touch with what’s important for them, and acknowledge the changes.

Especially after the last few years, the world has changed so much. That’s really affected people, and I think people maybe have done a little bit of that internal look. But it can be stressful out there. Things are getting more expensive and more competitive, and so a lot of times, people are just trying to keep up and make sure they can do what they need to do to adult in the world.

And so, it often feels like there’s an urgency to it. And so, I really encourage people to be proactive. Don’t wait until you’re burnt out, and you have a bad day at work every day during the week. If you start to see the signs, go ahead and start taking that inventory, planning, and preparing to give yourself the space and time for that reflection, exploration, and to see how things land.

So that’s one of the best things I think people can do is to be able to anticipate. Change is a natural part of life, and if you can anticipate that and give yourself the space for it, it’s going to make it a lot easier for you to do these deep dives on what’s important to you.

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is terrific, Ursala. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, Ursala Garbrecht will continue to share her advice on why you need to know your values before you start your job search. Stay with us.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Ursala Garbrecht.

She’s the founder of Resume Horse.

Her company helps you write your resume from scratch, prepare for a big interview, and optimize your LinkedIn profile.

She joins us from Challis, Idaho.

Now, Ursala, before the break, we were talking about why you need to know your values before you start your job search, and in the first segment, you laid out the three benefits of doing this. One point you made that intrigued me was about your resume. You say you work with clients who, when they are clear about their values, that leads to a more powerful resume. Tell us more about that. Why does knowing your values before you start a job search help you create a more powerful resume that’s gonna stand out with employers? What’s happening there?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, that’s a great question, Mac. So it used to be that resumes were a historical document of what you’ve done in your job, and they aren’t now. They are a marketing document. So I really think about a resume as a bridge between where you’ve been and where you want to go. So what you choose to focus on in a resume is going to be different if you take your career in one direction versus another.

The kind of points. The way you phrase your accomplishments might be different. The value that you emphasize. The type of skills and tasks that you’re emphasizing might be different depending on what those potential employers are, or who those potential employers are, and what they are wanting to see and hear from somebody that they want to bring on their team.

So if people know their values, and then they can kind of identify which employers are the ones that can meet those values, it’s a lot easier for people to take the time to really craft a resume that’s really targeted for them as the audience. And that can be really powerful and come across in a really compelling way for potential employers when those people are speaking directly to their needs and have honed their skills and are presenting them in a way that is particular to the needs of that company.

Mac Prichard:

And when you’re sitting in the employer’s seat, and you receive a resume like the one you just described that’s driven by your values but also informed by the awareness of the employer’s needs and the organization’s values, why does that stand out for an employer? Is that a common approach? Or something that only a few candidates do?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Well, it seems like there are a lot of, and I understand- so part of it is online applications. So employers get bombarded with applications from people, and I’ve talked to people. It’s like somebody, they hear about some layoffs happening, or they have a really bad day, or they’re just like fed up, and they’re like, I need something different, and they’ll just kind of start blasting out their resume, and they’re not always applying for places that are really a good fit for them or really what they want, where they want to take their career next.

So I think that creates a lot of noise for potential employers. Just because it’s so easy to just click the submit button on a generic resume. And so, yeah, with potential employers, if they see that people are speaking directly to the things that they need or the qualities that they want…

And here’s the thing, if somebody knows what their values are and they know which employers are going to be the best fit for that, they’re going to be more motivated to really showcase their best. And I really think that’s a great approach for people, rather than sending out a generic resume to fifty different companies, which may or may not be a good fit for you, which you may or may not be qualified even for the position.

It’s way better to get clear on what you want, who are those employers that can meet those needs, whether it’s through the culture, whatever aspects are important for you, and then you’re speaking directly to them. That’s gonna be very compelling for them. They’re like, wow, this is exactly the kind of thing that we’re looking for. And so, it stands out more.

Mac Prichard:

When you know your values before you start a job search, Ursala, when you are ready to apply, does knowing your values make it easier to target your resume for every application you do send out?

Ursala Garbrecht:

I think it does. Because there might be, I’m trying to think of a specific example. But if you’re just applying for a general account management position or you’re just applying for general customer service. You’re going for something very generic. That’s gonna be different than if you’re like, wow, this is for a company where I really believe in the product or service that they’re providing.

That’s gonna be a completely different approach. Like I said, you’re gonna have the momentum, that energy of, wow, this company would be a really great fit for me. It’s like you’re able to kind of sell yourself to them, but in a way that’s very genuine because it’s mutual. It’s like not only do they want what you have to offer, but you also know that they offer what you are wanting, as well. So there’s that both sides of the match, I think, is really powerful.

And it can also even, in general, whether it’s one specific opportunity, maybe you just know that that potential employer is a target company for you. And so you can do informational interviews to find out what does this hiring manager look for in candidates? And see if you can learn more about the culture. Or what kind of skills do they really prioritize when they’re hiring for this team?

You can ask those questions and then position yourself. So even if you don’t get the first position you see with that company, you will be more motivated to reach out and learn more about what would make you a compelling candidate and then focus your own professional development to be able to compete in an area like that.

Mac Prichard:

We’ve talked a lot in both segments today about the benefits of knowing your values before you start a job search. What challenges do you face as a job seeker if you haven’t done this work, if you haven’t identified your values before you send out that first resume?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, okay. So it’s easier for companies to trust people who know what they want, and so it could be that people end up going through multiple rounds of a job interview only to get to the end and realize that it’s actually nowhere near anything that’s actually what’s important to them for their day-to-day job. And so, it can be a waste of time.

I could see people applying for positions where it’s like, okay, if they actually are being real with themself, that’s not gonna be a good industry for them for whatever XYZ reason, or people get disconnected from what it is that they want, and need, and they end up creating the same situation where maybe they go get another job that is still not meeting their needs in the same way. So it can cause trouble ending up in a bunch of jobs that aren’t a good fit. It can cause trouble in just sort of being aimless or ending up just looking on job boards and wondering if you’re good enough for anything.

So there can be a lot, I think, both to your mental health, your time effectiveness, and also just the way you end up using your time and energy in the world if you’re disconnected from what it is that you value and need in your career.

Mac Prichard:

We’re talking about personal values and job search today. But what advice would you have, Ursala, for someone who isn’t doing a job search but they found that their values don’t align with the job they have right now?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, I think, like you said. Okay, I’m gonna start that one over, too. Yeah, if you realize that your jobs don’t align, I think that’s a sign that it’s time to take a step back and take inventory. It could be talking to mentors or close friends or people who know your strength and kind of hashing out maybe some things that have shifted.

I think it is, like I said, taking inventory of what is important to you right now and looking at what you enjoy, what you’re good at. But also what you dread and things that are stressful and really identifying what those are.

The other thing and this really depends on the dynamics of the organization, Mac. But one thing I’ve realized working with clients is that as they get clear on their values, if it’s a positive working environment, oftentimes, they can talk to their boss about what’s working and not working for them and be able to make a shift. Maybe it’s something that’s not oriented towards clients, or maybe it’s something that’s not as deadline-oriented. But they can just make a tweak or a change in their current role if that boss and that company is supportive for them.

Or if it’s something where it’s like, wow, I just feel like I’m bored at my work. I need another challenge. Identifying what those skill sets are that are going to support you in your career trajectory. Like, okay, what would be my next ideal role, and maybe the one after that? And asking your boss if there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer on projects where you can start to learn some of those skills.

So if people are at a positive organization, and they realize things aren’t working, a lot of times, there are opportunities for them to be able to work them out in their existing organization, and for some people, unfortunately, that’s not the case, and they have to plan for a bigger change.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Ursala. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Ursala Garbrecht:

Yeah, well, I’m gonna continue to write powerful resumes for people who’ve had some career success and are ready to go to the next level. And my growth edge is serving people who want something a little different in their career and helping them get clear on their career values and their job targets. So that they can be happier at work, so that job search exploration is really a foundation for writing powerful resumes, strong cover letters, and preparing for meaningful interviews.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. I know listeners can learn more about you and the services your company offers by visiting your website,, and that you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn and as always, if they do reach out to you there, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Ursala, given all of the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why you need to know your values before you start your job search?

Ursala Garbrecht:

I think the biggest thing I want people to remember is that these are the things that are important to you and that you love and care about right now, and being able to express those to some capacity at work, where we spend so much time, is what’s gonna help you feel happier. It’s hard to be productive if your needs aren’t getting met. So I just really encourage people to make sure they are taking that time to know what their values are, so they can be clear about what they need and take actions to get their needs better met.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Banji Alo.

He’s a career coach who helps professionals in data analytics.

Banji is also the author of Before Graduation Day and the founder of the Career Digest Weekly Newsletter.

Thanks to career sites like LinkedIn or Mac’s List, it’s never been easier to find open jobs.

So shouldn’t you apply to as many as possible?

After all, isn’t it all a numbers game?

Join us next Wednesday when Banji Alo and I talk about why quality over quantity matters in your job applications.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.