Many employees are becoming more selective about job offers, thanks to labor shortages and the increase in hybrid work. If you are part of the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, or just considering your options, this may be an ideal time to find an employer who shares your values.
Cultural fit has been a standard part of career advice for generations because happiness at work usually means thinking about more than your salary. After all, you are more likely to feel fulfilled if you support your company’s mission and practices.
According to a report by Harvard Business Review, more than 9 out of 10 adults are willing to earn less money to do meaningful work. That same study also found that only 5% of employees believe their current job provides “the most meaningful work they could imagine having.”
How do you feel about your work? The trick to having a meaningful career is to figure out your priorities and use them to plot your career path. To begin, you need to identify your core values.
“Your self-confidence increases when you know you are living your life according to your highest values.” — Brian Tracy
How to Identify Your Core Values
Being authentic is the key to identifying your values. Core values vary significantly from one individual to another. If you value adventure, you might yearn for a chance to travel the world. However, someone else may want more time at home to devote to their children because their core value is family. Listen to your heart instead of trying to conform to external expectations.
When you have clarity about what you want, take these steps to discover (or affirm) your values.
- Make a list. If you search online for core values, you will find many lists to help you get started. Pick out the words and phrases that resonate with you.
- Create categories. On the other hand, you may feel overwhelmed by too many choices. Sort your priorities into similar groups to help organize the process.
- Review your experiences. Take some time to reflect on what energizes or drains you. Previous jobs or volunteer work might give you ideas for what you want out of life.
- Imagine your dream job. In the real world, any position has some trade-offs. However, visualizing can help you clarify your goals.
- Take some tests. Personality tests can be a helpful resource for understanding the type of work that best suits you. Take them online or work with a career coach who may give you more insights into interpreting the results.
Taking those steps will clarify your core values. And I would encourage you to Ask for feedback. Input from family, friends, and coworkers can be valuable. Listen with an open mind to discover issues you may be overlooking or areas where your choices seem misaligned with your stated goals.
Use the feedback to refine your list if needed. When your values list is complete, it’s time to apply the results to your job search.
“Success in life means living by your values.” — Russ Harris
How to Apply Your Values to Your Job Search
Choosing an employer who shares your values requires research and careful consideration. Thankfully, there is a wealth of public information available for most organizations.
- Read annual reports and news stories to learn about their leadership and community activities.
- Browse reviews on websites like Glassdoor to get insights from current and former employees.
And be sure to keep an open mind. Broaden your search, at least at the start. Big corporations hire PR firms to help them look socially responsible. But smaller organizations can have a positive impact, too. You might find promising opportunities anywhere.
“Careful now: even a financially rewarding, intellectually stimulating work environment isn’t the same as living your own values.” — Stan Slap
When your research is complete, try these three tips:
- Talk with others. Reach out to your network contacts and try to find referrals to anyone familiar with the companies that interest you. That way, you can ask pertinent questions and confirm your impressions.
- Follow social media. LinkedIn and other platforms let you see what companies say about themselves and the kind of image they want to maintain. It’s also great to look at how they engage with customers and other stakeholders on social media sites.
- Discuss the mission. Interviews are good opportunities to learn more about an organization’s mission. Inquire about its development and how it guides decision-making. For example, how is the mission communicated to different stakeholders, and how does it tie into performance evaluations?
Finding an employer who shares your values can take thought and some time. However, the results are worth it. When you feel like you belong at work, it makes your life less stressful and more enjoyable. And, I’m here to help.