Insights & Ideas

How to find a job that matches your values (and why that’s important)

If you’re looking for a new job, you don’t want any old position. You want a “good job.”

But what does that really mean?

In the past, the top attributes of a “good job” were a competitive salary, an impressive title, and a sweet office setup. Of course, those things are still nice to have. But, in today’s world, another consideration is rising to the top: Values fit.

Research shows:

  • 71% of professionals would take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission they believe in and shared values.1
  • 61% of job seekers choose employers based on values and beliefs.2
  • 59% of people who left jobs said the most compelling reason to leave was finding a better “values fit” (which was twice as many people who chose compensation or career advancement).2

Basically, if you’re going to spend 2000+ hours a year (give or take) doing a job, it’s important to be aligned with your employer’s values—especially around company goals, the kind of work you do, how people are expected to behave, and how decisions are made. The wrong fit leads to misery, but the right fit makes work meaningful and exciting. So, spend some time investing in yourself and your next career move, it will be worth it.

The ultimate question: How do I know if a job or company matches my values?

We’re so glad you asked. Here are the steps we’d recommend:

1. Identify your own values

To know if your goals are aligned with a prospective employer, the first step is identifying and prioritizing your workplace values. Most of us have vague ideas about our values, but it’s important to set aside some time to really think about what is most important to you.

To get started, ask yourself questions like:

  • How do your personal values impact your workplace values?
  • What did you like about your last position?
  • What did you dislike about your last position? What caused you to leave?
  • What would you have changed?
  • What motivates you or gets you excited about work?
  • What kind of relationships do you want to have at work?
  • How would you describe the perfect organization for you?
  • What organizations do you admire and why?

Need a little inspiration? Check out this work values match tool and this list of 83 workplace values. Once you have a list of values, rank them. What are your must-haves vs. nice-to-haves? What are your red flags?

2. Share your values with others

Don’t be shy. Once you know your values, make them known. Make them clear on your LinkedIn profile. Prepare to talk about them in interviews. Start seeking like-minded people and network with those people. The more you talk about your values, the more likely you are to find a role that fits the bill. (For extra points, get good at explaining why your values are important and how someone with your values benefits an organization.)

3. Do your research before you apply (or at least before you interview)

  • When you’re considering a specific role or company, put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and start sleuthing:
  • Read the job description carefully for value clues.
  • Check out the employer’s website to see if they list corporate values, purpose, or mission.
  • Look at the information the company publishes on its websites, social media, and blogs.
  • Call anyone you know who works at the organization and get first-hand intel.
  • Take a close look at what products/services the organization offers and who their customers are.
  • Investigate the company’s reputation on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed.
  • Do a Google search to learn about recent news and general info.

When that research is done, think about what you know about the company’s personality, behavior, and reputation. Do they seem to match your values? What questions do you have about the company’s values?

4. Interview the interviewer(s)

If you make it to the job interview stage, you’re interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing you. That means you have a golden opportunity to get your lingering values questions answered. You can start by asking the interviewers to describe organizational values, but it’s even more important to ask questions that force the interviewer to give examples. For example, you could ask things like:
What are your company values and how do they impact the team?

  • Flexibility is important to me. Can you tell me a time when you had to be flexible with an employee?
  • Tell me about your company culture.
  • What does an average day/week look like in this role? Will any of the duties need to be performed outside of normal work hours?
  • Describe the team. How big is it? Who is in it? How do they interact?
  • What are some new/exciting initiatives the company has put in place or next year’s initiatives?
  • If I succeed well in the role, what additional projects will I be allowed to participate in?
  • What is the trajectory for this role within the organization?
  • What does success look like in the role? How is it measured?
  • Do you feel the company values align with your own?
  • What is the average employee tenure in this department?

Pro tip: If you have more than one interview, ask your value questions to each person. Are the answers aligned or do different people have different ideas? After each interview, jot down what they say, so it’s easier to compare. If the answers are wildly different, ask for clarification.

5. Ask to talk to with your future colleagues

If the interviews go well, ask to speak with some of your future colleagues. (Yes, that is a normal thing to ask.) After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time working with these people—it’s good to get a feel on whether you’ll hit it off. Ask for informal conversations with colleagues on the team you’d work on and people from other departments.

The goal is to get to know the company from every angle. It might seem like an extra step, but it gives you the truest information about what you’re getting yourself into. (In fact, when I interviewed with Salo, I talked to five or six people in different areas of the company before I took the job.)

6. When you get a job offer, don’t forget those values

Hooray, you have a job offer. How exciting! But is it the right job for you? Don’t get swayed by a fancy title or a flashy compensation package. Taking a job is a big decision that will impact your life for a significant amount of time. So, go back to your values list.

Ask yourself: Is this job really what I want? Will I feel comfortable and energized in the workplace? Will I do work that I’m proud of? If no, the search continues. If yes, you just might have found yourself the always sought-after “good job.” We’re thrilled for you!

Want a flexible, rewarding career? Learn about consulting at Salo.

If you want to design a career on your terms, consulting at Salo might be the career you’re looking for. We match expert consultants in finance, accounting, and HR with organizations that need their help. Interested in learning more? Connect with us today.

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