Finding a job with a company that truly reflects your values

By Paolo Gallo, below, executive coach

Looking for a job is a job in itself: the search is a two-step approach. First phase: start with and within yourself.  Dick Bolles is the author of What colour is your parachute?, the reference manual for job search in the last 40 years. He says, “Most job hunters fail to find their dream job, not because they lack information about job market but because they lack information about themselves”. So, you need to start with yourself; you may want to reflect by thinking about these three powerful questions:

  • What do you stand for? This question will help you to find your real purpose, something that you are passionate about.  It will help you to gain a deep understanding of what motivates you and which cause is close to your heart. People are mainly missionaries – when you believe in a mission, a cause bigger than whatever role you may have – or mercenaries, people that are in a job for their own sake, their compensation, power and visibility. They can be incredibly good at what they do, but ultimately they are doing it for themselves. It is up to you to choose which camp you belong to.
  • What are you good at? You need to grasp the difference between passion (what you like doing) and talent (what you are good at doing). Your strengths are your talent multiplied by sweat, determination and hard work to master whatever profession you may have.
  • Which values are essential to you, not negotiable? For me, the most important values are autonomy, capacity to learn, integrity and trust. What are the values you live by in your life? They will need to be an integral part of your job and part of the DNA of the organization you aim to work for.

Once you have crystal clarity, here are some other considerations to ensure a laser-focus job search during the second phase:

  • How do the interviews take place? Are you treated with respect? Does the company provide factual information? Do they share also challenges or does everything looks amazing and perfect until you find out that it’s not?
  • What language do they speak? Does your potentially new manager speak a language of power, or trust, or mere effectiveness without any soul? Do you instinctively trust him/her? What is your inner voice telling you? Go for it or run for your life? Listen also to your gut instinct.
  • Who is hired or promoted and why? Can you get concrete examples?
  • What happened to the person who did the job before you? Were they fired, left for burnout, promoted to a more senior role? Try and find out.
  • What are the incentive systems? How are people motivated? How do you grow?
  • What are the numbers to pay attention to? Look for example at staff turnover. Too high – usually above 25% – means that company has problems in retaining people, too low – below 5%- means that there is little change, limited career opportunities. Try to find out why. Find out also how diverse the organization is.
  • What are the rules of the game, written or not? Try to observe people behavior, do some research, find out the company reputation, reach out (for example on LinkedIn) to people who are working there and ask their opinion.

This two-step approach works and is so worthwhile when you land in a role and organization aligned with your values, skills and potential. 

Paolo Gallo is an executive coach, keynote speaker and author of The Seven Games of Leadership: Navigating the Inner Journey of Leaders.