Job Searching: Staying True to Your Values

This post was written by Michelle Dubow

Values. The core beliefs that drive every decision you make. This includes deciding on your next career opportunity – whether co-op, a full-time position post-graduation, graduate school, or another path on your vocational journey.

Many of us have been guilty of succumbing to the notion that a job offer is the ultimate goal (myself included). Here in Career Development, we support you through academic major choices, building your resume and cover letter, creating your professional brand through LinkedIn, searching and applying for jobs and continuing education, networking strategies, and mastering the interview that gets you an offer. But our role and your job DOES NOT STOP THERE!

When a company offers you a job, THEY have chosen YOU. To them, you fit into their organizational structure and would be an asset to the company. Congratulations! This is something to be very excited and proud about. But I encourage you to take a moment and think before jumping at the “yes.” Remember this: Job searching is a two-way street. THEY chose YOU and it is equally as important that YOU choose THEM as the professional organization to devote your time and energy into.

Why is this so important?

You spend the majority of your week working for or talking about the job that you hold. As an adult, it is often how you first identify around friends, family, and new connections. If you are working for an organization that makes you happy, your morale will be higher in all aspects of your life in and out of the office. I am a firm believer that you work to live, not the other way around. If you are not invested in the work that you are doing or the morals of the company you are employed by, it can easily drag you down and have you hopping from job to job before you expected to transition. Evaluating the company as a match before you accept the offer can help you achieve fulfillment in the long term – even if that means taking the risk to wait for a better offer.

How can you decide if it’s a professional match?

Take a hard look back at your values – we can help you with this through some self-assessment if you are having trouble realizing what is of utmost importance in this decision-making process. To start, you can ask yourself where you stand on:

  • Work conditions (change vs. stability in your position, autonomy vs. teamwork, flexibility vs. structure)
  • Purpose (ethical standpoint, helping others, role in society, importance of political/global issues such as diversity & inclusion, sustainability, etc.)
  • Lifestyle (work-life balance, friendship in the workplace, family-friendliness, importance of health and wellness)

Once you identify where you stand, you can see if the company aligns with your greatest values.

Where can you find a company’s values?

Uncovering this information starts when you begin researching a company before you apply, continues through the interview process, and is presented upon receiving your offer. A company’s website often shares its mission and values on its “About Us” section. You can also gain some great information by conducting informational interviews with employees at your company of interest that fall in your network – for example, Northeastern alumni who are or have been employed by this organization. If you are still unsure of the company values, you can incorporate a question about this at the conclusion of your formal interview.

Now that you understand yourself and the company a bit more, you are in a place to make an informed decision. I hope YOU are empowered to choose THEM. Job searching is a two-way street. Look both ways and you will be much happier making it to the other side.

Michelle DuBow is a Northeastern alum excited to be giving back to her fellow Huskies as a Career Advisor at NU. She has a passion for empowering students from academic major decisions through the job search, with great interest in multicultural counseling. Outside of work, she loves the performing arts and is always searching for a new adventure in her favorite city of Boston. Tweet her about this article at @CareerCoachNU

Pre-Interview Work

Applied to job(s)? Check. Phone call for an interview? Check. Interview? Not yet.

Pre-interview prepping is crucial and can make you a standout applicant in the pool. This can seem tedious and you may not think you have time for it with everything else already on your plate. However, it shows the interviewers that you are educated about the company, what they do and stand for, and what’s to come.

Where to start: the “About Us” section. This is where I’ll first get an idea about the company, their mission, and leadership. You can learn a lot about a company from these few paragraphs. This is also good to look at before even applying to decide if you might even be a good fit for the company. For me, if I don’t stand with the company values, I might find it hard to see myself working there.

Next up: research. For whatever type of job you’re looking for, whether it be management, research, clinical work, or design, look at what the company is currently doing. As someone looking for bio-based research, I’ll do this by reading recent publications by the particular research team. It’ll show the employer that you know what they are focusing on, what they found, and it’s a good point to ask questions about the research. Asking questions is always a difficult thing to do, but this at least gives you content to ask about.

These two points of “work” before the interview will make you more prepared going into the conversation. You’ll learn about the company and the kind of work you might be a part of, while showing the interviewers your interest in the work.

Waiting Room Do’s and Don’t’s

So imagine this: you are at a job interview, about 5-10 minutes early and are now in the interview waiting room, waiting for your interviewer to come down to meet you. This time waiting can actually affect your interview, so what you do (and don’t do) might have an impact on how your professionalism appears to the interviewer.

interviewing, waiting room, interview waiting room

Do: Look over your resume. I remember being told in my co-op class to bring multiple copies of my resume in a fancy portfolio to interviews to provide interviewers with. Since your resume is most likely the only piece of paper they’ll have of yours, you better know what your own resume says! Hopefully you’ve reviewed it before, but a quick read over in the waiting area shows whoever might be watching you that you are committed to this interview.

Do: Have good posture. This carries over into the interview as well, but sitting up straight is important. The way you are sitting may be the first time your interviewer sees you and this also may impact how your reflection of professionalism. It’s not too long of a time frame, so straighten that back a bit!

Don’t: Play on your phone. I feel as if this varies. I’m the kind of person who says its a no, but we’re all entitled to our own opinion. Being on your phone can show that you are preoccupied with something else, such as emails, text messages, your social media, or myabe the latest level of Candy Crush. Tuck that phone away (on silent!) in your bag or pocket when you walk into the waiting area. You’ll look ten times more professional and can use the time to focus on the interview, not on other aspects of your life. (I promise they’ll still be there when you’re finished with interviewing.)

Photo courtesy of ASDA.