How to Assess a Potential Employer’s Values 


Finding an employer that shares your values might seem like one of those pie-in-the-sky, gee-wouldn’t-it-be-nice ideas, but employer values can have a big impact on your job satisfaction.  

For example, if you’re a woman looking to advance, you likely want to find a company that embraces inclusion and pays equity.   

Finding potential employers that have desirable values begins with identifying your own values and what you currently would like from your career. Your current values and priorities will likely depend on your career stage. For example, early-stage professionals often want the chance to earn higher pay and grow as a professional, while experienced professionals are more likely to want working conditions that help them thrive. 

When looking to identify your own values, try to recall the more pivotal moments in your career, especially moments related to promotions or the decision to find a new job. For example, an underqualified new manager that created a toxic atmosphere could have pushed you to find a new job. Reducing your list to just a few desired values makes it easier to spot these values in potential employers. 

How Do You Assess a Potential Employer’s Values?

Do Your Research 

Company websites usually list stated values, but it’s important to question if the company is actually following through on these proclamations.  

A better use of your time is looking at employer reviews on sites like Glassdoor. While many people go on these sites to vent their frustrations, they provide an important counterweight to official statements on company values.  

If you have any former or current employees in your network, ask them about working conditions and the company’s actual values that may relate to your own. For instance, if you’re looking for advancement opportunities, ask network connections about employee recognition and how people tend to get promotions. When talking to former or current employees, approach them with curiosity, not pre-judgment. You are trying to get to the truth, not confirm any preexisted ideas about the company. 

Also, look at the press coverage the organization has received. Has the company been involved in labor disputes or legal action? Has the company won awards or been recognized for its work in the community? 

Finally, review the posting for the open position. Ideally, the tone and content of the posting should speak to your sensibilities. For example, if you like a highly professional environment, the job posting should read very professional. 

Pay Attention and Ask Open-Ended Questions 

Throughout all your interactions with a potential employer, including interviews, pay attention to anything related to your desired values. Look for consistency to confirm any of your suspicions. 

Also, ask open-ended questions based on your desired values. For example, if you’re seeking advancement opportunities, you could ask about how people in the role have earned a promotion. Pay attention to see if promotions appear to be frequent and merit-based. 

Open-ended questions don’t give your interviewer that chance to give a simple yes or no answer. They call for detailed answers that can give you a window into the company’s true values and if they align with your desired values in a company. 

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