When pursuing job opportunities, it’s always important to have a solid understanding of the type of company and culture where you can be most successful. Discerning the best opportunity for you is as important as the company hiring the right employee.
In order to see whether a companies culture, style, and values match your own, however, you have to know what your values are. Many, perhaps most people don’t know what they really are. They may say certain values and character traits are important to them, perhaps because they sound good or noble. However, they don’t necessarily represent how they actually live at all.
If you were asked… What ARE your values?
Are they REALLY your values?
Here are some thoughts on how to figure it out…
Do your actions reflect what you profess?
Most anyone you ask will tell you that one of their values is honesty and integrity. Yet those are character traits seriously deficient in many organizations.
Do you believe yourself to be an honest person… yet are you willing to fudge on some facts when trying to close a deal with a new client?
Do you believe you have integrity, but take pens and notepads home from the office?
Do you believe you value fairness, but don’t correct your boss when he assumes you accomplished something that was really done by a co-worker?
Ask yourself those and many other similar questions to determine if you’re really not living what you say you believe. Most of us slip at times, and deceive ourselves as much as we try to deceive others. Determine if you really do intend to live the values you say you live by, or if you only say them because they sound good!
Are your values still ‘in training’?
Perhaps the values you profess are what you hope actually characterize your life. However, you find that you fall down time and time again. None of us is perfect, however, daily improvement is critical. The key is to recognize the gap. Acknowledge when you fail, and begin again to be consistent between your words and your actions. Being consciously intentional about living as you want to be known will help you get closer to the ideal.
Who do you know that best exemplifies your values?
When you think of the values you want to live in your own life, think of others you know who you respect for most apparently exhibiting those values. Observe them and ask yourself what it is about how they go about their work and their life that helps you see those values in action. Learn from them and emulate them in a way that fits your personality and style. It’s not necessary or healthy to mimic someone else, however, you can certainly learn behaviors that exhibit the values you’d like to adopt.
Keep in mind… no one is perfect. Even the person you most respect will have flaws and shortcomings. They will falter from time to time and will disappoint you. Give them grace, and focus on the good over the bad.
You will likely fail if your values differ from the organization.
While you may be able to articulate honorable values in an interview process, and an organization may hire you based on what they like about what you said, you will fail if the values you actually live from day to day don’t reflect your words. If a company really does uphold a high standard of ethics, hard-work, and trust, and your daily work life doesn’t show the same character traits, the job is likely to be short-lived.
Similarly, if the company has a tendency to cut corners and say anything to get business while your life is marked by more honorable characteristics, you will likely not succeed in that environment either.
For your own benefit and for the employers… it’s critical to know yourself! Be brutally honest in your self-evaluation. You may not like what you find. You may decide to start a ‘values development program’. However, it benefits no one when you deceive yourself about who you are or deceive others.
Start where you are. Decide where you’d like to be. And chart a course to achieve that goal.
Knowing what your values REALLY are, and being able to articulate them well in your job search process will help you and a potential employer make a better match! Are your values REALLY your values? Figure it out and you’ll be more effective in all areas of your life.