The Value Proposition


After recently attending an executive coaching session in which our second-year full-time MBA students were asked to create a value chart in order of priority for family, work, community and self, the emphasis placed on "values" got me thinking.  While a large proportion of the current professional population has been affected in some way by the arduous job market, how important are values to job seekers?

At a MBA Career Services and Employers Alliance student-lead panel, full-time MBA students  from St. Thomas and the U of M cited various items they consider prior to accepting a job offer.  Of those, professional advancement, opportunity to learn and be challenged as well as sharing the same values rated much higher than a competitive salary. There are a few things any job seeker should think about before accepting a position (or even applying for one).

During our executive coaching session, we asked students to complete the chart below by placing a percent of importance for each of the four categories, totaling 100%.


Most could attest that what is perceived as important and the actual importance it holds, is more often than not very different.  If those two values are at opposite spectrums, there will most likely be strife in everyday life.  To find professional happiness, the values of an organization and the employee must be similar.  Finding these values may not be as easy as a simple company search.  Most organizations post their values and mission statement directly on their website for public access, but there is often some disconnect between what is written and what is displayed at the employee level.

There are a few things to keep in mind when matching a company’s values to your own.

Mission Statements

Look for where importance is placed, whether it is the client, employee or profit.  Measurement of success is key.  Success that is measured solely on financials and profit may not be the best fit for someone looking for a socially dedicated organization.

What to look for: Mission statements dedicated to providing exceptional interaction with clients and employees, and dedication to serving the community are great clues for those interested in working for a socially responsible organization. Take for example, Target.

“Our mission is to make Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experiences by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less brand promise.” (

Goals and Disclosure

Companies that strive to project themselves in a positive light are common; companies that strive for continuous improvement in adverse times are exemplary.  While negative press can ruin an organization’s public image, companies that are transparent with their employees and clients, set a standard of honesty and forthcoming that can outweigh any slanderous article.Caribou Coffee, for example, provides all financial annual reports to the general public.

Communication Style

Reviewing the methods companies use for communication is a direct line into what communication will be like working there.  Social media, websites and advertising are all great clues. In addition how a company socializes with the greater community is revealing.  Companies that respond quickly to inquiries, are active in their industry, share their knowledge and are respectful of an applicant’s time during the hiring process will likely have a strong and effective communication style.

To review interviewing techniques and other insight into companies check out

Management Style

Company websites and literature can be great resources, but word of mouth directly from current and former employees will likely be your best resource.  Finding a great place to work takes time and effort, but the perfect fit can lead to a fulfilling career.  In regards to deciphering management style, Clare Whitmell, of The Guardian, says

“Assess how you'll be able to make a contribution, and whether initiatives and bottom-up thinking are valued. At the interview, ask how the company sets sustainability goals and measures progress, and whether it's linked to compensation. What does the company offer in benefits and opportunities for promotion and growth, or investment through training and development? Examine staff turnover rates. (Useful information on hiring patterns and career paths is included in LinkedIn company profiles.)”

Get started on your perfect fit by reviewing a complete list of Fortune 500 Company mission statements.

In looking for a post-MBA career, students cited professional advancement, opportunity to learn and be challenged as well as sharing the same values rated much higher than a competitive salary. How do you find a company that shares your values?