Much is made of the Millennial generation’s drive to find purpose and meaning in their work. And while I don’t think that’s exclusive to a single generation, this post looks at how to find purpose and meaning in the context of finding a good job fit with an employer. (If you haven’t read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, it’s well worth doing so to get a sense of perspective.)
Finding purpose, in it’s most simplest form, is learning what the world needs from you. For many, this purpose is their driving motivation; their reason for being.
Companies also have a core purpose. Besides making money, it is their driving motivation and the reason they continue not just to exist, but to innovate and compete. But how do you know if your personal purpose is a match with a company’s stated purpose? How do you determine if your meaning and the company’s is well-aligned?
Perhaps even a more important question: When job searching, what do you look for in an employer’s purpose and meaning?
Who Gets Your Meaning?
The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others to succeed.
– Adam Grant
At a personal level, purpose is principally about being of service to others. Your will to succeed depends on how heartfelt and compelling the purpose. It can lie dormant within you and external factors or meaningful experiences light your fire.
For organizations, their purpose is often inspiring and clearly articulated. For example, to make the world more open and connected (Facebook), to remove the barrier to have to learn technology (Apple), good healthcare for all regardless of wealth (NHS), to help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty (Oxfam).
The Only Way is Ethics
If purpose is about the ‘why’, then ethics are about the ‘how’. They are the moral principles that guide the way everyone in the business conducts themselves and within the accepted or regulatory rules of business engagement.
The world’s most ethical companies promote ethical business standards and practices internally, enable managers and employees to make good choices, and shape future industry standards by introducing tomorrow’s best practices today.
Ethics play a part in your job and career choices, for example:
- If you believe in the rule of law, then you expect your employer to be lawful.
- Your views on zero-hours contracts may clash with the ethics of employers that use them.
- How a large retailer treats its suppliers may matter to you.
- An employer’s conduct reveals ethical behaviour (l’Oreal) or unethical behaviour (Volkswagen).
3 Actions to Help You Choose
Why does knowing an employer’s purpose and ethics matter when you are searching for a meaningful job and career? Why should you seek aligned meaning?
Because you will be:
- More at ease in a work culture that fits with your personal values and principles.
- More motivated if the purpose of your employer’s organisation inspires you.
- At your best more of the time if you believe your contribution is meaningful and that what you do matters in your role.
A job or career is more fulfilling if your purpose and meaning aligns with and contributes to that of the employer’s.
Here are three actions you can take to help in finding purpose and meaningwith the right employer for you:
- Do your research | To find out the stated purpose of employers that interest you. Why is it meaningful to you? Reflect it back through job applications and interviews. Also, be sure to show your understanding and why you believe in their purpose.
- Check out if they practice what they preach | Learn if they’re walking their talk about their ethics and values (for help with this, visit Glassdoor… it’s like TripAdvisor for employers).
- Explore your own purpose in life | To make a more informed judgement on what you want from an employer as you find purpose. To help you, here’s a bite-size, multi-media online course.
Put in the work. Deliberately find purpose and alignment of personal and company meaning. In the long run, your career will thank you for the effort!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at LearningToLeap.
About the Author: David Shindler helps you to be clearer, more confident, and purposeful so you take the right job and career actions for you. Career Coach, Blogger, Online Courses for young professionals, Books on developing your employability, internships, and attitudes for success.