We all want meaningful work. But finding that is much easier said than done. If you're considering new job opportunities, a good place to start is by finding a company that aligns with your values. Will you feel invested in the company's success? Will you fit in culturally? To find out whether a company might be a potential fit, here are five suggestions to go beyond the website marketing and recruiting promises. 

Know your own values.

Companies may offer up polished and persuasive mission statements and powerful corporate social responsibility projects. But unless those values line up with your own, you won’t be happy. Make a list of their own core values. With that starting point, you'll discover if the companies you want to work for are aligned with them.

Get help from professional societies.

This is an ideal place to get inside scoop from others. You'll have the opportunity to build relationships with people in these organizations, and when they hear of a job opening or know of a company that's hiring, they'll think of you. An added bonus: These societies are also a great way to get an informal — and honest — read on a company.

Tap into your alumni network.

Find alumni from your alma mater who currently work — or, better yet, have worked in the recent past — for the company you’re interested in. When you’re talking to people who have actually worked in the company, you can find out how they’re treated, and if the company’s mission lines up with the day-to-day reality.

Understand where your values and the real world conflict.

Just as important as knowing your values is understanding where there may be pragmatic concerns. Working as a director at a nonprofit is great, but an entry-level job might pay just $30,000. If you’re the primary breadwinner with children, how will you do that? Consider those issues early on so you can find a solution. There are many options when it comes to pursuing meaningful careers.

Trust your gut.

Sometimes, you can get all the information you need just from the way you’re treated in an interview. If your interviewer keeps you waiting for ages, is disorganized, or can’t answer your questions, it can be a sign that there are bigger problems lurking underneath. Interviews are the place for both companies and prospective employees to put their best foot forward. If a company treats you disrespectfully in the honeymoon stage, how will they treat you — and others — afterward?

The MBA program at St. Edward’s University builds highly sought-after skills in entrepreneurial thinking, social enterprise, innovation, global collaboration and business analytics — the areas business leaders need in today’s business world.

Erin Peterson is a freelance writer.

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