Choose Wisely: Consider an Employer's Community Involvement

If you've ever worked for a company and felt that your core values did not mesh with the company's values—or worse, realized that you could not even identify what those values were—you know how important it is to work for a company you can believe in.

Perhaps you have returned or plan to return to school at Colorado Technical University to learn new things because you realize you no longer have the sense of purpose and achievement that you crave.

One of the most important decisions you'll make, after the decision to further your education, is what industries and companies you will target in your job search.

In a tough economy, it is more important than ever to develop a coherent job search strategy. After the significant investment you've made in your job experience and education, you will be interviewing a prospective employer as much as they are interviewing you. Employees who believe their employer values its workforce and gives back to the community often report feeling a sense of pride and even reduced stress in their day-to-day routine.

One of the most significant ways to determine a company's core values is to take a look at its commitment to community service. Although donations and sponsorships remain important, today forward-thinking companies might not only sponsor a youth team but actively seek employee volunteers to coach or help prepare the ball field.

Giving back also benefits the giver.

Companies that get involved can enjoy a circle of return and greater stability in their communities as awareness builds about their commitment to giving back and leads to a positive image of their product and brand.

During your job hunt, gauge a company's commitment to volunteer service through research, research, research. Before the interview, learn as much as you can about the company, its values, and how that is expressed with its commitment to volunteering.

During the interview, when you are asked if you have questions, don't be afraid to speak up and ask for more information about the company's commitment to community volunteering. Ask about the range of volunteer opportunities available to employees and any partnerships the company might have with area non-profits, agencies or hospitals. Also, open up and demonstrate any knowledge you have gained about the company's community service.

At the end of the day, your job search should identify open positions with companies who are a good match with your core values. A company that values its commitment to the community will likely value its employees as well.