You've Graduated, Now Ask This Key Question Next

Congratulations. You've just graduated.

Now, it's time to get a job. The pressure is on.

Over 20 million students attend American colleges and universities each year. You aren't one of them anymore, but you are one of nearly 4 million people who have just graduated. You're ready to enter the workforce, but there's 4 million other people looking for a job, too. How can you compete?

Let's turn the tables on that question. Often you are pressured to take the first position that comes your way. There are bills to pay and living with your parents is becoming annoying.

Before accepting, you may want to pause and consider asking one important question about the company you are about to work for.

Does this organization exhibit a higher purpose?

Studies are proving that purpose is becoming an important aspect of employee fulfillment. Sadly, only 28 percent of workers describe themselves as possessing an employment position that acts as a source of personal fulfillment. Put differently, 72 percent of employees don't feel there is any meaning in their job. In another study, 89 percent of executives indicated a strong sense of purpose as an organization drives employee satisfaction, but, ironically, only 46 percent of all companies actually run their firm in a purpose-driven way.

Greek philosopher Aristotle believed and taught that human beings were driven by purpose, autonomy and the natural desire to seek out and understand the truth. Your morals and behaviors come to fruition when you can pursue and then attain a life of purpose, ultimately the end state of human well-being.

But in order to reach this critical state, you have to accept a job that provides you a paycheck so you can do things in your life other than working 70-hours a week. The job you accept and the company you work for will have a lot to do with your state of well-being, of feeling good in life.

What are the signs you should be looking for in an organization before saying yes to that job?

  • Companies that are fixated solely on making a profit -- and nothing else -- will begin to wear on you. If senior leaders are only motivated by money, it's unlikely they will be motivated in you. Every company needs to make a profit, but it cannot be its only goal.
  • The company should be doing more than issuing a once-a-year Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) document. Far too many organizations think this is its higher purpose. It's not. It ought to be publishing an ongoing track-record of its contributions to society.
  • Read their mission statement. If it does not specify the company is in business to serve all stakeholders (customers, employees, the environment, society and those deserving a just return) it will likely be a difficult place in which to work, one devoid of a higher purpose.
  • If nobody discussed with you ways in which you can contribute to the company's purpose, you may want to think again about that role. Indeed, 41 percent of executives believe there to be a disconnect between senior leadership and the employees over organizational purpose.

Management expert Peter Drucker once said of the link between life and work: "To make a living is no longer enough. Work also has to make a life." If work is to make a life, as Drucker suggested, the purpose of the organization ought to be a something you consider before saying yes to that new job offer.

Don't leave it to chance. This is your life, your career. It's your purpose. Now, go ask those tough questions ... on purpose.