For anyone passionate about secular work being ministry, a thorough investigation of a prospective employer is critical. Why would anyone want to invest precious years of their career, of their business ministry, into a firm with dysfunctional leadership and corporate culture? If you are to thrive in your pursuit of business as ministry, you must be armed with tools to help you understand not just the observable culture of a firm, but the true core culture of the firm, leadership’s view of intellectual capital and the ethical standards that leadership not only espouses but lives out in practice.

From the outside looking in, how is it possible to gain an accurate understanding of whether or not the prospective employers’ value system is in alignment with your own? How can you be certain that your employment with a firm will be mutually beneficial and will never lead to conflicting values or ethical dilemmas? There are some simple methods to help ensure great job fit and identify firms where your passion for business as ministry can be realized.

Start your pursuit of business as ministry within a prospective firm by identifying the leaders of the firm. Look at their background, the firms they’ve previously worked for and look at their track record, what they’ve accomplished in their career. Search diligently for leadership quotes easily uncovered through corporate communications that give insight into two specific areas; whether or not they are customer-driven and whether or not they are employee-driven. If your investigation of the leadership team does not reveal a customer-driven mindset, does not demonstrate their understanding of the need to inspire and motivate employees, there is a strong probability that employees rather than being a precious asset, a potential source of sustainable competitive advantage, may simply be viewed as a general and administrative overhead cost. You certainly will not be able to passionately pursue business as ministry if you are their to fill a slot and considered as a G&A expense line item.

Look further to see if leaders have published mission/vision statements. Do they actually publish values statements? Many mission statements espouse maximizing profits, maximizing shareholder value, but do they talk about leveraging intellectual capital in order to anticipate the future needs of their best and most valuable customers. In short, is there evidence in the company’s published mission and value statements of the importance of human resources and creating delighted customers? Can you make the important connection that validates leadership’s position that customers are only delighted when front-line human resources have the power and motivation to do whatever it takes to meet individualized customer needs?

Does the leadership team have a pro-active and strategic view of the four functions of human resources management (recruiting, hiring, training and retaining)? Does the firm visit local campuses, and recruit interns? Does the firm employ management development candidates? In short, your research should help you determine whether or not leadership is in search of the best and the brightest, understanding that no firm can reach highest possible levels of performance unless employees are at their highest levels of performance, inspired, motivated and empowered.

Finally, look to see if the leadership of the firm advocates on-going training, not just initial job training. Looks to see if the firm is interested in on-going professional development of intellectual capital. Remember that as a Christian seeking to be a light for Christ in a secular business environment that your core values cannot be compromised. You must be steadfast, unwavering in the behavior you exhibit in your passionate pursuits. Take the necessary time to validate the alignment of your core values with those of the leadership of the firm you intend to work with (not for). Ultimately, this investment should lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.

What do you think? Students: do these ideas help you as you prepare to find a job? Employers: do you agree with these considerations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.