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How to find a job at a company with a conscience

Want to make a difference in the community? So do many employers. Here’s how to connect with them.

How to find a job at a company with a conscience

Believe it or not, despite all of the negative stereotypes you read about millennials—they lack loyalty and want a trophy just for showing up, just to name a few—there is in fact a silver lining: Millennials want work that gives back to the community.

“Millennials were raised in an era of volunteerism,” says Patrick Rooney, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “They learned growing up that it’s personally rewarding to give back to the community.”

More than half of millennials said a company’s charitable work influenced them to accept a job offer, according to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report by research and creative agency Achieve. And while you may immediately associate social good with nonprofits, the for-profit sector has hundreds of businesses that have made charitable giving and volunteer work part of their core values.

You’ll need to do some digging, though, to find one that fits your career goals and philanthropic ambition­—this strategy will help you draw out the best companies.

Determine how you’d like to give back

For-profit companies give back in a variety of ways. Some contribute hard cash—31% of millennial employees who have donated through a company-sponsored giving campaign said their employer matched at least a portion of their donation, the Millennial Impact Report found. Some organizations require employees to participate in company-wide volunteer days.

Others take a creative approach when it comes to corporate social responsibility, like Oakland, California-based Back to the Roots, which sells grow-your-own mushroom kits and donates kits to public schools when customers upload photos of their products.

Therefore, figure out what matters most to you before diving into your job search.

Scope out employers’ community involvement online

Once you’ve nailed down your criteria, make a list of the companies you want to work at—if you’re not sure, you can try searching Monster jobs for skills like social good, social work or volunteer—and start poking around the organizations’ websites. “It should be easy for you to find what community service work the company does,” says James Rutherford, dean at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Are there profiles of employees who are doing great philanthropy work? Are there photos of company volunteer days? If the company offers donation matching for employees, does it say how much the firm raised last year?

Moreover, businesses that are truly committed to public service promote their initiatives on social media, so follow prospective employers on social media, starting with Facebook and Twitter. When possible, subscribe to the company’s newsletter to learn about upcoming events.                         

Go on informational interviews…

Once you’ve studied the company online, validate in person what the culture is like by going on informational interviews—even if there’s no open position—which get you into the office and enable you to meet face to face with hiring managers and recruiters, says Dev Aujla, co-author of Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money, and Community in a Changing World.

Keep in mind informational interviews can be set up with anyone at the company; they don’t necessarily need to have hiring power. While you’re there, “make small talk with employees in the break room and people you pass in the hallways,” says Aujla, since they can give you firsthand account of what it’s like to work at the company. You never know what connections you’ll make so make sure to keep a resume handy.

…and ask the right questions

Express why your goals align with the company’s (e.g., “Public service is a priority to me, so I’d like to learn more about your organization’s community engagement.”) Find out how the company encourages employee participation in volunteer days—are they mandatory, or do only a handful of people show up?—and how new hires can help plan events (e.g., Is there a designated philanthropy committee that you can join?).

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