A student's guide to employers' core values, by Cummins

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:40

Most employers have a set of core values and Cummins in particular lives and breathes by them. But what have company values got to do with applying for a job?

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You might have seen a list of core values on an employer’s website – often with a sentence or two about what each value means to them. For Cummins, a global engineering and technology company, these values are:

  • Integrity
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Caring
  • Excellence
  • Teamwork.

Don’t make the mistake of scrolling past these without a second thought. ‘Our values are not just words on a website,’ says Grace Gill, talent acquisition coordinator at Cummins. ‘Since I joined in 2013 as a placement student, I’ve worked with many different teams across the company and I can honestly say that our workforce genuinely believes in our core values and demonstrates them each and every day. I think this is one of the key reasons why we reached our 100th anniversary in 2019 and why we will still be thriving in another 100 years.’

‘In today’s world, values are more important than ever. It’s companies with very ethical values that are doing well,’ adds Tom Partridge, director of laboratory operations at Cummins’ European Technical Centre in Darlington. ‘It’s important that any future employees can embrace these values and live them during their employment,’ says Tom.

An organisation’s values reveal important information for students and graduates. They can help you determine upfront if an employer is the right fit for you and help you succeed in your applications and interviews; employers often recruit in line with their values as they want to know if you share them. We’ve unpacked everything you should know about employer values with the help of Grace and Tom. You can also find a breakdown of what each of Cummins’ values mean to Grace and Tom on Cummins’ employer hub .

What are company values?

‘Just as we all have our own individual values and morals, so too does an organisation,’ says Grace. ‘They’re like guiding principles of how all employees should behave and they underpin a company’s culture.’

It’s common for employers to have between three and six values; Cummins has five. When you consider that these have been chosen over countless other possibilities, they can tell you a lot about what the organisation stands for. Its values are unique. While different employers have one or two values in common, there will be differences in how they define and embody each value.

Values aren’t just established to set an example for employees, though: ‘Looking at our values, stakeholders know they are working with a company that encourages positive behaviours and attitudes from its employees. It’s important because these values translate to the product and/or service that is being sold,’ explains Tom.

Do you assess students against Cummins’ core values as part of your recruitment process?

The short answer is yes and Grace stresses how important it is for students to understand Cummins’ values and keep them in mind throughout the recruitment process.

‘During the initial recruitment stages, we invite eligible candidates to complete online psychometric testing. Candidates are assessed on their behavioural competencies and their personality traits, which gives us a great indication of whether a candidate shares the same values as us and would be a good fit for our workforce,’ says Grace. ‘During interviews, we are also keen to learn more about the candidate as a person and their behaviours. We can teach the technical and role-specific stuff, but we need to make sure we are a good fit for each other first.’

And values can be assessed in interviews in various ways, although each employer will do it differently. ‘Employers might assess candidates’ values through values-based interview questions, role play exercises and psychometric tests, for example. In my experience, it’s interviews where potential employees often fail to express their own true values,’ points out Tom.

So, do you have any advice on how students can match Cummins’ values?

Authenticity is key. ‘Spend some time compiling your own list of values before looking at those of the company – and then see how we match up,’ recommends Tom. ‘The most important thing here is to be totally honest with yourself and not just say what you think an employer wants to hear. It’s too easy to say “I want to improve the environment” when you do not really mean it.’

Grace also has plenty of suggestions for how to decipher what your own values are. ‘Think about what success looks like to you, whether that is at university, through a hobby or in any other aspect of your life. Now ask yourself what you need to do to get there. How do you think you need to behave and interact with others, and what would you expect to see in return? Think about the people you look up to and ask yourself what it is you admire about them. You will soon end up with a list that looks a lot like your personal values,’ she says.

As to how you can apply this to the recruitment process, Grace says: ‘We always encourage applicants to demonstrate on their CVs how they have behaved in line with our core values. Think about any hobbies you have, along with part-time work or university projects you've undertaken, and tell us a little bit about any specific times when you have acted in line with our values. Then, at the interview stage, be prepared to go into detail, with real examples, of how you have demonstrated Caring, Diversity & Inclusion, Integrity, Teamwork and Excellence.’

Grace and Tom’s explanations of what Cummins’ values mean to them will help, too.

Should a student be successful in applying to Cummins, what will the values mean to them in their role?

Learning and understanding Cummins’ values will be important when settling into a new role. ‘The values will guide students on how to behave and work with others, how to approach everyday tasks and how to build great relationships with your colleagues, ensuring they maximise their potential and get the most out of their placement year,’ explains Grace.

Values are also essential to your day-to-day work. ‘As an example, excellence drives improved work, be it technical or customer service. And diversity and inclusion will help them to understand they do not need to be an island or isolated. These values will quickly become second nature and they will use them naturally as they progress through their career,’ says Tom.

Cummins’ leadership team also goes to great lengths to update the entire workforce on how their five core values are contributing to the success of the company. ‘On a day-to-day basis, the leadership team is very good at communicating the values and showing how they are guiding our work across the globe, for example by regularly sharing news articles and emails and holding meetings,’ adds Tom.

Head to Cummins’ employer hub to find out more and view any current vacancies.

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