The mission statement of any organization tells you about their values and purpose.  It is a great way to learn about the institution. 

This is particularly useful when you are considering a position (of any kind) within that organization.  Whether applying to be a pupil or an employee, evaluating the mission statement will serve you well. 

By gaining a deep understanding of the mission statement, you will not only gain a better understanding of the organization, but you will be better prepared to apply.  Your application materials and interview vernacular will reveal that “you did your research and liked what you saw”.

Every mission statement contains certain components, regardless of the type of institution.  Answer the following questions to deconstruct the mission statement of an organization that you are interested in.

Who is the institution serving? – Customers

Typically, external customers, organizations often have a group of people that they set out to help.  One question to ask yourself when identifying these customers is “Do I want to serve this group?”.

What does the institution provide? – Products/Services

How do they serve their customers?  The mission statement will indicate the main services and/or products that this institution provides.  Whether this is education from a University or food products from a manufacturer, the mission statement will reveal how this organization fulfills their purpose.

Where does the institution contribute? – Market

The mission statement typically refers to a geographic location in which the institution functions.  Local community to global market, find out the reach of this institution.

What are the major concerns of the institution?

Is there a concern for survival, growth, profitability?  Is the institution committed to financial soundness and sustainability?  Or maybe the institution is concerned about equality or fair trade.  Concerns are values that you may share with the institution.

What is the institution’s philosophy?

The mission statement will reveal the beliefs and values of the organization.  It may indicate the ethical priorities and aspirations.  It is important to consider these and determine if you agree with this philosophy. 

What is the unique competence of this institution? – Self-concept

This statement should reveal the unique, competitive advantage of this organization.  How is it different from other institutions that serve similar customers with similar services/products?  How does this institution feel that they stand out from others?  This provides great insight into how the leaders view this organization.

Is there a concern for public image? If so, what is it?

Does the institution address social or environmental concerns?  Does it respond to community concerns?  Which ones?  Does this appeal to you?

Is there a concern for employees?

Employees (a.k.a. internal customers) are the pillars in which all institutions stand.  Does this institution show it in their mission statement?  Does this statement reveal that employees are a valued asset?

This is very important to consider if looking for employment within the organization.

Give it a try with the mission statement of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at  Compare your answers.

Customers – Members;

Services – research, education, and advocacy;

Market – American/US;

Concerns – communicating the expertise of its members;

Philosophy – nutritional well-being, public health, food conservation, professional leadership;

Unique – largest organization of food and nutrition professionals;

Public Image – advocates of public health, empower nutrition leaders;

Concerns for Employees – no mention of paid employees, but a concern for the advancement of the internal customer (i.e. the members).

For more great content, sign up for Professional Insights newsletter.

About the Author:  Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

Dr. Golem is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.   She earned a PhD in Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University and has worked as a registered dietitian in a variety of settings.  Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

Join one or both of her LinkedIn Groups: Nutrition Professional Resource Group and Dietetic & Nutrition Students & Interns