Finding The Right Company Culture!

August 28th, 2012 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »

When looking for a new job, don’t neglect the company culture! With a little reflection, some keen observation, & some great questions, you can find an environment that is just right for you!

Unless you are a proud & prodigious career hopper, you, like most job seekers, are looking to settle down into a permanent career. Gone are your days of complacently wandering from one unsatisfying position to the next; you need your job to be a warm and cozy home instead of a draft, ramshackle lean-to. Sadly, that is often easier said than done. When on the market for a new job, many job seekers get lost in the deep, hypnotic trance of extraordinary salaries, forgetting to even consider the company’s culture. Then, after a few weeks on the job, reality sinks in and the atmosphere closes in around them. Before they know it, they’re out pounding the pavement again in search of yet another job. Learn from their mistakes! With some soul searching, keen observation, and a few focused questions, you can find a comfortable place to house your career.

Acknowledge your personal values: The first step is to allow yourself to be introspective. What are your personal values? What do you value in an employer? What conditions are absolute deal breakers on any job? Can you handle any office environment shy of an Orwellian nightmare? Knowing the answer to these questions can save you a lot of undue headaches, heartaches, & stress-induced ulcers. Ending up in a culture that is misaligned from your own values is a nerve-wracking experience. You may feel dissatisfied, unmotivated, or even deeply depressed. So, be true to your beliefs & know peace when applying for a new job.

Research each employer: The company website is always the best starting point for your research. Most companies are eager to talk about themselves and often provide you with a cultural synopsis in “Mission Statements” or “About Us” pages. On these pages, keep an eye for core values and how the company acknowledges employees. This is the best way to determine whether management will view you as a cog within the business machine or a valued member of a business family.

Furthermore, don’t limit your search to the company’s website. Management can occasionally get caught up in idealism and lose track of real world conditions. According to the Boston Research Group, where 41% of bosses are likely to say their firm rewards employee performance based on values, only 14% of employees actually agree with them. That is where it helps to double check the company using reliable media sources & industry publications. Unaffiliated with the company’s agenda, these sources can provide you with supplemental information for a more authentic view of the company culture. They can help you to answer critical questions: Is the company recognized as a great place to work? Is the company perceived as a caring member of the local community? Does the company boast a notorious reputation for the way it treats customers & employees? Positive & negative, these answers add to the overall tapestry of the company culture.

On a final note, never base your opinions on one source alone. The more sources you consult, the more informed your decision will be.

Be observant during your interview: Even the interview can give you essential clues about the company culture. Before the interview begins, take a close look at the interviewer’s body language. Does it suggest passion & energy or irritation & boredom. Listen intently to what is said on the other side of the table. What key phrases are repeatedly used? How prepared does the interviewer seem? How does the interviewer react to your questions? Keep all of these factors and more in mind while making your final decision.

Openly ask about the company: When asked if you have any questions, come prepared with a list of questions including some about the existing culture. Ask about core company values & the code of ethics, listening up for important keywords that align with your beliefs. If you have a chance to interact with other employees, ask them about their perception of the company culture – their responses are often more candid and enlightening.

Rely on a recruiter: Any good recruiter loves to play matchmaker, connecting you with a culture that fits your personality and needs. Recruiters can help you sift through open positions, separating the oh-so-right from the oh-so-wrong. Since most companies want an employee who fits into the existing culture mold, recruiters are often provided with the inside scoop on the office atmosphere, values, & unique perks.

by James Walsh