by Tracy Cashman, Senior Vice President and Partner, Information Technology Search, WinterWyman
If you’re like most job seekers, you focus on the new job’s responsibilities, compensation and location when deciding whether to take it. But finding an employer with a culture that suits you is just as important as the title you hold and what you are paid. After all, great pay can’t compensate for working at a place where you feel miserable every day.
However, figuring out a company’s culture – and whether it’s a good match for you – isn’t easy. It takes a bit of legwork. So follow these five steps to help you through the process:
1. Determine what’s important to you.
Consider what you like and don’t like at your current and past employers. Were they too casual or too formal for you? Think about what you’d want in an office if you could design your own. Would you want a laid-back vibe or something more structured? Take a personality test or ask family or friends to help you articulate what you really value at work and what really bugs you in the office. Use these answers to evaluate whether a company’s culture is right for you.
2. Research prospective employers.
You can learn a lot about a company’s personality by looking at how it presents itself in public and how it’s covered in the media. Review corporate websites, press releases, news stories and social feeds featuring the employers you’re considering. For example, press releases promoting teams that are doing innovative work tell you what the company values. Facebook photos of workers having fun on the job show the company likes to promote a spirited environment.
3. Ask questions.
Research can only tell you so much about a company’s culture, so be sure to ask about it during the interview process. You can be direct and ask the HR rep or the hiring manager to describe the culture and particular policies, such as flex time or telecommuting options. You can also ask key questions to potential colleagues to elicit insightful responses. Those questions include: What do you like about the company? What don’t you like about working here? How would you describe a typical day?
Take mental notes about a company’s work environment as you go through interviews. How do the workers come across? Are they happy and friendly – or anxious and nervous? How’s the office laid out – cubicles and offices or a wide-open floor plan? Do you get a tour on the first interview or are you kept on a schedule in a formal conference room? Your own observations will help you determine whether it feels right for you.
5. Use your good judgment.
Don’t make snap decisions. It’s important to take time to evaluate what you’ve learned from your research, interviews and visits and match them against what you want in a work environment. Don’t be put off by one negative online post or an unpleasant interaction with one employee. Remember, they might have a different definition of what’s a good work environment than you do. It’s also important to remember that it’s unlikely you’ll find everything you want in an office, either. You need to know what you can live with, and what you can’t take. Because by knowing what’s most important to you and doing your own due diligence, you’re likely to land a job where you’ll be happy.
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