Meshing with the company culture is key
There are an infinite number of reasons why networking will get you hired faster than an online application. One of the best aspects of networking is that you can learn a lot about the company culture before you even apply. Whether you are buying him or her lunch, a beer after work, or a morning cup of coffee, meeting with an employee of your target organization can teach you a lot about their place of work before you even open your mouth to say “hello.”
What time did they want to meet? How are they dressed? Are they in a hurry to get back to the office?
All of these things are indicators of corporate culture, our focus for today. But before I go any further, what exactly is corporate culture?
According to Inc magazine, “Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.”
In short, corporate culture is the lifeblood of a company. How employees react and communicate with one another and the value they place on fellow co-workers. In my personal experiences with my job hunt, meshing with the company culture is the number 1 reason I got hired. Every time. Obviously, having the required skills lined out in the job position summary was a major qualifier. However, even if I wasn’t the most qualified candidate, being able to communicate confidently and mesh well with my soon-to-be co-workers during interviews proved to be my best selling point.
This is an important consideration in your job hunt, and one that doesn’t get talked about enough.
What kind of business do you want to work for?
Do you prefer a well-defined hierarchy with a clear vision for your career growth? Or do you prefer a more entrepreneurial start up culture, where everyone does a little bit of everything?
Is a fast-paced environment where you solve big problems and stay late with your team exciting to you, or are you looking to get home at 6pm every day?
Are you looking for a professional environment where things are neat and orderly, or do you like a dressed-down workplace where you can put your feet up on the chairs?
Do you want to go to happy hours with your coworkers every Friday afternoon, or do you prefer to keep your work life and personal life separate?
It can be a helpful exercise to actually write these desired traits down on paper. You can reference your notes as you look to create a shortlist of target companies and even turn them into insightful interview questions. Asking about company culture shows that you care about the organization in which you work. It shows that you are looking to commit to your career and are not just looking for any job that will take you. Just remember—recruiters and hiring managers may not be so open about the drawbacks of their organization’s culture. Be sure to get both sides of the story through reviews (e.g.Glassdoor.com) and your own observations while networking or walking around the office.
How corporate culture factors into the job search
Networking and finding a great fit with an organization’s culture can be your ticket into an interview—and it can even be the deciding factor when choosing between two equally qualified candidates. For me, I found that my experiences didn’t matter as much as my fit with the company culture… and the hiring manager never would have seen that fit if he didn’t meet me in person. But even more importantly, analyzing corporate culture is also a great way for you to “fish in the right waters.” Some companies might be great on paper (and your family and friends might encourage you to apply), but if you know that their values are significantly different than yours, it may be worth looking elsewhere. We all want to land a job as quickly as possible, but if it’s not the right fit then you might find yourself unhappy and looking for a new job sooner than you would like.
When you do identify companies that seem like a great fit for you, reach out to them! Network with their employees—you’ll probably find you have a lot in common, giving you plenty to talk about. Go to their events. Engage with them on social media. When it comes time for the interview, the synergy will be obvious. They’ll be just as excited to hire you as you are to join their company. Happy hunting!
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