Have you ever glanced at a job description and thought it matched your skill set so perfectly that the hiring manager surely had you in mind when creating it? Only to realize at the interview that you would never, ever fit in at such a place? There is no denying that possessing the right skills and background are imperative to the position you want. But as too many people learn, allowing yourself to be seduced by great pay or benefits while ignoring warning signs about the culture can be disastrous.
Why should job-seekers care about a potential employer's corporate culture? Aren't there more important factors to consider, such as the job itself, salary and bonuses, and fringe benefits? These factors are important, but increasingly career experts are talking about the employee-employer "fit." How well the employee fits the culture can make the difference between job-search success and failure. According to Leadership Coach Ron Rael, today's applicants will base their decision to accept a position on two criteria: 1) the person that he will work for, and 2) the feel he has for the corporate culture.
Just what is corporate culture? Simply put, it's the personality of an organization. It guides how employees think, act, and feel, and includes a company's core values and beliefs, ethics, and rules of behavior. Culture reveals itself in many ways, both obvious and subtle. The d?cor of its offices, how its employees dress, and how they interact with each other are all observable clues.
Before you dismiss the corporate culture factor as insignificant, here are some tangible ways it affects you: the amount of hours you are expected to work; whether it's a fun or hostile environment – or something in between; the dress code; the type of office space you'll occupy (and rules regarding display of personal items); the training and development you'll receive; the availability of onsite perks such as fitness and daycare facilities; and the interaction you'll have with other employees, especially top management.
How do you uncover the corporate culture of a potential employer? The truth is that you will never really know the corporate culture until you have worked at the company for a number of months, but you can get close to it through research and observation. Understanding culture is a two-step process, starting with research before the interview and ending with observation at the interview.
Experts suggest arriving early to the interview — unannounced if possible — and spend the time observing how current employees interact with each other, how they are dressed, and their level of courtesy and professionalism. While it is great that firms are now using their cultures as a tool to attract and retain talent, companies must be able to substantiate their claims of a work/life balance, team atmosphere, or any other such promise.
The bottom line is that you are going to spend a lot of time in the work environment — and to be happy, successful, and productive, you'll want to be in a place where you fit the culture. A place where you can have a voice, are respected, and have opportunities for growth.
Portions of this article have been excerpted from Dr. Randall Hansen's website, quintessentialcareers.com. anding