Spotting a listing on a job board that piques your interest is exciting.
But before you immediately rush to prepare your resume, restructure your cover letter and (hopefully) prepare for an interview, it’s worthwhile to take some time to consider how your personality might fit with the company culture.
Company culture is an increasingly important factor for job seekers. In fact, a 2019 survey by employer review site Glassdoor found that of the 5,000 adults they surveyed, “more than three-quarters (77 percent) … would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there, and well over half (56 percent) say company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.”
This is obvious for many of us — we’re not only concerned about salary and title. But here’s the challenge: with the global nature of work and more roles becoming remote, it’s challenging to gain insight into a company’s culture: you may not get a ‘foot on the ground’ experience, might not have a connection with who works there, and you may not even be located in the same city or region.
So how can you establish if you’re a great fit for the company from afar? How can you assess whether you’ll gel with your colleagues and share the same values, ethics, and philosophy?
The internet offers a wealth of information on any company if you’re patient and careful enough to do enough research. A deep dive into the company’s social media pages, reviews, and website is a great way to gain psychology into the culture. Look for ‘About Us’ and Staff pages and follow up by investigating key employees on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Knowing how staff interact with and/or post about their employer will speak volumes about the culture fostered.
If you notice steady and consistently poor feedback, lack of interaction or dormant or outdated social channels, this might be worth considering if you’re seeking a place with low turnover, high morale, and enthusiasm. But don’t be too deterred by one or two bad reviews; try to keep a broad and open mind.
Pay attention to specific terminology on the company website — look for the company’s mission and culture statements and ensure your visions are aligned. Similarly, consider the exact wording of the job posting. For example, if a company describes their hours as ‘non-traditional’ with no indication of the hours, this may mean that you’re expected to be available in your personal time, which might be considered a red flag for some.
Likewise, salaries might be disclosed, ‘negotiable,’ framed as ‘competitive’ or simply unlisted. Each method of disclosure reflects a different orientation to compensation and what the organization expects from its staff.
If you’re currently exploring the job market, connecting with an employment agency or top sales recruiter is another great way to mitigate culture concerns or a mismatch of values. Often, recruitment agencies will connect job seekers with companies they consider to be a good fit to recruit the best talent after thoroughly analyzing career goals.
Interviews are often considered a vital opportunity for the employer to establish how great of a fit the potential hire will be. But remember, interviews are a two-way street. An interview is ultimately your best opportunity to gain insight and establish if this company is a good fit for you, professionally and culturally.
Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions. Not only will asking questions increase your knowledge of the company, but doing so will signal to potential employers that you’re interested, engaged, focused on the right issues, and observant.
Some questions that can give you insights into the alignment of values are as follows:
- Do you partner with any grassroots organizations or charities? How do you give back to the community?
- How does the company maintain community and communication between employees?
- If targets are not being met, how does upper management handle this?
- How are vacation and sick days managed?
- Can you sum up the company culture as an elevator pitch?
Trust Your Instincts
Having done a proper amount of online research, scrutinized company terminology and asked probing questions during the interview, go with your overall instincts. If you strongly feel the company culture isn’t going to work for you, follow your gut and keep looking. In the long run, it’s always better to score a satisfying, fulfilling position than one that compromises or undermines your values or mental health.