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Finding the Corporate Culture of an Organization
Job seekers often get so caught up in the excitement of finding a job in their field of experience, that they overlook the importance of how their own personality and work preferences fit in with the company’s.
Just as individuals tend to have a complicated mix of personality traits, so do companies of all sizes. A company’s corporate culture is the complex mix of how employees interact, what are the core beliefs, how many hours employees are expected to work each week, how high is the stress level, is the dress casual or formal, etc. And so often job seekers get caught up in the excitement of finding a job in their field of experience, that they overlook the importance of how their own personality and work preferences fit in with the company’s.
Finding your style
If you don’t know what your preferred style of work is, take some time to think about the environment where you are most comfortable.
- Do you work best in a team or individually?
- Are you willing to work 50+ hours a week on a regular basis, or do need to be home for family by 5:30 every afternoon?
- Are you motivated by competition among co-workers or do your prefer a fun environment where everyone gets along?
- Do you dread wearing a suit? Would you prefer casual Friday every day of the work week?
- Do cubicles make you claustrophobic?
Determining what environment works best with your own personality will go a long way in helping you evaluate whether or not a certain type of company culture will be a positive experience or a big mistake.
Determining the Culture of a Company
It doesn’t take long once you start working for a company to get a good feel for that company’s personality. But how do you find out during the interview process so you can avoid taking a position that does not gel with your own personality?
Researching the company on the internet will give you some clues. Companies with a fun and relaxed corporate culture tend to be outspoken about it and may even address the topic on their own website. These companies want to attract employees that “think outside the box” so they tend to shout out their corporate culture.
Although this doesn’t work with all companies, there are some businesses that you can get an idea of their corporate philosophy by stopping by and “hanging out” for awhile. For example, if you are interviewing with a retail organization, it’s easy to get a feel for their company culture by going to the store and being a customer. If it is a company with an office and a large reception area, do a little investigative work, befriend the receptionist and let them know you are considering employment with the company and just want to get a feel for the workplace. They tend to be a good source of information in answering questions such as “Do employees tend to socialize together outside of the workplace?” or “Does they company have high turnover?”
During the interview, ask questions, such as;
- What is the leadership style of the owner and/or president? The culture often gets established from the top. Knowing more about the personality of the key players in the organization can tell you a lot about the company.
- Are projects completed as teams or are they done individually?
- Is internal communication achieved through e-mail, formal meetings, informal gatherings around the copy machine?
- Does the company strive for internal promotion first before seeking outside candidates?
- Do most employees work in cubicles or offices?
- How is success rewarded?
It’s important to also know that corporate culture evolves and changes over time. Furthermore, in very large organizations, the personality can also differ between departments, and can change as staff members within the department changes. If your goal is a long-term relationship with an organization, then take the time to get to know their personality to make sure you will get along and bring out the best in each other.
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