When you apply for a new position, your first inclination is probably to make sure your qualifications meet the job requirements. However, if you want to be successful in a new role, it’s essential to determine whether the company’s culture is a good fit for you. In fact, doing so could be the most important career move you make because cultural fit has a direct impact on how happy, engaged, and productive you are at work. The reason for this is straightforward: if the collective values and behaviors of your workplace align with your own, you’ll feel supported at work and motivated to perform well. But if there’s a disconnect, you’re likely to feel isolated and disengaged, which clearly isn’t conducive to doing your best work.
To determine whether an organization’s culture appeals to you, you first need to be aware of your own values regarding work. Ask yourself what high-level values you’re looking for in an employer. Consider factors such as employee development, workplace equality, and commitment to transparency, as well as social responsibility, innovation, green initiatives, and community outreach. Then consider what type of a work environment you’re looking for. Think of things like company hierarchy, a formal work environment vs. a casual one, opportunities for project-based work, and team structure.
Once you’ve established what you value, it’s time to research the prospective employer. Visit its website to learn all you can about the company and its history, mission, employees, projects, and values. Do an Internet search for new articles about the company. It’s also advisable to read reviews from current and former employees on Glassdoor.com. And as Molly Petrilla points out in her FastCompany article “How to Tell if You’ll Fit Into a Company’s Culture Before You Take the Job,” if you’re already in the interview process, you can request a copy of the handbook to learn more about the company’s rules and regulations. Finally, if possible, reach out to an employee or former employee and ask what it’s like to work at the company.
If, after doing your research, you find that your values and mostly correspond with the company’s, then chances are you’ll be a good fit for the culture. But if you can’t find much common ground, then it’s probably best to give the job application some more thought. Because when you feel like a fish out of water at work, it’s likely to have a negative effect on your performance—and in the long run, it could adversely impact your career path. So before you accept any job offer, do your research, and make sure that the work environment is one where you can not only survive, but actually thrive!
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