How to Research a Potential Employer for Cultural Fit

It’s a common, and very frustrating, situation. You scored the new job, it fits your skills and experience perfectly, and you are excited to start. But then, after a few weeks or months, total frustration. What happened? You and your new company have no cultural fit.

Let’s look into the concept of company culture, what it is, why it is important, and how you can research it before you start a new job.

What is Company culture?

Company culture is made up of the values, norms, beliefs, habits, language, and underlying assumptions of an organization. Every organization has a company culture. Sometimes it is carefully crafted and curated, and sometimes it developed more organically. These building blocks have immediate influence on atmosphere and work environment and on work practices. Work practices include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Dress code
  • Decision making style
  • Performance management and promotions
  • Compensation
  • Flexible hours/home office
  • Time off for community service or company-sponsored volunteering

why does it matter so much?

Now it is easily apparent why it is so important that there is a good cultural fit between the employee and their organization. If you like flat hierarchies but your company operates with a top down approach, you will not be productive. If you believe in pay for performance but you work for an employer that gives the same percentage raise to everybody regardless of performance, you will be frustrated. If you hate suit-and-tie but have to wear it every day, you will not feel at ease. The good news is, it is absolutely possible to research some of these determinants of company culture before you accept a new job.

Start with yourself

Before you start researching companies you are interested in, take a step back and start with yourself. In order to assess fit, you first need to be aware of your own priorities. You need to figure out which of the components of company culture listed above are most important to you. Is pay for performance more important than flexible hours or home office? Do dress code and community service trump pay and job content? These values will change over time and depend on the stage of life you are in. But you have to be aware of what is most important or non-negotiable for you.

Researching company culture

Now that you know what is important to you, you can start your research.

  1. Start with the company website. Check out the “our team” or “who we are” sections. Take a look at how the team is presented. Just picture and title? Or picture, title and some more background information? How are people dressed? Does the site only feature matter-of-fact content? Or do you see pictures from company parties or company volunteer days? What kind of information is displayed on the recruiting site?
  2. Check and follow the organization’s social media feeds.
  3. Check the LinkedIn profiles of people who work at your desired organization.
  4. Search online reviews, for example on www.glassdoor.com.
  5. Look for articles in professional, business, and industry publications.
  6. Listen to business podcasts where company leaders and/or founders are interviewed.
  7. Finally, talk to people who work at your desired employer and ask them about company culture.

All, or even just some, of the steps above will give you some insight into the company culture of a potential employer. And if you previously established your own list of priorities, you will be able to easily compare and contrast to see if an organization might be a fit.

We wish you much success in your job search! If you’d like any help with your job search or career development, the Career Center is here to help. Contact us at 225-231-3733 or at www.careercenterbr.com or check out our YouTube channel at careercenterbr.com/youtube.

Written by Anne Nowak

How to Succeed in a New Job

Congratulations, you made it through the application process and scored the new job! Now you want to make sure to start the new role off right.

Before your actual start date

Before your first day, you want to research the organization again. Check out if there is any recent big news such as leadership changes, acquisitions, new patents, new products, etc. You also want to read up on your new colleagues. Search them out on LinkedIn to see if you can establish any commonalities with some of them (for example, having attended the same college or having a previous employer in common). Sharing these experiences will make an easy segue to get to know your new colleagues.

Another easy way to make a good first impression is to talk to your new supervisor and ask them if there is anything specific you can do to prepare for your first day. Maybe they have an important deadline coming up where it could make a real difference if you hit the ground running.

The first days

You want to have a beginner’s mind; be open and eager to learn. Even though you might be an expert in your role, don’t barge in and let them know that you know everything better and will show them how it’s done. It’s important to first observe and learn how things are done in the new organization.

Good communication is always of utmost importance but especially early in a new job. Early on you want to discuss and establish the following with your supervisor and/or team:

  • Responsibilities
  • Priorities and upcoming deadlines
  • Gauge the preferred communication style, e.g. regular structured feedback vs. ongoing feedback
  • Expectations and objectives
  • Metrics to measure achievement of objectives

The first weeks and months

Spend some time networking within your company. Go to lunch with people, mingle at the water cooler, speak up in meetings and be proactive and display a can-do-attitude.  The more colleagues you have good relationships with and the more coworkers know about you and what you do, the better for your career. Relationships with the right people are the key ingredient to promotions and career success (of course you also want to be known for your stellar work product).

We wish you much success in your new job! If you’d like any help with your job search or career development, the Career Center is here to help. Contact us at 225-231-3733 or at www.careercenterbr.com or check out our YouTube channel.

Written by Anne Nowak

How to Build Self-Confidence for Job Search and Career Success

Job search can be a tough time for anybody’s self-confidence. Getting rejected for jobs or having the search taking longer than expected can eat away at our self-esteem. Here are some tips on keeping up your positive self-image even during tough times.

Self Confidence is a learned behavior

According to famed motivational speaker Tony Robbins, self-confidence is “the feeling of certainty that you can accomplish what you set out to do.” And it is a learned behavior! In his words, “The truth is that you are completely in charge of how you feel, including whether or not you feel confident. Confidence is not something that people are born with or simply have – it’s something you can create.” Gerald Schiraldi, author of the Self Esteem Workbook, points out that “the love and approval of others do not equal self-esteem. Otherwise it would be called other-esteem”. So, how can we increase or strengthen our self-esteem?

A healthy mind in a healthy body

It’s harder to feel self-confident when we feel physically unwell. Self-esteem builds on the basics of enough sleep, a good diet and exercise. Good posture and standing up tall also improve our feeling of power and agency. Try powerposing!

Retraining the brain for self confidence

Self-confident people know that they are the narrators of their own story. They take full accountability and have the belief that it is in their power to achieve what they set out to do. Since this belief in oneself is trainable, let’s look at a few exercises that can help everybody to build up their self-confidence.

  1. Practice the Golden Rule in reverse. We often talk to ourselves more harshly than we would to other people. Resolve to treat yourself as you would treat a good friend or loved one.
  2. Practice self-compassion. Use mindful awareness of emotional distress. Recognize self-critical thoughts without accepting them, e.g. “there is a critical thought – it’s just a thought”.
  3. Use “even though…nevertheless” statements, rather than labeling yourself. For example: Instead of “I’m just not good at this,” say “Even though I am not very good at this right now…. I nevertheless am on course and moving along” or “…. I nevertheless still enjoy trying” or “… learning nevertheless still feels adventurous”.
  4. Rewire your self-talk. “I’ll never succeed” turns into “success is exerting effort and moving in the desired direction”. “If only I‘d….” turns into “Next time I’ll….”. “I hate this about me” turns into “What an interesting quirk; I’m going to work on that”. “I’ll probably blow this” turns into “I’m not afraid to try, because my worth comes from within”.
  5. Create an inventory of your accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments to be proud of. Write yours down and remember how good it felt to achieve them.
  6. Make a playlist with music that builds you up.
  7. Surround yourself with people that build you up. Avoid people that make you feel small.

There are many TED talks that give great examples of the techniques outlined above. Here are some to start with:

Niko Everett: Meet Yourself

Kari Romeo: Teach Your Inner Critic a New Story

Written by Anne Nowak