Understanding Company Culture

Understanding Company Culture

By Samuel Garcia

“This above all: To thine own self be true…”

was penned by William Shakespeare ages ago. But how can we be true to ourselves if we do not really know who we are and what we are about? How can we find jobs that match us unless we first, solve this riddle?

Knowing what you really want to do, and where’s the best place to do it, is the critical first step to job search success. Do the industry, the company, and specific job match you? For example, does the job match your interests? Does the company culture support those values most important to you? Is the company a good match for your work style or personality type? Is this a place where you can use your best and favorite skills? Will taking this job advance your financial position and career goals?

If you are not clear on answers to these questions, consider career assessments to help you profile your interests, values, skills and personality type. Assessment results provide job options that could match you best. In addition, research labor market information to identify what your chosen career field is doing and is projected to do in relation to the economy. Once you are clear about these matters, you will have taken the first vital step to job search success.

Researching Companies

Research helps you establish that the company has what you want. However, it is probably much more difficult to establish what the company wants, then developing the best means to effectively communicate that you are the ideal candidate for the position.

Job applicants are not likely to make a good impression and land the job by walking into a job interview oblivious about company culture and job requirements. Trying to “wing it” by engaging the employer in a “hit and miss” process or “playing cat and mouse” with the interview panel does not work. There’s an abundance of resources available to learn about most companies. These include:

  1. Job Postings: Employers usually provide information about the company in job postings. Job ads can serve as a springboard for further research. At the least you get the name of the company and contact information which may include physical address, phone number, email address, and company website. Some employers also provide a company profile, slogan or mission statement.
  2. Internet Search: Search engines, such as Google, can lead to lots of links related to the company name. There are many helpful websites such as www.glassdoor.com, www.yelp.com, www.vault.com, www.yp.com, and many more.
  3. Social Media: Employers advertise products, services and activities on social media platforms such as www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com, to name only a few. Employers often use such platforms to recruit new employees. In fact, many employers no longer advertise: they enlist headhunters/recruiters to go through social media sites (such as LinkedIn), read profiles, and identify who the “movers and shakers” are for recruitment into the company.
  4. Networking: There are estimates that 60%-80% of all job hires are the result of networking which is considered by many experts as the best job search strategy. If there is anyone in your network that knows key players in the company or has any useful information about the company, this can provide great leverage, especially if they introduce or recommend you to the hiring manager.

Find Companies that match YOU, then show them how you match THEM

Knowing what you really want to do and where you want to do it makes it so much easier to answer the question, “Do I really want to work there?” Once you can answer “Yes”, you are still faced with the challenge of showing you are the best candidate for the position.

Estimates indicate there is an average of 100 job applicants for every job opening. Desperate job seekers tend to apply for whatever job they think can immediately put food on the table until something better comes along. Experienced employers can readily identify such applicants because they usually submit “one-size-fits-all” résumés that, usually, do not match job specifications.

On the other hand, what’s worse is that many qualified job seekers have difficulty communicating their fit for the job because they either failed to do their research or, just simply, do not know how to build a targeted résumé or create an impressive cover letter. Because such candidates are not effectively communicating their qualifications and fit for the job, employers may confuse them with unqualified, desperate job seekers. For all intents and purposes, their résumés and cover letters appear practically similar.

Some companies receive so many résumés they cannot possibly process all of them with existing staff resources. Some utilize Applicant Tracking Systems or farm them out to employment service agencies that screen, process and refer the best candidates to the employer.

Tell me about yourself

Employers don’t really want to know about you: They want to know the part of you that makes you the best candidate for the position. They want to know that you are qualified and have the right skills. They want to know you can deliver the results they expect and that you fit the company. But how can jobseekers tell employers what they need to know if they don’t know who they are talking to? That means you must know about the industry, the employer, and the job for which you are applying. Once you know who you are talking to, you are more likely to know what to say and how to say it. Simply connect the dots!

Increasingly, more employers have replaced, what is typically the first job interview question, “Tell me about yourself” with What do you know about our company?” Candidates without company knowledge are, thus, eliminated!

Knowing the Company Culture Helps

Investing time to learn about the company’s operating philosophy, mission statement, values, best practices, etc., provides insight by which you can gain a substantial advantage over the competition. You can leverage that knowledge in your cover letters, résumés and job interviews. Employers recognize your effort as an indication that you are already vested into the company. You are seen as a serious candidate who really wants to be part of the team. By then, you will have established that fact not only with the employer, but also with yourself, that you really do!