Figure out which work environment fits you.
When you're about to leap into the journey of life after college, there are so many things to consider. Your list probably starts with how to find meaningful and gainful employment so you can officially become an independent adult. But, it shouldn’t stop there.
Here are some other things to consider when looking for a work environment that fits your needs, comfortability and personality.
Cultural fit is an important component of the job application process.
Cultural fit is just as important as job fit and your ability to perform the duties of the position you're hired for. If you're not happy with the culture you find yourself working in, then you're likely in for a long road of difficult situations, choices, and unhappiness when it comes to your job. As shared on Candidate.Guru, "a good cultural fit is associated with many benefits, including greater job satisfaction, better performance, improved employee well-being, higher retention rates and stronger strategic alignment."
Think about your ideal job and what you want out of it.
The first place to start to identify the type of culture that you'd prefer is to get clear on what your ideal work day looks like. Ask yourself questions like:
- What type of people do you work with? Are the employees open and personable, or are they often focused on their work and work is their life?
- What is the leadership of the organization like? Do the leaders lead by example? Do you have visibility to them? Is there an open door policy?
- How much flexibility do you have in how you do your job? Is there a long process for approval, or as long as you complete your work efficiently, you can do it however you'd like?
- What's the office environment like? Is it relaxed or stuffy? Are people wearing business suits all the time, or is there a business casual dress code?
- Is the management structure flat or hierarchical? The flatter an organization, the more flexibility and discretion you often have when it comes to making a decision on how to get your work done. On the flipside, you might not have as much opportunity for advancement or movement to other positions. It can also mean that the organization is newer and so are processes and procedures—not to imply that this is always the case by any means. The more hierarchical the organization, the longer it often takes to move through the chain of commands for approval on projects and initiatives, and you might not have as much visibility to the higher leaders of your department or organization.
- Do I prefer a large vs. a small company? A large company might look good on your resume, but a small company might allow for more visibility. On the flip side, a smaller company might present you with fewer opportunities for advancement.
- Do you prefer a company that focuses on the community? Do they have a volunteer policy? Do they care about giving back to the community for which they support?
- Would you prefer to work for a non-profit or for-profit organization?
- What type of industry interests you?
- Are you looking for a company that's environmentally friendly and has green initiatives?
- Does the company reward and value its employees? Do they have a good service award and recognition program in place? Do they have solid health and welfare benefits in place?
- Do you want to work for a startup or established organization? Are you looking for the thrill of helping to build a company, or do you prefer the stability of a more established company?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions to consider, but it will give you a good place to start. Also, there are no right or wrong answers here. We're all different and prefer different types of cultures, work and environments. What's important is finding an organization you feel would be a good cultural fit for you.
Research and ask questions to determine the culture of an organization.
There are several ways you can learn about an organization to determine what their culture is like. I've provided some ideas below to help you both before and during the interview.
Before the interview or applying for a position:
- Research the company you're considering. You can learn a lot about a company's culture by looking at their website, checking out their social media pages, and more.
- Ask questions of current and former employees. Use networking opportunities to request information about an organization. You can connect with current employees of an organization you're interested in on LinkedIn, for example, and see what you can find out. You want to be professional with your request, of course, and don't stalk or be too eager with your requests.
- Attend an event hosted by the company. Some companies host events that you might be able to attend. These are great opportunities to find out about the organization's culture by simply observing what goes on at the event. You can find out about such events on a company's website or social media pages.
During the interview:
- Ask questions. If you make it to an interview, you can ask questions that will help you get a feel for a company's culture. After your first interview, for example, you can ask questions about the health and welfare benefits and how they show they value their employees, for example. You can also ask about their time-off and work schedule policies. The answers you receive will give you insights into how much emphasis is put into taking care of the employees and acknowledging them. However, you don't want to ask these questions too soon in the interview process or it might appear you only care about what you'll receive vs. the job.
- Pay attention to the office environment. During your interview, you can get a sense of what the office environment is like. Take note of the break rooms, the attitude of the employees, how the office is set up (cubicles, etc.), and the attire of the employees.
It might take working in an environment or two before you find the right "cultural fit" for you.
Sometimes, it takes us working in a certain environment or culture to realize it's not for us. This is what happened to me. I quickly realized working non-stop for seventy hours a week for a huge organization wasn't my favorite environment to be in, but it took me working in such an environment before I realized it. Nothing is permanent, so if you end up with a company that you don't love from a cultural perspective, do your best with your job, and with time, look for a company that might be a better fit for you.
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