I’ve been coaching clients on their career paths for a decade now and there’s a big trend that I’ve noticed lately: no matter what stage someone is in their career or what industry they work for, there’s a tremendous sense of tension and confusion. The reasons I hear vary:
“My boss under-utilizes me.”
“My coworkers consistently gossip and if I don’t partake, I know they will throw me under the bus.”
“My company doesn’t respect its employees. It’s churn and burn.”
“The environment is very toxic.”
“They hired a 25-year-old male for a senior director role that I was qualified for.”
“They put me thru four rounds of interviews only to ghost me.”
The list goes on.
It’s disheartening to hear these stories. On one hand talented people can’t seem to land or sustain good positions. On the other hand, companies are consistently sending the message they can’t find or sustain the right talent.
So what’s the real story?
It’s that today, more than in any other time in the past century of an American workforce, has the right fit been more important. And by fit, I don’t mean the right diploma, set of skills or even job titles. Bit fit I mean only one thing: culture.
Corporate Culture is a big buzz term. But its meaning continues to evolve. So what I tell my clients, students and the readers of this column is this: far above industry, company or title, go apply to the organization where the environment most closely aligns with your own values. Then, once you’re inside, you can navigate and if you get promoted or get transferred to a different department, it won’t matter so much because the new boss, as the previous one, had been hired and pre-screened to fit within that culture. And the higher up the position, the more important that fit is.
There are different ways to go about this and it does require a re-allocation of budgeted hours spent on the job hunt. Instead of spending 10 hours a week applying for jobs, consider spending two to three weekly hours doing your research and then the remaining time applying to the right openings.
Consider these steps:
*Read the company website, including the investor, leadership, news and partnerships/philanthropy pages.
*See what the board looks like. Does anyone look like you? If you’re a woman, minority, over 40 or any combination of, is there any representation of that at the board or at the senior level?
*Check on GlassDoor.com for anonymous employee reviews (these tend to be from disgruntled employees, so keep perspective, but also look for themes).
*Go to Yahoo Money (free) or Hoover.com (subscription service) for both company performance and news releases.
*Join industry / professional groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook and ask questions about a specific organization or the kind of professional home you’re looking for.
*Research the local Better Business Bureau.
*Once you get inside the interview chair, trust your intuition about the vibe you get and be sure to ask what happened to the previous person in the role, the rate of promotion and what kind of training the company offers. Ask to have a cup of coffee (or even just a conversation) with direct reports/perspective colleagues and see how tense or comfortable they are telling about their department and the company itself.
*Read the regional and national publications that annually rank various organizations as best places to work.
Just keep in mind that what may be the best place to work for someone with a different set of values may not necessarily be the best fit for you.
Working Girl image: IMDb.com
Alexsandra (Alex) Sukhoy. I’m a writer, marketer and career coach at Creative Cadence LLC, and teach business students at CSU. You can find my first business book, Date Your Career: The Longest Relationship of Your Life, on Amazon. I’m currently writing a film noir screenplay called Cleveland City.
Twitter: @creativecadence. #letstalk