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How to tell if a company's culture is right for you

Rich Hein | April 8, 2015
You want to work where you are inspired to do your best and appreciated by your colleagues and manager. However, that kind of fit doesn’t happen by chance. Find out what it takes to target the right job, company and culture.


CIO has covered almost every aspect of the job-search process from acing the technical interview to getting past applicant tracking systems to networking your way into your next job, but how do you figure out if a company's culture is the right fit before you accept a job offer? We asked recruiters, CIOs and career coaches to share advice to help you decide for yourself if an organization is one you'll flourish in or one you should pass on.

The right fit
Company culture is a funny thing. It could be the engine that drives your passion or it could be the thing that crushes your spirit and keeps you up at night. Figuring out if it's one of these extremes or somewhere in between before you take the job is a tough task, but one worth undertaking. Choosing an organization without considering how you fit into their culture is a formula for disaster.

"It is important for someone to learn about an organization's culture prior to accepting a position. Culture is a large variable that influences overall employee engagement and the longevity that individuals stay with an organization. If it is not the right culture fit, someone is unlikely to be contributing their best and their tenure will likely be short," says Kristin Darby, CIO at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

What corporate culture is and what it shouldn't be
"Organizations define culture differently, and often, incorrectly. Culture should be comprised of a shared vision, defined understanding of the best fit traits of successful employees and core values that unite a company to think and work as a team with a well understood method of the best way to achieve their shared goal. Too often though companies define their culture more by their perks offered or by what I term 'the frat' mentality -- meaning if you look, act and have the same interests as the team," says Ed Nathanson, founder of Red Pill Talent, LLC.

Start your investigation early
Experts agree that job seekers should be thinking about culture fit before they even apply for a job. "Too many candidates allow the company to be the one driving the interview process. In reality, the candidate should be interviewing the company as well. After all, the whole point is that you are entering into a mutually beneficial relationship," says Stephen Van Vreede, personal brand strategist and job search agent for IT, Technical and STEM careers with ITTechExec .

Know what's important to you
This is an essential part of the process, because if you don't know what's important to you than it will be next to impossible to decide where you fit in. Knowing what best motivates and inspires you will go a long way to making a solid choice. Some people can focus right in on this, others have to think and work at it.


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