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How a Culture-First Perspective Can Improve Your Job Search

Estimated reading time ~ 4 min
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It is common for people to jump into their job search head first, prioritizing things such as titles, salary, and location. You can find a new job title at any company, but do you know what isn't available everywhere? A strong culture. A positive workplace culture can impact every facet of your employee experience, including upward mobility, mental health and long term career path. In fact, in a study by Radford University, researchers found that employees who fit well into a company's culture perform better at work, experience higher levels of job satisfaction, and are less likely to leave.

That's why I recommend that job seekers reprioritize their job search values and focus on organizations where they see themselves fitting in well. Allowing you to make your best contribution, no matter how challenging the role may be.

What are your values?

“Company culture” can mean many different things, so it’s important to understand what YOU value in the workplace. When searching for a new role, be sure to do your research and identify companies that will align with what you are looking for in an ideal work environment. Whatever your personal values, when looking for a new role, I recommend considering two cultural characteristics; communication and collaboration.

Communication and collaboration can be powerful indicators for company culture. Here are some ways to assess communication and collaboration of your future workplace along with practical tips for deciding if a potential workplace is the right place for you.

How to assess a company’s communication practices:

Check the job description for signs of healthy communication.

A company’s communication practices, attitudes and expectations for their employees can be recognized from the very first communication shared by the employer, the job description.

Thoroughly scan a company's job descriptions for signs of open communication. For example, if diversity is important to you, how often is it mentioned in the job description? How diverse is the leadership team or the team you will be working with? If flexibility is something you hope to find in your new role, does the job description include a heavy list of tasks and responsibilities that may not allow for work-life balance?

How an organization communicates both their needs and company norms should be found in their job descriptions. If you don’t understand what the culture is like after reading the description, then it is likely the organization struggles with communication.

During the interview, try to get a sense of how communication is conducted.

It’s important to remember that interviews are not just about impressing potential employers, it’s about collecting valuable information to help you make an informed decision. Take advantage of the interview process to try and get a clearer view on the company's communication style. Anyone looking to learn about an organization’s communication practices should ask these two questions regarding internal communication in the workplace:

  • Can you provide details about your current methods of internal communications?
  • How do employees get the information they need to thrive in their roles?

How to assess a company’s collaboration practices:

A collaborative culture is one where collaboration is steady and deliberate. In these environments, getting things done isn't hard because collaboration is easy and rewarding. Productive collaboration in the workplace is a work style that helps employees work together to achieve a common goal in ways that benefit a company and its employees.

Before the interview, you can evaluate workplace collaboration by connecting with a current employee.

Send a simple LinkedIn message to someone from the company you are looking to join to connect over a 15-minute call. Ask questions and take note of the aspects in the job where they express frustration or excitement. Identifying both the highlights and pain points will help you focus on the right things during the interview. You can also gauge your level of comfort collaborating in this work environment, regardless of whether teams are stationed at an office or working remotely.

During the interview, discover whether collaboration is easy or challenging.

As I mentioned above, the interview is your chance to collect valuable information. Consider asking these two questions regarding cross-functional internal communication at work:

  • Can you tell me about a time where you had to collaborate with someone outside of your team? What were the outcomes of that project?
  • What is most challenging about collaborating cross-functionally at this company?

Effective internal communication is critical for successful collaboration at work. By communicating effectively, colleagues gain a deeper understanding of each other's ideas, opinions, and objectives, leading to better problem-solving. If collaboration is the vehicle that drives people to think outside the box and find creative solutions to problems, then effective internal communication is the fuel that improves productivity and efficiency across teams.

No company can run successfully without effective communication and collaboration in the workplace. A company's culture should maximize the possibilities of success by administering a robust communicative and collaborative experience across the organization. As one of the most important factors affecting a company's success, culture plays a significant role in the overall productivity, morale, and engagement of its employees. Taking a culture first approach to your job search can help you gain a better understanding of a company’s culture before making a decision to join them. Good luck on your search!

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