Jan 24, 2023
Unsatisfied with your job? It could be the company culture.
Company culture is the values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and standards employees share as part of an organization. Culture is like the ‘personality traits’ of the company and how people do things around the workplace. Those personality traits influence people’s reactions to change, how they feel about their work, and how they behave and interact with each other.
Maybe you joined a company because you heard they have a good culture. After a few months on the job, you see that people don’t practice what they preach. Or the ‘good culture’ isn’t in alignment with your values, beliefs, and behaviors. What is good for one person may not be good for you. For example, you like team collaboration, but the culture is competitive.
Finding a good company culture is essential if you work in a toxic work environment. Before you apply for a job, practice my 3 Rs to help you find a good company culture.
Step 1 – Research
Avoid applying for a job before learning about the company. Here are some things to keep in mind when researching a company:
Read as much information as possible about the company online
Go to the company website and check what they say about culture (mission, vision, etc.)
Read their LinkedIn page. What are they posting about? What are they engaging with?
Search for review websites and see what people are saying about the company
After your research, ask yourself these questions:
Do I see any red flags?
Do I have a must-have item on my job search list that doesn’t align with the company?
Must-have items are a few things that you can’t negotiate because they are essential and align with your values, beliefs, etc. Reflect on your must-haves and good-to-haves. If something is a good-to-have, evaluate how not having that item would impact your decision to work for a company.
Research helps you get a sense of the culture before applying for the job, and it’s an essential step to set you up for success.
Step 2 - Reach out
After your research, reach out to a few people at the company you are applying to and ask one or two culture-related questions that are crucial for you to accept a job offer. It’s time to use LinkedIn to your advantage.
Reach out to 5 or more people working at the prospective company.
Send people a personalized message on LinkedIn: introduce yourself briefly, and explain your interest in working at their company. Type the message with positive words as if you were writing it for yourself. Here’s an example:
We haven’t met, but I see you work in HR for ABC company. I’m an HR professional seeking my next role. I’m learning more about ABC before I apply for the HR specialist position. I read a lot about the company but couldn’t find the answer to these two questions. Would you please help me?
- How is the work environment at ABC company?
- Is the HR team onsite or remote?
I’d greatly appreciate your reply.
Thank you so much for your time.
Here are additional questions you can ask, but don’t ask more than two questions in your first message.
Does the company offer flexible work arrangements?
How has been your experience with this company?
What attributes and qualities someone needs to thrive at this company?
Do you see career growth and development opportunities?
It’s best to reach out to at least 5 people because you may only get one or two responses. If the person replies, be courteous and thank them. Based on how they respond, you could ask one more question. Otherwise, thank them again, and move on.
Not everyone will reply to your message. Avoid taking that personally because people don’t know you and may not feel comfortable sharing how they feel about their company. You don’t know what people are going through.
Another alternative is to reach out to former employees on LinkedIn with the same questions. Avoid asking why they left the company on that first message. People may not feel comfortable with the question and delete your message. Remember, they don’t know you.
Step 3 - Review
Before applying for the job, review steps 1 and 2 for answers. If you feel good about the information, move forward with your application. You can still apply for the job even if you aren’t 100% sure about a few things and ask questions during the interview.
The third step helps you ask about the company culture with the hiring manager/team members during the interview process. You may not get to this step with every job application, even if you took steps 1 and 2. The 3 Rs method can't guarantee a job offer, but you’ll be prepared to ask specific questions during the interview to help you decide your next steps.
During the interview, you’ll likely have questions unrelated to culture. Choose a few culture questions that are must-haves for you. Here are some examples:
Are there opportunities or programs that support professional development?
What challenges is the company experiencing now?
What has been a challenge for the team in the past?
How do you like to provide feedback?
Is this a collaborative work environment?
What kind of personalities tend to do well on this team?
What is your management style?
How do you expect employees to handle work-life balance?
How do you onboard new hires to the team?
You can ask follow-up questions based on the answers from the hiring manager/team members. After the interview, it’s time to review steps 1, 2, and 3 together. During the interview, did you see or hear any red flags in their answers? Do you still have doubts?
If something isn’t clear, ask about it when you send a post-interview thank you note.
Reflect on these questions after the interview:
How do you feel after meeting with the hiring manager and team members?
If you have a virtual interview, did you pick up any cues or red flags?
If the interview was onsite, did they seem rushed or not into the conversation? Did you get good vibes from them?