Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Recruiting Advice 101: Why finding the right Company Culture should be the most important part of your job search!

Evan Cobb, Director, People Potential

Rightpoint Careers 1

The Importance of Culture

When a job seeker starts out on their search for the perfect job, after they dust off their resume many questions come to mind. What type of role do I want? What industry do I want to work in? What company do I want to work for? What job boards am I going to search? In many instances the most important question that they should be asking eludes them: What kind of company culture would my ideal company have? That leads us to an important next question. When people say that a company has culture, what exactly does that mean? I have encountered a variety of different corporate cultures in my career that have varied drastically, from large financial institutions, to multi-billion dollar global corporations, to the Digital Agency and IT Consultancy that I am proud to call my home today. I would say that each company had a culture, but culture manifested itself very differently in each. Having a strong culture doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for every company. A strong culture can be deemed good or bad, but culture is in the eye of the beholder. What is “good” for one person might be “bad” for another and vice-versa. That is why each person needs to think about what makes them tick and then find a company where the culture will support that.

Anytime we interview someone at Rightpoint, one of our core areas of focus is culture. But why is this important? Ultimately, we want anyone we hire to be successful and thrive in our culture long-term. If we’re going to do great work and have fun while we are doing it, we want to have people around us who care about doing great work and who embody the core values that our company was built on. In our industry, turnover is notorious. Some surveys indicate employee retention can be as low as 30-40% in some cases. Rightpoint is proud to have a retention rate of over 95% this year. I attribute that in large part to hiring the types of people who are all motivated by similar things and who share core values. At Rightpoint, our core values include Passion, Intrapreneuriship, Learning, Excellence, Integrity, Accountability, and Collaboration. These core values are what drives us as a team and as a business. Finding people who will fit within these core values is critical to our success.

I can tell you from my personal experience that finding good people in the Digital Agency and IT Consulting industries isn’t easy, and finding the RIGHT people who fit the culture adds an extra layer of challenge. That being said, I cannot underscore the importance enough of finding people that fit a company culturally, as that is a key factor in keeping good people for the long haul. We’ve had many interviews where someone may have had the technical skills necessary for a role, but at the end of the day were not the right fit because their core values and the company’s core values didn’t intersect enough. We can further develop technical skills, but we simply can’t “train” someone to fit our culture.

It may be obvious why we want to ensure that each person we hire is a good fit to Rightpoint culturally, but what is equally if not more important is how a job seeker ensures that the culture of any company is the right fit for them. If a company culture isn’t a good fit for someone, it will make it more difficult to enjoy one’s work. While it is not an exact science, I would like to share 5 points for job seekers to consider when evaluating whether a company’s culture is a good match for them (these happen to be similar for job seeker and employer alike). These points are not just relevant to someone interested in working for Rightpoint (Check out if you are though!), but can translate to any company that someone is considering.

#1: Know what makes you passionate

This is a fundamental question for us at Rightpoint. As our co-founder Ross Freedman likes to say, Rightpointer’s have a fire in our belly. It’s something that drives us to do great work, and create something from nothing. It’s an excitement to WOW our clients and a desire to not just settle for something that simply meets expectations. We have found that the people who enjoy working here are people who value being able to ignite their passion. So, ask yourself: What are you passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning fired-up about coming in to work? Or have you never felt that? If you haven’t, why? Passion is obvious. Passion is contagious. Know your passion so you can find a company that will allow you to exercise that passion when you get there.

#2: Discover what the company values

When you are interviewing with a company, it is equally important that you understand what makes their culture unique as it is for them to ensure that you will be successful in that culture. First and foremost, figure out what is most important to you as it relates to a company’s culture. Is it doing great work? Having fun? Volunteering in the community? Intramurals? Social Activities? Work/Life Balance? Structure? Then ask questions that relate to that or simply focus your observations on them. Culture can be represented in the environment itself, the people, and the everyday actions of the company.

#3: Understand what type of environment you will thrive in

To find the right company culture, you need to know yourself. Not everyone does their best work in the same environment. Look at the work environment. Are people collaborating with each other or can you hear a pin drop? Can you put your headphones on and just knock out your work? Is it fast-paced? Do people tend to hang out outside of work or is it a 9-5 and “See you tomorrow!” type of culture? What is the dress-code like? What type of vibe do you get from the physical office space? Is it a cube farm? Are there spaces to collaborate or socialize? What type of energy do you feel from the people at the office? These are a few examples of how environment can impact a culture, so when you come in to interview with a company you need to think about what type of environment you would enjoy most.

#4: Do your research. Period.

This should be a no-brainer for most job seekers, but sadly it is all too common that people come in ill-prepared for their interview. The internet is a goldmine of information. I cannot emphasize enough how doing basic research can tell you a lot about a company’s culture. What do current team members say about the company on Glassdoor or other online venues? What type of work have they done and does that type of work ignite your passion? Look at the company’s website and blogs, what do they tell you about what it would be like to work there? What type of awards/recognition have they received? How is the company regarded in their industry?

#5: Be Yourself

Finding the right company culture for you should be natural. It should not be forced. Be yourself and the right fit will come. Not everyone is going to be the right fit for every company. And that’s OK! Even with all the research you do, and as much as you may decide you “think” that you know what a company wants you to say, it is very obvious when someone is trying to be someone they are not. Interviews are a two-way street. Have fun with them and enjoy. And remember you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you!

As I mentioned before, different people thrive in different cultures. To increase the odds that you’ll enjoy your next job, reflect on the types of company “characteristics” will increase the odds of you thriving and make sure that you evaluate the degree to which a future employer has them.