As we’ve offered in the previous two blogs about finding the “right” workplace cultural fit for you, we have identified eight clues to assist you in increasing your odds by doing the necessary discovery work to find out more about the organization you’ve targeted.
Clue #3 – Check out others’ views!
As with many areas of life, we can learn a great deal from others. Of course that takes a desire to seek out information, along with a need to filter through what we see and hear to determine how to best apply the information to ourselves.
Checking out others’ views on the organization you’ve targeted is no different in the approach and the filtering you’ll need to apply. Seeking it out through the best sources available, filtering it for truth, and determining applicability are all part of the process. As I’ve often shared with my kids, particularly as young adults going through full-blown “adulting” in their employment experiences: “All feedback is useful…it may not be accurate, but it is always useful.” That is, we can use all the information we uncover in some way. It just may not be the way in which it first appears to apply.
Two popular sources to check out others’ views on workplace culture are the Glassdoor and Vault (recently acquired by Firsthand) websites. Both of these offer past and present employee perspectives on organizations, along with many other services to support people in transition. These perspectives can cover topics such as compensation, quality of life, career development, and business outlook.
For example, here’s a post I copied from Firsthand’s quality of life section regarding a certain financial services company: “Great flexibility in terms of when we choose to come into the office and leave. Work from home flexibility is also great. Worst aspect is the unavoidable late nights when a deadline needs to be hit and a lot of work is jammed at once.”
Glassdoor gives the job seeker the opportunity to compare companies. When I plugged in two healthcare companies, I was shown a comparison chart with employee ratings (from 1-5) on topics ranging from company culture to senior management to compensation.
Opportunities to seek out Information
On both websites, plenty of opportunities exist to dive deep and seek out information. Here are a few cautions for you along the way in your quest:
- Anonymity – Because both websites (and others) allow a person to post whatever they want anonymously, there’s no accountability for what is posted. Take everything with a grain of salt.
- Data points – No one employee has the complete view of an organization, just as you in your search don’t either, so don’t let the informational clues you encounter be the primary source for your decision-making of whether you’re a fit or not. Instead, these are merely additional data points for you to factor into your overall decision process (let’s get you through all 8 clues).
- Motivation – Remember the old adage, “Someone’s got an axe to grind.” Odds are high you’ll see that in some of the posts (see first two bullets).
- Gossip? – Because there’s no way to tell whether these posts are absolutely true, they can easily take on the form of gossip. And we know that gossip is not a healthy base of information on which to rely.
As you go through this process and consider what others have to say, I’d encourage you to keep Ephesians 5:15-16 in mind: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Checking out others’ views is useful…perhaps not accurate, but it can be very useful to triangulate what you learn about your target company’s culture along the way.
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.