By Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV
Despite rising unemployment rates across the UK and many organisations still operating with remote workforces, a new study by TopCV finds professionals have a surprising top priority when it comes to finding their next job.
When the CV-writing service asked more than 3,500 UK job seekers between 18 August and 14 September 2020, ‘What matters most to you when deciding which job to take next?’, ‘company culture’ was cited as the most important factor — beating out other considerations such as ‘salary and bonus’, ‘location’ and the ‘day-to-day work’.
In the past, job seekers and employers alike would rely on in-person interviews to assess cultural fit. However, due to Covid-19, many companies are opting for virtual interviews, making this evaluation more challenging. Luckily, there are other methods you can use to determine whether a company will be a good fit.
What does company culture mean to you?
Before you can evaluate a potential employer for cultural fit, you first need to know what you are looking for. While company culture is often tied up in the idea of beer fridges and ping pong tables, there are many other factors that make up a company’s culture. Set popular office perks aside and consider why you’ve enjoyed — or despised — working at other places in the past. What values, beliefs and behaviours had those organisations encouraged or discouraged amongst its employees? Was the organisation known for being ‘family-friendly’ or dedicated to ‘career progression’ for its staff? Did you appreciate how the company handled communication at the start of the pandemic or did your employer’s treatment of its employees during this time prompt you to look for work elsewhere?
Once you have a better idea of what traits you’d like your next company to have, then you can use this new set of criteria to search for potential employers and evaluate new opportunities.
Look for clues online
As you’re finding job adverts that are of interest, visit the organisation’s corporate website — particularly the ‘About Us’ and ‘Careers’ sections — for a closer look. Keep your eyes peeled for videos, employee testimonials, information about the company’s mission and social media accounts that are dedicated to the company’s recruiting efforts. These resources will help you gauge the corporate culture and decide if the company’s work environment — and its values — are right for you. However, be advised that since this content is created by the organisation, you can assume it will paint the employer in the best possible light and omit details about the less appealing parts of the company.
Also, consider the tone and personality that comes across in the employer’s choice of imagery and copy. Are they introducing their executives with cartoon characters or traditional black-and-white head shots? Are you using humour when describing the company or is the language very formal?
Seek out firsthand accounts
To to get a more balanced and realistic take on a potential employer, check out company review sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and WorkAdvisor to learn what the company’s employees are saying about working there. Focus on the reviews that have been written in recent months so you’re getting an accurate picture of what company life is like in the age of Covid-19. Better yet, take to your professional network to find connections who currently work at or recently left that company. These individuals’ insights will help you determine if the company is a good fit and may also help you avoid the CV ‘black hole’, should you decide to apply for a position.
Treat each interview as a two-way street
Sure, you might not be able to take a tour of the office, but there are still ways to learn about a company’s values during the interview process. In addition to your usual preparation for a video interview, create a list of questions you can ask each interviewer that will help you gauge the corporate culture and understand how well — or poorly — the business handled recent events. For example:
- What has been the biggest challenge your organisation has faced since the pandemic began? How has the company responded to these challenges? (e.g. operating hours, staffing levels, budget reductions)
- What is your favourite part about working for this company?
- What personalities tend to be successful here?
- How does the company recognise employee successes?
- How has your team stayed connected whilst working remotely?
Remember, the goal of an interview is to not only convince the interviewer that you’re suitable for the role but to ask questions that will help you decide whether the company and position are right for you. In addition to quizzing your interviewers, reflect on how the interview-scheduling process went. Did the recruiter give you enough notice so you could clear your diary, or did they expect you to be available straight away? Also, how did the interview go? Was the hiring manager on time for the interview? Did they seem prepared to go through your CV or were they distracted? What types of questions did they ask? How were you treated throughout the process? How an employer acts during the interview is likely indicative of how they treat their employees.
Trust your gut
You might not be able to gauge how well you’re received by the receptionist in the waiting room or have the luxury of touring the company’s offices, but you can still investigate a potential employer from the safety of your home. Use these tips above to determine whether a particular job opportunity is a good match for your values, personality and preferred work style. Above all, trust your gut — if something feels off, don’t ignore your instincts.
About the author
Amanda Augustine is the resident careers expert for TopCV, the world’s largest CV-writing service. With 15 years of experience in the recruiting and career services industry, she is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), helping professionals improve their careers and find the right job sooner. Follow Amanda at @JobSearchAmanda and on Facebook for her latest advice.
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