Q. I’m looking at a job offer from Mega Company that sounds absolutely perfect for me. A big step up: exciting challenges, salary increase, even a good location. But … I’m wondering if I’m missing something. I want to land in a place where I can stay awhile.
A. Good question! The ONE question most job-changers skip is, “Will I fit into the culture?”
And that question can be the make-or-break point for your new career. Even the most competent professional can be challenged to perform effectively when she’s labeled a misfit or he’s branded as an outsider. Here’s a checklist for you to consider:
(1) How did you feel during the interview? Did you find your stomach clenching? Did all the wrong words come out of your mouth? Or were you relaxed – maybe even sorry to say good-by at the end of the day?
(2) How did the office look? Clean desks or clutter? Casual dress or formal?
(3) Was your interview smooth? Were you left sitting by yourself when someone was late?
(4) How do your future colleagues behave outside the office setting?
People tend to let down their guard when they leave an organizational setting. It’s harder to maintain a false good impression outside of the artificial interview situation. Especially note how they treat the staff at restaurants.
(5) Can you uncover people who know employees of your future company?
Mention the company’s name everywhere you go. You may be surprised to find someone who’s got a friend of a friend at your future company. You may even be able to ask questions like, “What type of boss is Ms. Smith?”
The most reassuring responses are glowing. Neutral or lukewarm comments are probably negative.
(6) Can you google some of your future colleagues?
So many people have websites, LinkedIn profiles and blogs these days. You can get a ton of competitive intelligence. Recently a friend told me she was moving to a new job. She gave me the names of her boss and boss’s boss…and there they were, front and center on LinkedIn.
Of course in some conservative industries, you may be dealing with luddites who still live in the Dark Ages. You have to ask, “Do I want to work there? Will I become less marketable?”
In other fields, you’ll find people who share a lot more than they should.
I’ve helped many mid-life career changers explore their next step. I can be a sounding board to help you evaluate the culture objectively.
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