How to Tell if that Job’s Culture is Right for You
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You know company culture is a big deal. Itâs one of the main ways companies distinguish themselves from one another, which is why youâre probably constantly hearing about it. Tech companies and startups in particular always seem to be trying to outdo the competition in terms of a cool culture full of workplace perks (like these!).But before you get lured in to a new job because of ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs, you have to figure out if that culture is actually going to be one where you can be happy and successful.Do some digging to figure out what, exactly, the company culture is, and then sit down to think about whether itâs the right environment for you. Hereâs what to consider before you accept a job offer.
What Motivates You?For some people, a beautiful office with floor-to-ceiling windows does wonders for their productivity. For others, what the office looks like hardly matters so long as there are smart people to exchange ideas with.To figure out what type of environment really motivates you, think about a time when you were extremely productive. What was special about that situation? Were you working alone or with others? Did you have a looming deadline or generous time freedom? Were you dealing with people or with the product? Ask yourself these questions and more. Then, do the same thing, but with a situation in which you were horribly unproductive.In short, try to pinpoint what helps you do your best work (and your worst). Having an idea about what is right for you and then seeing if it aligns with what your prospective employer has to offer is the first step in deciding whether this new job is for you or not.
What Makes You Happy?What makes you happy at work and what motivates you can sometimes be pretty similar. Autonomy, for example, could cover both. But thatâs not always the case. Working under pressure, for instance, might motivate you, but it might not be something that you particularly enjoy.For people who have had the luxury of working in a place that they loved, it might be easy to figure out exactly what makes them happy at work. For others, itâll probably take more work. In that case, it might help to work backward and think about what makes you unhappy. Are you super cranky in the morning? Maybe you would appreciate a later start or more flexible schedule. Is your day incomplete without witty banter about the current state of American politics? Knowing the interests of your colleagues will be important in your decision. Do you feel like an empty husk of a person if you canât get in a quick run in the middle of the day? A company that incorporates exercise in its work week might just be the thing for you.Itâs easy to be dazzled by perks like catered lunches and beer on tap, but donât let them tempt you into a workplace that is actually ill-suited for maximizing your own personal happiness.
What Is the Lifestyle Fit?Youâve gone through the whole interview process, and presumably the hiring manager believes you are a good cultural fit. Now itâs your turn to see if the position is a good fit for your life. The job can be fantastic, but if it ends up being really taxing on the lifestyle you want, it could be a bigger problem that you realize.It turns out, company culture has a surprising amount of impact on your lifestyle. For example, the culture might be that no one leaves before the CEO or that everyone gets kicked out of the building at 6 PM. Or it might be that everyone bonds over daily catered mealsâwhich sounds nice, unless youâd rather spend breakfast and dinner with your family. When youâre thinking about company culture, itâs not just what will keep you happy at workâitâs also what will keep you happy at home. Donât neglect that bit.In the end, this has been a longwinded way of saying that finding the right company culture for you comes down to understanding what your career values are (more on that here). It might seem awfully self-important to consider all this before accepting a job offer, especially if youâve just gone through a grueling job search, but realistically youâll be on the job market a lot sooner than youâd like to be if you donât think about the type of environment in which youâll be happy and successful. So, go aheadâbe a little self-indulgent and think about what you really want in a company culture. Just think of it as doing future-you a favor.
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