When looking for a job it is important to consider not only what you want to do but where you want to do it. Companies are going to great lengths to attract and retain employees through a wide variety of employee benefits and perks. It is hard not to be impressed by the on-site gym with yoga classes and a rock-climbing wall, free massages, free food, cafeterias that look like a 5 star restaurant, and take your dog to work days. Some companies even offer employee concierge service to pick-up your laundry, get your oil changed, and any other miscellaneous errand that will make your life easier.
However, too often job seekers mistake benefits and perks with corporate culture. Check out any number of “Best Places to Work” lists and you will see accolades for a company’s numerous perks and benefits. A company’s culture is oftentimes reflected in the perks they offer employees but certainly not defined by them.
Corporate culture is intangible and hard to define. It is a compilation of the company’s size, industry, beliefs, values, processes, people, and history. It is the personality of the company. Not to mention the fact that more important than any perk is what YOU need and what makes YOU happy. Trouble is, that can be equally as intangible and hard to define.
When working with clients I always ask, “What are you looking for in a company?”. Far too few have an answer. I would argue that answering this question is one of the most important steps in your job search. Knowing what you need and what makes you happy will help you not only know what you are looking for in a company but will help you evaluate whether or not a company’s culture suits you.
I believe there is no better way to judge how well a company’s personality fits you than by examining your own personality. What are your interests, passions, style and values? For example:
- Do you like to make decisions quickly and act on them? Then a smaller, more nimble company may be best for you.
- Do you need structure, processes and guidance? Then a larger company with a formal training program may be right for you.
It is also important to recognize that your needs may evolve as you move through your career and life. If you are just starting out, perhaps a large company with a strong mentor network and history of advancing their employees is what you need. If you are a new parent perhaps a flexible work schedule and on-site childcare will make you happy.
Personally I’ve worked in large companies to start-ups with varying corporate cultures and luckily found what I needed to make me happy in most of them. I’ve had access to video game rooms, ping-pong tables, shuffleboard, gyms, on-site free massages, and beautiful offices with designer furniture. Yet, while nice to have, none of those things made me happy or gave me what I needed. For me it has always been about the relationships. I have been fulfilled and happy in my work because of the fabulous people I get to work with and for. I need and am motivated by interacting with others (classic extrovert but we will save that analysis for another time). Regardless of the company size or perks, I look for a company that values collaboration, rewards not only individual but collective achievements, is supportive and friendly, and where everyone is enthusiastically working toward and invested in shared goals.
So, how does an extrovert who is motivated by relationships run a two-person company and work from home? I do miss my numerous co-workers and bosses. I miss contributing to broad team efforts. I miss hearing about my friends’ lives on a Starbucks run. However, I have everything I need and everything I look for in a company. I get to work with an amazing business partner with whom I can brainstorm as we enthusiastically work toward our shared goals. I collaborate with amazing clients, schools, universities and companies and celebrate our individual and collective accomplishments. I am blessed to meet and work with inspiring young adults and their wonderful supportive families. Plus, at this point in my career and life I need to challenge myself to try new things. I need the freedom to build strategic initiatives and execute my ideas. Our two-person company has everything I need to be happy! I’ll admit, there is one company perk that I truly value…Take Your Dog To Work Day, EVERYDAY!
Chloe at the office