Make no mistake about it: finding a job is tricky business. You search online job boards, go to career fairs, network with your connections—all hoping that you’ll find the right job for you. When you find one, then you’ve got to determine if you’re qualified. Then, do you have the necessary knowledge and skills to do the work?
On top of that, you’ve got to have the passion for the work. Do you care enough about the material and duties of the position to do a good job? Can you align with the values of the organization? Do you and the employer see eye to eye on what’s most important about work, life, and what’s ahead?
That last piece, a values alignment, is something many people refer to as a “culture fit.” That is to say—do the employees at that organization care about the same things you care about? Will you get along?
You likely hear a lot about work culture: organizations where people bring dogs to work, play ping pong in the middle of the workday, have paid time off to do community service together. It can be hard to add all of this into the equation when you job search. Sometimes, you’re more concerned with earning a paycheck and want to get on in the “real world.”
But, this notion of culture is an essential one to consider, as sometimes it can make or break your happiness at work. When you’re happy, you are more likely to do well at your job, making you more successful. Caring about your happiness and fit at the workplace isn’t just for the “feel good” types. It makes economical sense for everyone involved.
So, how do you find the right workplace culture for you? Luckily for you, there’s social media: an interactive way to learn about and communicate with an organization in real time.
Here are some tips to start exploring culture on these networks:
- Like the organization’s Facebook page. You’ll not only get the organization’s updates in your Newsfeed, but you’ll also likely find videos and photos that will help you visualize their work. Don’t think recruiting happens on Facebook? Forbes recently published a story about companies like Pepsi, Gap, AIG and more who use the social networking giant as a recruiting tool.
- Have you heard about Facebook’s new Graph Search? It’s a way to search for things through your friends and connections. To find out about the culture of an organization, look at its people. Using Graph Search, you could type in “People who work at _________” in the top bar and you’d find all of their employees (as reported by what is in their “About” sections) who are in your network. See if the employees are people like you.
- Follow the organization’s Twitter account and you’ll get to know all that’s happening up to the second. If the organization has an account focused on recruiting, follow that, too. Often times these accounts have the company’s name and the word “careers” in the handle. Take one step further and look at the account’s Twitter Lists (here’s what Lists are) – the Lists could help you find other organizational accounts or even some of its people to follow.
- Search for people talking about the organization. Type the organization’s name in the search box (tip: use quotes around the whole name if it’s more than one word) and see what people are saying about the company. You don’t even have to be on Twitter for this one: search Twitter anytime by going to search.twitter.com
- Follow the organization’s “Company Page” by searching its name in LinkedIn’s search bar (here’s a little more about Company Searches). See how the organization describes itself and what they talk about in status updates. When you land on the organization’s page, dig a little deeper by clicking on the “Insights” tab. Here, you’re able to investigate where people worked before they came to that organization and even who is getting promoted.
- Check out the people in your network who work there. On the Company Page for each organization, you’ll see the “How You’re Connected” area. Click there to find out who’s in your network that works there. Then, check out things like their groups or interests in their profiles to see what you might have in common.
When it comes to finding the right job for you, your skills and interests are important indicators of how well you’ll be able to do and how much you’ll enjoy doing it. Just keep in mind that the company you keep at the company where you work is also a factor in your happiness and success.
Kevin Grubb is a career counselor, social media consultant, and speaker on the subject of social media & careers. He teaches a college course he created called Social Networking: Creating Your Professional Identity, and serves as the moderator for LinkedIn’s Career Services Professionals webinars, helping to share ideas with colleagues about best practices for using LinkedIn on college/university campuses.
Kevin is also a contributing writer of the “Tech Talk” column for the National Association of Colleges & Employers "Spotlight Online" publication, a featured speaker at conferences, colleges, and universities, and was named a top “Gen Y Careerist to Follow on Twitter” on Brazen Careerist. Learn more about Kevin and contact him at www.kevincgrubb.com