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Organizational Culture and Finding a Job

(Dean Waggenspack is a Career and Life Coach and a member of the Job Seekers team for the Dayton Metro Library. Below is a great review of a recent Job Seekers meeting that describes the insights and information that can be gained by attending these meetings. Dean regularly shares his thoughts on his blog.)

I was at a Job Seeker’s Meeting last week and was struck by the simplicity of a message. That message made me pose a question to the audience about their preferences for organizational culture as opposed to the “perfect job” or the “right pay”. I believe it has deep implications for anyone trying to decide “what’s next”.

The meeting had a HR representative from Caterpillar Corp talking about their HR hiring process and tips for job seekers. The striking message was as follows. Caterpillar has a person read every resume submitted for a position, not an Applicant Tracking System. If you get an interview with Caterpillar, they will have all of the decision makers involved. They will also take you on a tour of the building so that you can get a feel for what goes on there. All interviewees are contacted, in person, to tell them if they are going to be offered a job or not. My recollection was that this contact was either always on the phone or highly encouraged to be on the phone, I can’t remember this detail for certain.
So that led to my first question for the assembled group. How many of you had Caterpillar on your list of companies to work for? After all, they are in a rather mundane industry – large construction equipment. I do not think anyone had considered them. In fact, the HR representative from Caterpillar said she never thought she would work for the company either.

My second question was this. Would you be willing to take a lower paying job or one that was not quite what you have listed as a dream job to work for a company that cares about its people – and the people that interview with it? So many people have experienced (and rightfully complained about) companies that “never get back to you”. Many had stories of companies that took a long time after interviews, often not even communicating that the person was not selected for the job. They feel like a pawn in a game.

That gets to an important lesson from the day. Culture matters. Culture is what we all deal with, daily. In the end, I would argue it is more important than what the organization does for profit. It probably is more important than the specific tasks you are asked to do. If you are having fun, working in a positive place, or being around people who are pleasant every day, you are probably enjoying work.

Doesn’t that sound like the right thing to do?

Think about the job application process today.  First, a person finds a job they might be interested in. If done right, that person spends a great deal of time and effort applying for a job. They tailor their resume for the job description. They probably write a cover letter. Most of the time, an applicant will do some research to see if they know anyone at the company. They might even do some research on the company’s website. Multiply this time the number of jobs most people apply for and the hours add up to a very large number.

What if you changed this model a bit? Spend time trying to find out about a company’s culture might be a much better use of time. Why not? You might find a Caterpillar. And a job that fits you way more than the “ideal”.

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