Currently all we hear about in recruitment and job search is that clients are looking for the right ‘fit’ – or that candidates are declined as they weren’t the right ‘fit’. But wtf does that actually mean, should you be offended and how do you know when you accept a role that it is the right fit for you?

Organisational culture encompasses values and behaviours that “contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation”.

Do you feel part of the ‘in crowd’?

Think of how you are outside work. Do you engage with people well, and make friends easily – are you sociable?

Now think of your job. Do you lack confidence to engage with people in non-work-related conversations, is it difficult to have a laugh with them, and are you invited to things they all do outside of work together? Do you find yourself thinking that they’re all dicks??

If you feel isolated more often than part of the team, then this is a sign you’re probably in the wrong culture. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, some people like to separate work/personal life and that’s OK, but if you feel uncomfortable being your authentic self, then you should probably consider a change.

It’s more than just personal

If you don’t feel like a part of the team, but you still get joy from your physical work, and are seeing the results you want from that, then great. But if you don’t, have a think about why.

Do you contribute at meetings? If you do, good on you, but think about how you feel when you do. Does it give you a sense of inclusion (yay!), or do you feel your face burning and swear you’re never going to do it again? If your answer is the latter, then it’s only a matter of time before the impact of this starts hindering your career progression.

You were chosen from a number of others to win that role. You should expect to be good enough to be heard. Maybe that particular contribution wasn’t your best, but everyone deserves an equal chance to be heard in an open culture. If you see self-doubt creeping in regarding your input, then you’re probably in the wrong place.

Where’s the motivation at??

If you enjoy what you do, and the responsibilities and rewards from your position are exactly where you want to be, then why don’t you feel motivated? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel inspired by management?
  • Does the company recognise, reward and celebrate success in a way which is in line with your expectations?
  • Do you feel that, on average, everyone puts in the same level of work?
  • Is management invested in helping you develop your career?
  • Do you care about the values, purpose and overall goals of the business?

If you answered ‘no’ to more than one of these questions, you need to consider if this culture is viable for you. Once your motivation starts dropping, it’s very hard to pick it back up. And when that happens, most often the first (and only) one to suffer is you. Think about leaving before it changes your way of thinking or impacts your career goals.

So what next?

Company culture is essentially the personality of the business. You can’t like and be liked by everyone. So, as per our first paragraph – should you be offended, or feel ashamed? Absolutely not. However, do treat it as a learning curve for your own development. Think carefully about what is and isn’t important to you and make sure that is the focus of your job search:

  • Identify the type of culture that you’re looking for – the level of inclusion there, what they offer in terms of career progression and how they recognise and celebrate the wins. Work out everything you didn’t like about this company – constructively and professionally and figure out what needs to be different in the next one.
  • Be honest with your recruiter. If they tell you a company is very sociable and you don’t want that, tell them. We know our clients and their cultures pretty well, and we’ll work with you to find the right fit. It’s in our best interest too.
  • Before you go to an interview, prepare. A lot. Read the website thoroughly, take notes, write down questions you have. Read their blogs, trawl their social media. All of this gives a really good example of their culture.
  • During your interviews, dig for more information. Don’t just sit there telling them what they want to hear. Prompt them, ask them to explain their team dynamic and how they develop their staff or celebrate their successes.

And if you are declined on fit, don’t take it to heart. They know their team and attitude, and they’re helping you dodge a bullet. But in all honesty, your recruiter should have known that…