In last week’s post, as I was talking about job descriptions, I asked a question I feel is key to a successful job search:
“Do you like the company because of it’s culture, creation, community, calling, or some other aspect? Are you intrigued enough to want to find out more? “
Too often when we’re looking for a new job, our search turns into a veritable “race to the bottom” – looking for (and accepting) whatever job opportunity answers first with a salary or other set of conditions we consider tolerable.
I understand and sympathize with folks who, especially in these days of mass layoff announcements every week (or more). Sometimes the job you want is whatever job you can get.
Even when you are panic-applying to every single job that fits the bill, I’d still like to suggest you take a moment and reflect on the type of company you’d LIKE to work at. What kind of place would allow you to thrive and grow?
That question, in and of itself, is often not enough to help lead you to an answer. Which takes me back to the idea from last week’s post.
Think about the type of company culture you would enjoy. One example I mention often is Patagonia. Yes, they make and sell clothing. But what people often comment on is the company’s committment to teamwork, balance, and health among it’s employees.
How about the community around the company? One example is the NFL. Another is Taylor Swift. (it’s ironic that, as I write this, those two entities have never been more closely linked than they are because of Tay’s relationship with Travis Kelce). In both cases you, yourself, may not be all that interested in football (or Taylor Swift songs. But honestly, what’s wrong with you?!?) But the chance to enable those fans (and superfans) to be part of such a powerful community might be exciting for you.
There’s also the company’s “calling” – it’s mission – that’s worth considering. The example I use (and I’ve written about this before) is Crayola. My personal version of their mission statement is: “We provide the tools for humans of all ages to realize their most creative selves. If that means creating markers that wrok on on windows, we’ll make them. If it requires foaming bathtub soap, we’re here for it. Oh, and we also make little sticks of colored wax.” That’s a mission I would love to be part of.
And of course there’s the creation (i.e. product) itself. When I bring up this point, everyone immediately mentions Apple. And they’re not wrong. Those products are beloved by millions. But I also think of Pixar. I’d be willing to sweep floors if it meant I could be that close to the people creating those stories, and lots of folks I talk to agree.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting everyone literally apply to Patagonia, the NFL, etc. I’m saying you should take a moment and think about those companies, products, brands, and communities that engage and excite you. The ones that you have a natural affinity for if not a loyalty to.
I also want to state that often, this is a case of “never meet your heroes.” I know more than one person who has pursued a job at their so-called “dream company”, only to get into the interview process and discover and ugly underbelly to the entire organization.
While that’s certainly disappointing, it’s also OK. Not every company is perfect, not every job is for every person, and sometimes you realize you’re OK with being a consumer of a brand and not a producer. And there are just as many cases where folks pursue a job at the company and find out it’s every bit as wonderful as they’d heard (and hoped).
Which is a huge benefit if interest leads to an interview. Because in an interview, that level of interest, involvement, and passion is something that cannot be faked and also can’t be taught. You might not have all the skills on the checklist, but most hiring managers will notice (and choose) someone who expresses interest in the actual company and what they do.
If you are looking for your next job, do yourself a favor and take a moment to think about your fandoms, favorites, and things that tickle your fancy.
Then google their careers page, and take a chance. You never know where it might lead.