By Ashley Cullins
What factors do you normally consider during a job search?
If you’re like most people, you immediately thought of salary (the bigger the better), benefits (yes, please), and factors like location and job duties.
These considerations are important, but you can’t forget company culture. Although it’s often overlooked, company culture is the #1 factor in overall job satisfaction. Yes, even more than pay.
So, what is company culture? And why is it so important? Here’s a quick education.
What Is Company Culture?
Company culture is made up of factors like mission, values, expectations, goals, and work environment.
You can think of company culture as a company’s “personality.” While some organizations are warm and laidback, others are fast-paced and competitive. Some are more mission-driven than others. And for every company encouraging work-life balance and occasional fun, there’s a company expecting employees to make their career the priority.
Why Does Company Culture Matter to your Job Search?
Imagine being forced to spend eight hours of your day with someone you just don’t “click” with. Doesn’t sound very fun, does it? Similarly, you don’t want to devote 40 hours a week to a company when it isn’t the right culture fit for you.
And it’s not just that poor culture fit is a drag. It also has a negative impact on your happiness, productivity, and performance. When your needs and values align with your company’s culture, you’re more likely to enjoy your work. You’ll build better relationships with your coworkers and become more efficient and productive.
The impact of company culture even spreads beyond the workplace. You spend so much time at work that an unhealthy work environment (and the resulting stress) is bad for your physical health and personal relationships. If you think company culture isn’t important for your overall well-being, think again.
Naturally, employers love employees who are a good culture fit because those employees perform better and stay longer. So, it only makes sense to apply to tech jobs with a company culture that resonates with you.
Company Culture and Tech Companies
Although many tech companies have reputations for fun, collaborative, and casual cultures, it’s important to know cultures vary in reality. In a 2018 study, 52% of tech employees described their workplaces as toxic. Even the big players like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Uber have faced highly publicized scrutiny over workplace practices and culture.
You can’t assume all tech company cultures are created equal. It’s important to think about your values and preferences, do your research, ask the right questions in interviews, and find a company that’s right for you.
What Type of Company Culture Is Right for You?
To answer this question, first consider what type of environment you would thrive in. Traditional or innovative? Collaborative or competitive? Ping pong tables or 401ks?
Are opportunities for ongoing training and professional development important to you? Do you want to socialize with your coworkers in an open office space, or do you prefer some privacy? Do the company’s values and mission matter to you?
Imagine a day at your ideal workplace, and jot down a few key qualities of this dream company. You might not find a place that has it all, but keeping this vision in mind will help you land a job that’s right for you.
How to Research Company Culture
Now you have an idea of the type of culture that appeals to you, but how do you evaluate for it during your job search?
Start by reading the company’s website and browsing their social media accounts. Pay attention to the tone, description of mission and values, and any testimonials from employees.
You can also find employee reviews on job search websites like Glassdoor. Publications like Entrepreneur and Business Insider also compile rankings of companies with the best culture. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find a ranking of local companies known for quality culture.
Of course, it’s also helpful to go straight to the source. Do you know anyone who works for the company? Can you reach out to someone on LinkedIn or in your alumni network? Get some firsthand insight on what it’s like to work at the company you’re considering.
The interview is another way to get a feel for company culture. Pay attention to the questions you’re asked and the overall “vibe.” If you get to walk around the office and meet people, pay attention to the day-to-day office dynamics.
Once it’s your chance to pose questions at the interview, ask about factors important to you like what the average day looks like, what opportunities for professional development are offered, or the ratio of independent work to teamwork.
At the end of the day, a job is more than just a paycheck. It’s where you spend a major chunk of your time, so you want to enjoy it. Pay attention to company culture and find a workplace that makes you feel comfortable, supported, and productive. You’ll be much happier and enjoy a more successful tech career as a result.