The job description reads like a dream and the work looks fulfilling. From the jump, the position appears to be a perfect fit for your qualifications. But soon after you start the new job, doubts about accepting the position emerge. The drawbacks start to roll in: You have different and more responsibilities than expected, the company’s leadership style is autocratic and the atmosphere feels oppressive. All in all, you realize the job and the company aren’t right for you.
Luckily, such a scenario can be avoided, human resources experts say. Job seekers should take more control of their job search by looking beyond the job description and investigating the reality of the position and probing the culture of the company to determine if a job will work for them.
“Whether you’re a good fit for the culture or not can make or break your experience on the job,” says Alexandra Levit, author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. “It’s critically important to not only get a sense of the tasks you’ll be performing on an everyday basis but to also find out if people enjoy working there. Is the leadership style something you can cope with? Is the way they do business something you personally agree with?” Looking beyond benefits and schedules and examining the environment of a company is becoming more important as the work world evolves, says Carl Jefferson, senior vice president of organization leadership and talent management solutions at Careers in Transition Inc.
“Get into a professional relationship with the organization,” says Jefferson, also the president and CEO of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. “We’re now in a relationship culture. People have to find out whether or not they like each other enough to work together.”
Also, “you need to know what kind of company it is,” says Barbara England, a human resources consultant at Employers Resource Association in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s not just the job, it’s the organization itself. How does that company meet its mission? Does the company have a vision?”
Overall, whether a potential employee and employer’s values align can seriously affect productivity and success on the job, says Richard Jordan, senior program recruiter with IntraHealth International in Chapel Hill, N.C. “When people succeed or fail in jobs, it isn’t about ability. It’s about fit.”
Words: Sherri Williams
Photo: Bowden Images