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What kind of workplace would you thrive in

March - Career Week #3

What kind of workplace would you thrive in

Organisations have personalities just like people do and finding which one will suit you is an important part of knowing where to focus your job search and find an organisation in which can develop and flourish.

This personality is called an organisation's culture or more specifically organisational culture.

Why should you even bother about it?

Organisational culture is a bit of a mouthful and even a bit vague sounding, but it is something you will hear a lot more of as you develop your career as a graduate. What exactly is it? No two organisations will ever have the same culture and it is actually a mixture of many things, some that you can see and some that you feel. Essentially it is a collection of attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, ways of doing things, wrapped up in an organisation's mission statement and values. You will have your unique preferences and personality so can see how important it is to find an organisation which will energise you and not drain you. Let's look at some of the things that help create this culture.

Things to notice and some questions to think about:

It's the working environment: notice the atmosphere of the physical space, is it modern or traditional? Is the energy fast or slow? Does it have open plan offices, private offices, or cubicles? How does that sit with you? Will you have your own desk or will you hot desk? What kinds of perks do staff have? Is that important to you? Is the building modern, traditional or perhaps it's a virtual office?

It's how people interact with one another: is it noisy or is there a museum-like hush? How are people managed, rewarded, acknowledged, and valued by that organisation? Is it obvious? What kind of leadership is there and what is their leadership style? Is the dress code formal or informal? Does that matter to you?

It's the way of working; Is it inclusive? Do people work collaboratively, autonomously, or competitively? Are you expected to work late if a client brief is changed last minute, or can you manage your own time? What is the work -life balance like? Are they flexible about working styles? Is the business corporate, formal and hierarchical where you job description is very fixed, or is it flatter and more collaborative and fluid? Is it more of a high-octane start-up where you are expected to turn your hand at anything and be agile?

Dig a little deeper and go past all that window dressing!

There are several ways you can go about this and gather real intel; start by researching online. Look at their website, how do they talk about themselves? This is called their Talent Brand, their shop window to candidates and the world. What are they celebrating and proud of achieving? How does that resonate with you? What is their vision for their company? What are they talking about on their website? What is not being talked about? Does that matter to you? Who is being featured in their Employee Case studies and staff networks? What are they sharing about themselves and their values on social media?

Informational Interviews

You can speak to people who work there or have worked there. Informational Interviews are where you reach out to someone and ask them to give you 20-30 minutes of their time so you can ask them questions and get insight into their role, job profile or organisation. You go prepared to ask them questions you want answers to and if you make a great impression, you might get referred to someone else in their network, or even find a Mentor.

Insights days and Employer events

Insight days are an opportunity to visit physical offices of an organisation and get a feel for what the atmosphere is like. You can also get a chance to speak to some of their employees and get their experience of working there. What do they like about it and what do they least like about it. What's their story?

Employer Events are a chance to network with employers and make connections that you could use for informational interviews.


Glass door is a platform that lets you search for jobs but also gives you a sneak peek inside an organisation. Employees give anonymous and sometimes brutally honest reviews of everything about an organization from CEO approval ratings to work life balance and managements styles. Invaluable intelligence but don't rely on just one source- do your due diligence!


When they ask you do have any questions for us, that is your chance to get information you need to help you make an informed decision about all the above. Interviews are two-way streets so make sure you have some prepared!

One last thing...

When it comes to finding a job, you will come across the word "culture fit." Don't think you have to change who you are to fit an organisation. There are plenty of organisations out there who are looking exactly for you and what you bring to the table! Think instead about "culture add." What do you uniquely offer in terms of life experience, talent and skills that can enrich the culture of an organisation? Be ready to talk about it on job applications and in interviews. Don't hide what makes you you and makes you special. Let it shine for everyone to see and find a job you love that makes you happy!

Suggested Reading

> Company Culture examples

Glassdoor company reviews

How to go about informational interviews

Ways to discover a company's culture

What kind of workplace would you thrive in

By Anna Gordon - Certified Business Coaching Psychologist ABP CBCP

What kind of workplace would you thrive in



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