Company culture matters for marketers more than most.
Our discipline has become very collaborative and brand-based. If you don’t get along well with the people you’re working with, or if a brand’s core message doesn’t mesh with your personal values, you’re going to struggle. So when recruiters for marketing positions approach you with a new opportunity, it’s wise to think beyond just the job title and salary.
If you’ve been wise with you career choices and are looking for work at the best possible time, then you have the power to be selective with the jobs you take and the cultures you work in. Before committing to another big career move, take your time to evaluate and consider your prospective employer’s values, organizational branding, and workplace.
Determining Your Ideal Habitat
The first thing you should evaluate is what kind of culture is best for you. You don’t have to find an absolutely perfect culture match in order to find a good marketing job where you can be successful. But having a general understanding of what motivates and fulfills you as a professional will help you avoid a job where you are set up to fail.
What would be your dream company culture? Consider work environments in the past where you have thrived; what about them made you so successful? Perhaps it was management that was committed to your constant education and growth, or extremely friendly peers, or an organization-wide standard of individual accountability. Those are obviously things to seek out in your future employers.
Conversely, think about places where you have struggled or just weren’t excited to go in to work every day. What did you dread about that situation? What obstacles stood between you and fulfillment? You’ll want to avoid businesses with similar traits.
Be honest with yourself here. It’s easy to say that you would thrive in a high-energy, high-collaboration workplace, for instance. However, the reality is that many people might lose productivity from all the distractions. Take a step back and objectively consider what kind of environment your mind is most focused and happy in.
Interview Insights on Organizational Branding
One of your best opportunities to get a glimpse into the culture of a company will be during the interview. In fact, inquiring about culture is one of the best ways to make use of the time allotted for you to ask questions.
You can even directly ask recruiters for marketing positions; “What is the culture here at [COMPANY] like?” However, that might not get you the best answers.
If you’re a good candidate, your interview panel will be doing its best to sell you the job, and probably won’t mention any aspects that people might consider negative. In fact, they may not even have a clear perspective of the day-to-day reality you’ll be facing if you were hired.
Instead, consider asking questions like:
- What character traits would a successful person in this position have?
- Tell me about the people I would be working most closely with
- What might an average day in this position look like once I was fully onboarded?
- What makes you excited to come to work?
You should be able to piece together information from questions like that to get a more realistic perspective.
If you have an on-site interview, you should take the opportunity to check the pulse of the workplace. Is it buzzing with activity? Are people hard at work at their desks? Can you see yourself being happy in their shoes? Does your reception and interview process seem well-organized, or pulled together at the last minute? You shouldn’t base your perception on a fleeting first impression, but sometimes your instinctive read of an environment can be very valuable.
It’s great if the company as a whole has a positive, empowering culture. But even a very healthy tree can have a sick branch.
For instance, imagine you joined a large, prosperous and energetic business famous for its culture and organizational branding. You would be very disappointed to find that the creative team you joined and actually interact with on a daily basis is full of people who behave like cliquish teenagers, right?
Every business has its own culture. But within that larger organization, there might be myriad subcultures that can be considerably different for a variety of reasons. Make sure during your research that you drill down into the ecology of the people you’ll regularly work alongside.
What Current Employees Say
Perhaps the single most reliable source of information on corporate culture is straight from the mouths of people who currently or have recently worked there, preferably those who would be operating in a similar function to the marketing job you’re considering.
If you’re lucky, you might have a personal friend or acquaintance with firsthand experience working in the business. But if not, there are other places you can turn to for this insider perspective.
The easiest is to check out anonymous employer review sites like Glassdoor. These platforms empower professionals to provide feedback on the work environment and employee experience at a given company. However, take the information available on sites like this with a big grain of salt. Like most review channels, responses are likely to be skewed by very positive or negative experiences, while more moderate and typical perspectives are less likely to get shared.
The other option is to expand your professional network to include individuals who have experience working in this company. That’s easy enough on LinkedIn, and it’s entirely appropriate to try to connect with active users and ask their opinion on an organization’s culture. If you’re the kind of person who likes to network in-person at industry events and conferences, those can also be excellent opportunities to rub elbows with folks who have worked in that company.