Great article from McKinsey, “Bad to great: The path to scaling up excellence”
When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters
by Bill Barnett
Some organizations will excite you. They’ll stimulate your success and growth. Others will be stressful. They may lead you to quit before you’ve accomplished much or learned what you hoped to. With the pressure (or excitement) of finding a new job, it’s all too easy to pursue a job opportunity or to accept an offer with only a hazy view of how the institution really operates. The path to an institution you’ll like is to investigate the culture you’re thinking of joining before you accept the position.
Sean (name has been changed) is a master at this. He pursued a job offer at a Fortune 500 company to be the first Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). He was well-qualified, presented himself well, and got the offer. He’d been competing with capable people. He was proud he’d “won the contest.”
The next step was a return visit, after which he’d decide to accept the offer. Sean had already learned a lot about the company’s businesses and some things about the organization. His priority now was culture and how the new position might fit: “I asked people, ‘What are you excited about? What are you proud of? Who are your close friends in the company? How does the group function together?’” Sean learned things like who the heroes were, what made them successful, and what his biggest challenges and opportunities would be in the job. The different people he met with were learning from his questions. It was almost like he already worked there, and they were jointly determining how to make the new role successful.
Surprisingly, Sean turned down the offer. The new role was a misfit in the company’s culture.
As he learned more about the company, Sean questioned how he’d be viewed as the first CAO in a company where everyone else focused on bottom-line results. It was a highly performance-driven environment with lots of business units. Corporate staffs were secondary.
“I asked how they’d keep score on me, how they’d really know I was making a difference,” he said. “We never got to satisfactory answers to that question. They weren’t hiding anything. This CAO position was a new one, and they didn’t really know.”
Sean was concerned that this new position wouldn’t fit in the company’s culture, that he wouldn’t really be accepted, and that it wouldn’t be a springboard to the line job that he really wanted after two or three years as CAO. He might have made it work, but why take the risk?
It’s not uncommon for job seekers to enter organizations without understanding the culture and come away disappointed. When considering a new job, be sure to investigate the institution’s culture. Consider these questions to guide you:
1. What should I learn? Understand the organization’s purpose — not just what they say they’re doing, but also how their purpose leads to decisions and what makes them proud. Learn how the organization operates. For example, consider the importance of performance, how the organization gets things done, the level of teamwork, the quality of the people, how people communicate, and any ethical issues.
Except for ethical issues, there’s no absolute standard of what’s best in organizational culture. Different purposes and different organizational features can be more or less appealing to different people. When you understand how the potential employer operates, you’ll need to consider how well that matches your goals. Your target organizational culture is an important part of your aspirations.
2. How should I learn? Read everything you can find about the institution, but read with a critical eye. Institutions have formal vision statements, and they often mention cultural topics in other public reports, but these documents are written with a purpose in mind. Independent writers take an independent perspective. They can be more critical, but they can miss details and get things wrong.
Discuss culture with people in the organization. You’ll talk to people in the interviewing process, of course. But you may learn different things if you meet others there who aren’t involved in your recruiting process. Also talk to people outside the organization who know it — customers, suppliers, partners, and ex-employees. Their different experiences with the institution will affect their views, so ask about situations where they’ve seen the culture in action.
3. When should I learn? It’s hard to learn about culture at an early stage in your search. But your impressions can guide you to target some institutions and avoid others.
Culture may come up in job interviews, although it may be complicated to do much investigation when you’re trying to sell yourself. People sometimes worry that discussing culture might make people uncomfortable and put a job offer at risk. The culture topic is certainly not off-base, and it is necessary to know for future growth in the company. Hiring managers should expect it. Whether it’s in interviews or after you have an offer, you’ll do best if your questions show you’re learning rapidly about the organization, taking the employer’s perspective, and beginning to figure out how to succeed there. Culture questions can cast you in a positive light. Sean’s line of questioning confirmed the CEO’s judgment to hire him, even if Sean didn’t like the answers.
What’s your view of how culture affects the job search? Has culture played a part in how you choose your future employer?
Originally posted Wednesday May 2, 2012
Benefits of Using a Recruiter
- Posted by Evelyn Amaro on April 19, 2012 at 9:30am
Why should I use a recruiter?
You are at your desk, or at home watching TV when you get a call from a recruiter who has found your contact information using the many secrets of the trade (sorry – that’s one secret I intend to keep). Before you hang up the phone, remember that recruiters can hold the keys to the hidden jewels of the job market. Use them and they may just open the door to a new career opportunity. I am not saying this because I am a recruiter, because I’m not – I just work for them. What I have learned working behind the scenes is the important role a recruiter can play in a persons career path. Even if you are not looking now, you may need their help later, so this applies to those who are blissfully happy with their careers, as well as those looking for a new opportunity. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should use a recruiter. Look for Part II: What to expect from your recruiter on Thursday.
- Hidden Job Market. I said earlier that recruiters hold the hidden jewels of the job market, and here they are – undisclosed jobs. Many times, especially with Sr level positions, companies have confidential roles that are for restricted eyes only. Companies then turn to recruiters for help with these positions. You cannot find these positions listed on Monster, or the various other job sites on the web. Imagine – your dream job may just be a recruiter away. This point goes hand in hand with #2.
- Connections. Recruiters have clout with hiring managers and sr. level executives – many of us do not. You send your resume to numerous companies, and post your resume on various job sites to no avail. You still haven’t heard a peep. Recruiters have the connections to not only get you in the door, but also get feedback – whether positive or negative – rather quickly. Think of how many others are applying to the same job you are…tons. Hiring managers and HR personnel simply cannot and do not have the time to review every resume. A recruiter can guarantee that you won’t be just another resume in a pile; you will be sent to Sr manager who will review your resume. Don’t you love recruiters just a little bit more now?
- Expertise. Are you underpaid? Overpaid? Are you ready for a Sr role? Are your technical skills up to par? There are a number of questions that can help you make an informed decision when it comes to strategic career planning, and a recruiter is a great resource to utilize. They can help you find answers and ask questions that will guide you to the right job and the right steps to take in order to advance your career. Best of all, this information is free, unbiased and essential when determining your position and worth in today’s job market.
- End Game is the same. You and your recruiter have the same goal, and that is to make sure you are putting your best foot forward, meeting the right people, and hopefully getting you an ideal role that is a perfect fit for both you and your future employer. Their on your side. This leads me to point #5…
- Long-term ally. Let’s say you found a recruiter, you find a job (whether it was their role or not), and you are now perfectly content, remember this may not always be the case. Come 3-5 years down the line you may decide to try your hands at a new company/role again. Or you may spend the rest of your days in the company you are working for, but may need advice when it comes to compensation, employee rights, etc… You now have an ally that is there for you to utilize. Recruiters (meaning legitimate, professional recruiters) are in it for the long haul. They are in the business of building relationships with both candidates and clients, and making sure both parties are equally satisfied. Therefore you not only gain a new role, but you also gain an important ally to guide you through your current and future career path.
So the next time a recruiter calls you, you just might want to pick up the phone.
This article was originaly posted on NationStaff’s Blog
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MacGyver, the 1980’s television icon played by Richard Dean Anderson, was a secret agent who never carried a weapon. Instead, MacGyver relied on improvisation and a sound working knowledge of scientific principals, his Swiss Army knife, some duct tape and the occasional paper clip to finagle his way out of just about any predicament.
But ol’ Mac never had to sit through an interview with Barbara Walters, who famously asked Katharine Hepburn “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”
Barbara’s inquiry falls into the category (however obliquely) of the vaunted behavioral interview question, increasingly employed not only by TV journalists, but also by Human Resources departments and a great many hiring managers.
MacGyver’s improvisation skills would undoubtedly come in handy during a behavioral interview. But why?
Behavioral interview questions are meant to show either how you think on your feet (as Google’s famous questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” might) and/or to determine how you have actually responded to real world situations and challenges (as in “Tell me about a time a supervisor challenged your behavior; how did you handle it?”). Of course, there are also honest self-assessments that simultaneously gauge tact (“What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?” – which we’d guess Mac might answer with “My choice in barbershops”).
Once dreaded but rare in frequency, today more and more interviewers are using the advanced strategy of behavioral questioning to delve deeply into a candidate’s psyche. And while we here at Rockwood won’t be able to help you stop the flow of sulfuric acid with some chocolate the way Mac did in the pilot episode (later confirmed on Mythbusters), we can help by providing you with the top 10 most popular behavioral interview questions from About.com, this article JobInterviewQuestions.com covering behavioral question strategy and the exhaustive “Complete List of Behavioral Interview Questions” from Emurse.com.
While the ultimate economic results of the debt deal remain to be seen, one thing is and has been certain: there will continue to be movement among employees who are actively seeking change.
A pre-debt deal survey by Mercer Consulting from June showed that nearly 1 in 3 employees was actively looking for new work and another 21% were dissatisfied with their employers.
While the number currently seeking employment is down from Right Management’s December 2010 survey of 84%, Mercer’s overall sample size was almost 20 times larger globally and nearly twice as large in the US…and also did not likely draw from a search firm’s candidate database (Right Management is the consulting division of staffing giant Manpower – who we are sure doesn’t mind us pointing this out, ahem). Of course, Right’s survey was well in advance of the debt deal.
Notwithstanding the surveys (or the debt deal, for that matter), 2 million people quit their jobs in May, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures cited in a Bloomberg article yesterday, contending that confidence in the economy is the driver of that particular bus.
Seems like Dodd-Frank rules are changing almost as soon as they become law lately…
The SEC extended the registration deadline for certain hedge funds while Reuters reported the FDIC clarified previously vague executive compensation “clawback” provisions that allow for recovery of up to 2 years worth of past compensation from executives at failed financial institutions.
With the most widely read “brief” summary of Dodd-Frank from Davis Polk coming in at 117 pages of text, is it any wonder that the Economist ran a feature article on the now white hot Management Consulting industry? With things changing so quickly, it’s no wonder outside expertise is being sought.
Concordantly, we expect to see continued hiring of subject matter experts, business analysts and project managers in support of Dodd-Frank-related initiatives within Human Resources, Operations and Compliance/Regulatory within Banking, Insurance, Asset Management and Capital Markets, and in particular with Management Consulting firms and other vendors supporting those efforts.
Regular readers of the Rockwood Blog already know how important it is to avoid typos.
But sometimes even perfect spelling and grammar aren’t enough – there are some things that should be left off a resume.
Here’s a great article from Yahoo! Finance discussing 10 things that should be omitted from your resume.
Among our strong suggestions at Rockwood:
¨ Lies: Time and time again, they are uncovered. Follow Mom’s rules about honesty – it’s the best policy.
¨ The headshot: it doesn’t really help in any case – let those with an interest look you up on LinkedIn.
¨ Things that were once labeled “Confidential”: This is of particular importance to management consultants when it comes to naming clients for whom they have worked.
A concisely worded resume that avoids the entries in the article is a strong foundation for a job search; call your Rockwood representative if you have any doubts.