Have you ever seen a job ad for the perfect job role?
I’m not talking about the role that makes you consider whether leaving your current position would be a good idea. I’m talking about the one that makes your eyes glimmer, and your mind fill with eager anticipation of what your life could be.
“Oh, look, a senior designer role! Let me just quickly skim over the company introduction and read the requirements… Perfect, I think I’ll apply now.”
We’ve all been there. We’ve all done that. And that, provided you do get the job in the first place, is a big mistake.
Your work environment matters
The Harvard Business Review once conducted some research on the reasons why employees and managerial staff tend to stay in one workplace rather than move to another. According to the research, “Managerial and professional employees stay primarily for reasons related to their work and the work environment; six of the top ten reasons they cited for staying were related to job satisfaction, three to the company environment, and only one to the outside environment.”
This was in July, 1973. Today, with the stigma on mental health being challenged a bit more with each industry debate, we know how much people care about their work environment, peers and leaders. We can’t stay that the situation has changed much in the past 50 years.
People are more motivated to work when they join a stimulating and healthy work environment. But if that is true, why do we keep looking at the job title before the company? Why do we care so much about what we are going to do, rather than the people we are going to do that with?
The answer probably lies in our own wish to reach self-fulfilment. Most of us, especially in the creative industries, are looking to carry out a job they enjoy. They expect to have at least some fun in their new roles. So, way too often, the tasks and responsibility overthrow the company environment by importance. That, however, can lead to some terrible disasters down the line.
Here’s a story: a friend of mine once applied to become an event assistant at some random company found on a very popular job site. They were incredibly excited to join and were looking forward to finally kickstarting their career in events. Except they weren’t. The company was advertising the role as being for events assistants or even events executives, but their marketing approach consisted in standing outside of venues while handling leaflets and approaching passers-by to attempt one-on-one sales.
My friend called me in tears the day of her first (and only) trial. By failing to research the company itself and what they did (though admittedly the pricks would sell themselves in a very sneaky and credible way), she had a moment in which she doubted her entire career. Was that what working in events was supposed to be like? Was that what she had studied for?
Image credit: Jonathan Sands
Luckily, a good job came along at some point. Coincidentally, it was with an amazing company, one with great company culture and an incredibly healthy work environment. My friend left that company after a while. She’s been trying to go back ever since.
Let this little story sink in and be something to remember in your own job hunt: the job title may trick you, but good company culture never will.
Don’t just aim for the big ones
I left big names and companies out of this picture on purpose. Looking for some great company culture does not mean that you’ll only have to aim for the big ones. Some of the biggest companies (most of them, really) will require years and years of grinding and work before you can qualify for one of their positions, often due to the scale of their business.
What is truly wondrous is that you can find value even (and sometimes especially) in the smallest teams. You don’t need a huge multi-national to be happy, if that is not your ultimate ambition. We have some amazing small businesses and agencies here on Creativepool which have some of the best and healthiest work environments we’ve ever heard about.
With that said, things are definitely changing and company culture is being observed, studied and envisioned in much different ways in these most recent years. The biggest brands and agencies are ever so focused on making their work environment enjoyable for all employees, a place of professional and personal relationships which sometimes can even work as a second family.
A great employee will never want to leave the perfect work environment. That perfect work environment will always recognise their worth, provide new challenges, personal and career growth opportunities, and much, much more. Company benefits isn’t all that matters; a good leadership team and a cohesive way to approach projects and common goals is key in any enjoyable work environment, where no one should feel more important or entitled than others.
How to recognise the best companies? Sometimes, you need only look at a job ad. Those companies will take the time to explain their culture in a quirky way perhaps, or their unique voice and warmth will shine through the introduction of the advert itself. If someone feels too focused on business goals, growth and requirements to guarantee a great work environment… They probably are. Look out for those things that dry up the job ad and instead, try to find those companies that truly ignite your interest with their voice.
Failing that, researching the website of the company and their ‘About’ section is always a good place to start. Even if the advertised job role seems to be perfect for you, it won’t sound that way once you are stuck in a less-than-pleasant office with a micro-management culture.
The best companies will not be afraid to take some time to introduce their essence to you, and they will not be afraid to attract the people who resonate with their culture the most. They will value your skills and capabilities just as much as your personal attributes.