How to make sure your face fits

Posted on Sunday, March 17, 2019 by Oli JusticeNo comments

Moving from the services to a Civvy Street career is not just a change of job - it’s a change of workplace culture. Sounds fancy but it's not - just as everyone has a unique personality that affects what they think is important and how they do things, so do organisations.

That means when you are looking for a new employer, you need to find one with a corporate culture that matches your own style of doing things - put simply, a job where your face fits.

For instance some companies are very formal - everyone wears smart suits and the boss is addressed as Mr Bloggs. In others, you can turn up in your jeans and everyone is on first name terms. Some companies insist you do everything in a specific way; in others you can work however you want provided you get results. If your natural style of working is at odds with that of the company, it's recipe for trouble

Employers know this, and prefer to recruit people who fit their company culture - so finding an employer with culture that suits your own increases your chances of getting the job. Job ads rarely make an employer's culture clear, so here's a few ways to find out what it is:

  • Look for clues in the ad. If it looks or sounds formal or stresses the company's long history, the company’s style is probably formal. If it's chatty and uses words like fast-paced or exciting, chances are it's not.
  • Think about the sector the company is in. Financial service jobs is typically more formal than marketing or advertising - but there's no guarantee that one particular firm will not be different so research the firm itself.
  • Look at the company website. If it talks about how it has been providing exclusive services for 120 years and pictures the directors sporting suits and briefcases, it probably sets great store by formality, tradition and precision. If there are whacky pictures of employees and lists of their favourite cakes (and there are some sites like this) it's probably a creative and informal organisation where results matter more than using traditional methods.
  • Travel to their office and watch the workers coming and going for half an hour (take a newspaper and a sandwich so they don't think you're suspicious). What do they look and sound like - formal or informal?
  • Ask around (perhaps online among other forces leavers) until you find someone who works there and ask them. This is by far the best way to research corporate culture.

Fortunately a forces background prepares you to get on with all types, so whatever sort of company you apply to, stress your flexibility and capacity for initiative and teamwork. Whatever the company culture, they will go down well.

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