When I ask job seekers what’s important to them in their next opportunity, I almost always hear “culture.”
But when I ask them to define what that means to them, the answers vary greatly.
The candidates who have worked at both toxic cultures and thriving ones seem to articulate best what a great work culture looks like—side note, this is why working in toxic cultures isn’t always a bad thing, you end up learning a lot about what you’re looking for in your career…just as long as you don’t stick around long enough to let it destroy your mental health.
As I listen to their answers, there are certainly common themes. One being, thriving cultures are usually ones in which employees are encouraged to explore and empowered to advance. They tell stories of executive assistants who learn to code and are promoted into engineering roles, or salespeople turned marketing gurus, or interns who become heads of completely different departments.
A culture that cultivates curiosity is one that people feel proud to be part of. And when you’re proud of the environment in which you are working, things tend to be more fulfilling and you’ll most likely be doing your best work.
But don’t take the hiring manager’s word for it. Check out the LinkedIn profiles of some of the employees at your prospective company. Look into their promotion paths. Then message and ask them about career growth opportunities and management philosophies there. Do your homework. Culture isn’t something you notice from one onsite interview. It’s felt and expressed by the current and former employees at the organization.