Career Advice, Interviews

Corporate Garanimals: How to Determine If A Company Is Right For You

I so wish that there would have been Garanimals when I was growing up. I would have been so much better dressed and think of all the consternation and worry that would be gone. It’s just a brilliant idea. As they say on their website, “Garanimals was founded on a simple but unique concept: to help parents and children coordinate outfits easily. Each animal represents a line within the collection.  Each of the distinct animal lines consists of mix and match separates, whose color and style coordinate with any piece within that same animal line.  Each animal then becomes an identifier for the simple piecing system.”  It’s so simple and so elegant.

And how I would love to see us have the same “garanimals” concept being used for how we match ourselves to companies when we decide to take a job or not.  Think about it. How great would it be to look in the front door of a company and see that they are a great company for kangaroos, hippos and zebras?  But, knowing that you are sometimes a lion and more often than not a panther, you wouldn’t even apply because the likelihood of getting the job would be low and if you did get into the company you would likely not succeed.  But, this is far from what happens.

I was recently reviewing a job description for a senior, very important, position with a company and I was focusing on the “personal traits desired”.  These were all good things and nothing to be argued.  But when I looked at other jobs that were posted by the company, I saw that the personal traits desired were different for each job. Okay, I get that a few could be different but there should be a lot of consistency and if they really knew who they were as a company, then they would all be the same, for every job.  They would be as clear as what a kangaroo is and isn’t.  So, how do you know if there is a good match for you?  Try these three things:

  • Use every resource you can to find and talk to a minimum of seven people who used to work for the company and then ask them each to give you five words that best describe the culture; five words that best say how to be successful in the company, and finally, five words that best describe why people fail there.  Then take your answers and find the commonalities and try and put together a picture for yourself of who they are.
  • Find three of your best friends, confidents, and straight-shooters and ask him/her to look at what you have found out about the company and ask them to answer your question: “Is this me, or not?” If more than one says it is not, then run, don’t walk, away.  No matter how good it sounds and looks, you will not solely change the culture.  If you are the CEO, then maybe, but beyond that, don’t think that much of yourself.
  • If you get past the two things above, call your references and ask them to please share your five words that best describe you and to ask the person who is checking the reference to tell them that this is a good fit or not.  If any of them get any hesitation or weird answers back, please ask them to make you their next phone call or email.

We aren’t going to get Corporate Garanimals any time soon, so do all you can to make sure that you are making the best decision about the intangible areas and I hope that you find the best of best match for you!