Organizations are seeking top candidates who are a good “culture fit.” As a job seeker, to find a position and a company that you’re going to love and thrive in, you have to do your own vetting. When you identify the organizations you’re most interested in, it’s time to figure out how to tell your career story so it shows you will excel within the organization’s culture.
Identifying an Organization’s Culture
An organization’s culture is vital to grasp because your work experience could be miserable if you don’t. The culture gives you a strong clue to the personalities and interests of the people you’ll be working with and for. It opens your eyes to how an organization’s politics operate. If you’re a serious type A personality who prefers to work alone and are extremely competitive, you’re not likely to succeed or climb the career ladder at a very team-oriented company. Applying for a job where the fit isn’t right is a waste of your effort.
The most important step you can take to identify an organization’s culture is to read as much as you can about it. Read their website, blog, news articles about them, any quotes you can find on Glassdoor or in news articles from current or former employees. Find out what the organization’s mission is, what its current projects are, what it prioritizes in terms of services and products provided. Who are the organization’s target customers?
Follow all of the organization’s social media outlets. Matt Krumrie of FlexJobs says to be “strategic” in your search for information on the culture by looking at web pages about the organization’s social responsibility or community involvement. With this information, you’ll be well prepared to position yourself as the perfect fit for the company’s culture.
How to Show You’re a Match to Company Culture
Your resume and cover letter can show more than just your skills. Use them to your advantage to give an employer an inside look at your personality and experience and how they align with the company’s culture.
• Here’s a great tip for a cover letter: “Try something honest and conversational” that uses the first person “I” to tell your story and how you can benefit the organization, says Anish Majumdar of Glassdoor. Avoid using too many buzzwords. Majumdar suggests starting with “I love to find the opportunity in adversity,” instead of “Dynamic self-starter with a 10-year track record of excellence in. . .” (I would strongly advise not using “I” statements on your resume, however, as most recruiters view that as a resume error.)
• Create some context around your career accomplishments. For example, “Led team of five teachers and developed new curriculum objectives” could be “Led team of five middle school science instructors and spearheaded the outlining of new curriculum objectives in science to meet institution’s goal of sending 100% of all students to college within five years.”
• Create a Special Interest section at the end of your resume to highlight your involvement or interest in charities or causes that the organization supports, perhaps showing initiative by mentioning a plan to raise awareness that involves the organization’s employees in some way.
• Mention specific projects you headed or participated in that align with the company’s values and priorities in your resume in a bulleted list of related experience and throughout the cover letter. The more context you can give, the better.
• Match your cover letter and resume tone to what the employer values most. If the bios of staff members mention their favorite foods and movies, for example, suggests Alexa Biale of The Muse, avoid writing a cover letter that is classically professional in its tone and content. Don’t be afraid to share a bit of who you are.
To get the interview and the job you want, carefully research who the organization is and what its operating style is like. Then back up your desire to be there with specific examples of how you’re the right person for the hire.
Want more cover letter help? Download my newest guide How NOT to Start Your Cover Letter (Plus 7 Examples of What to Say Instead).
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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