Three in ten Americans say their job "is just a job to get them by," and a recent study by OfficeTeam suggests that American workers report being bored an average of 10.5 hours each week. Given that employed people spend an average of eight hours a day at work, I think we all deserve better.
But while the idea of finding a job you truly love sounds ideal, finding out what a company's culture is really like can be a real challenge. Below are three tips to understand and assess what a company will truly be like to work at long before you show up for your first day:
Read the reviews.
Websites such as Glassdoor, InHerSight, and Comparably all offer real reviews and context from current and former employees at any given company on formal items (such as medical benefits and paid leave) but also details that are hard to find out about an organization from the outside, including what front line employees think of the CEO, how employees feel about the future of the company, and how a workplace supports female leaders, to name just a few.
Take the time to sort by location and by the team you plan to join, or sort by criteria you care about--doing so will help you identify how much employee feedback aligns with your own values but also what your recruiter and hiring manager are telling you.
Ask for specifics.
Often people will ask vague questions about companies or teams they wish to join, such as whether the company promotes people internally or the degree to which working parents are supported within an organization. Instead, I recommend asking for specific examples of folks you can connect with you have first-hand experience with issues most important to you.
For example, if you care deeply about remote work, ask to speak with an employee who works remotely more than 50 percent of the time so you can drill down on how well they are supported in their remote work months or years into a role.
Do a blind reference check.
With the proliferation of social media, it's often possible to identify folks within an organization who work in similar positions to the ones you're consider. Peruse their social media content to understand their impressions of the company, or ask a mutual connection for a quick phone call or email for more context on their experience.
Any company can find a few happy employees to put on their website, but you'll be surprised at how candid current and former employees will be if you reach out to them to ask for their take on the company.
I recommend doing two to three of these if time allows to ensure you don't over-index on a single opinion, but the act of doing it can give you significantly more confidence that you're making the right call with context from an unbiased source.
An employer's careers site is a great first step to understanding what they say about their culture, but it's not always an indication of how well their rhetoric matches their reality. So rather than staying in a job you hate or jumping in blind to your first day, do your homework--the three steps above will help you land a position that fits your priorities, your lifestyle, and your passion at work.
Given the number of hours you spend at work each way, it's well worth the investment to find a place that helps you learn and grow.