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Best Companies to Work For … For YOU

I love Comcast.

Not because of their services (which have been excellent in the week since installation), but because of the technician, Angel, who came to install our new internet, cable, and phone services.

Angel loves Comcast. He spoke glowingly of the company culture, stock purchase plan, and senior executives who spend time in the field. He takes advantage of development and educational opportunities and expects to advance in the company.

I haven’t needed to call for additional service or support since the installation, but if anything comes up I can always call Angel directly – he gave me his cell number.

The upshot is that I now have a very positive impression of a company that previously I thought of only as another (somewhat annoying) commodity.

What Are Others Saying About Your Target Companies?

If you’re in a job search, current and past employees are among the best sources for finding out what it’s really like to work at a company. And, whether their views are positive or negative, most people are usually very willing to share them!

Asking “what’s it like to work there” is a great opening for a networking conversation … and, of course, those are precisely the conversations that often lead to direct referrals to hiring managers.

Just be sure to listen carefully to what people say and don’t say – take their opinions seriously and weigh them against what’s most important to you. For example, if you hear (from the horse’s mouth) that a company doesn’t do much to sponsor or support continuing professional development, don’t expect the situation to change if you go to work there. If that’s a priority for you, the company is a bad fit.

In addition to tapping into your network and LinkedIn connections to find current/past employees, you can get a broad range of anonymous views at sites like Glassdoor.com. Don’t rely on aggregate numbers, though – take the time to see what people say about what they like and dislike, just as you would in a live conversation.

What Do You Say About Past and Present Employers?

When approached by networking contacts for information about one of your employers, how honest should you be about the negatives? I recommend that you be truthful but specific, so that the other person can judge whether a factor is important.

As an example – say you left a prior employer because the work environment was just too laid back. People showed up late, took long lunches, left the office by 5 every day. Things got done, but at a slow pace … and it drove you crazy! You left for a culture that’s more intense, productive, and invigorating.

However, that laid-back atmosphere might be perfect for someone else. So rather than saying, “I was bored there” or “Everything moved at a snail’s pace,” you might be more diplomatic and also more specific: “The culture there is pretty relaxed, and while the people were really nice, I wanted to work in a more high-energy environment. In my new job I work 12-hour days with people who are just as committed as I am – and I love it!”

Culture fit is one of the most important predictors of job satisfaction. You can do your best to get it right by quizzing people who’ve worked there (past and present) and clearly understanding your own most important requirements for job satisfaction. Further, you can help others by sharing your impressions of places where you’ve worked – with specifics that help them make their own decision about the best cultural fit.

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