If you’re looking for a new job, chances are that you’ve already got a few references in mind that you know you can count on to give you a glowing review when the time comes. But what if I told you that sometimes you don’t get to choose your references? And no, I’m not joking!
Starting to panic? You shouldn’t… at least not yet anyway! Let me explain… When it comes to hiring new employees, employers make lots of checks on applicants, and, as I’ve explained before, one of these checks includes browsing candidates’ social media profiles on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
While that’s not new news as such, you might be surprised to learn that simply looking at your activity is only half the story. What do I mean? Well, in addition to looking at what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to on these platforms, employers are also considering who you’re connected to and if you have any connections/followers in common.
Why? Well because if you do have any mutual connections, the employer might be tempted to ask these connections how they know you and what their initial impressions of you are. OK, now’s the time to panic! Just kidding.
While not every employer does this, some definitely do – and in these situations, the employer will probably listen carefully to what their connection has to say about the candidate. That said, if the feedback is less complimentary, the employer might be tempted to discard a potential candidate altogether.
So, what should you do to ensure a reference from a non-preferred contact doesn’t cost you the job?
1. Be Professional
Whatever role you work in and whoever you come across, it’s always important to be professional and polite – even if someone’s desperately trying to cram their latest product down your neck on every platform going! Even if something doesn’t work out with a potential client or you feel you’ve been screwed over by someone, try to keep calm and think twice before posting or replying to someone – because, as we’ve just explained, it could come back to bite you at a time when you’d least expect it.
2. Think Twice Before Making A Connection
Yes, yes – when it comes to job seeking, it’s all about having a big network and making the most of it. But as we’ve just mentioned, you don’t know when this connection might be called into question, so if you’ve had a run-in with someone before and you suddenly get a LinkedIn connection from them, you might want to think twice before hitting that ‘Accept’ button. Remember, if the employer doesn’t know that you know that person, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ask them for a reference.
3. Tighten Up Your Network
Have a look through your LinkedIn connections. If you spot any connections who would be less than complimentary about you if given the opportunity, it might be time to hit that ‘delete’ button. Yes, it may seem cruel – but would you rather lose them as a connection or keep them and have the worry that they might cost you a job opportunity later down the line?
As I said before, not every employer will go down the route of checking their connections against yours and asking for references – but some will – so it’s important to keep this in mind when building your network and applying for jobs in the future.
Of course, you have to ensure you have the technical qualifications for the job you are seeking, but you also want to ensure you will fit in with the culture. After all, you spend approximately a third of your waking hours at work, so you want it to be a place where you are comfortable spending time. Here are some questions to ask during your interview to help ensure you’ll feel at home.
1. What’s your employee attrition rate?
Okay, you don’t have to ask this straight-up, but you can allude to it through questions like, “How long have you worked here? Have most of your colleagues been here that long as well?” If there is high turnover, it’s likely that there are problems with their culture. Office drama between colleagues, a lack of voice, bad management, etc. can all contribute to making people leave the company quickly. And a place where people are constantly trying to exit is not one you want to enter.
2. How often are new ideas pitched and discussed in your office?
With this question, you can find out the level of input you’d be able to make depending on your level or rank within the company. Can you, as a marketer, sit in on a product meeting? Can you provide input on marketing issues?
One quick way to discover how collaborative an environment is, is to see how your interviewer answers the “ideas” question. And it’s a much more pointed way to learn the truth than by asking “How team oriented are you?”
3. What position did you have when you first joined? How have you grown?
If growth and new opportunities are what you’re after, make sure you don’t end up at a dead-end job. If you want the chance to move up and take on new responsibilities, this is your chance to ensure you’re not looking for yet another new job a year or two down the road.
4. How do you measure success in your office?
Are metrics focused on time spent in the office or results achieved? This could be a tough one to answer but could give you insight into the degree of freedom offered as well as the challenges and responsibilities available.
5. What is your review process like?
How often do reviews occur? Does only your superior conduct the review or do they solicit feedback from peers and others? What about weekly or monthly 1 on 1 meetings with your supervisor? It’s a good idea to understand what the review process is and how you can solicit and provide feedback.
What other aspects of company culture and office behavior are important to you? Most companies that care about culture will give you clues about it on their site. For example, some company websites include a blog about their values. A quick search before the interview should give you all the clues you need to build personalized company culture interview questions.
This is your chance to show them that you’ve invested the time to really get to know them and that you’re excited to learn more! What does it mean when they say they “value change”? What’s their motivation behind team outings?
At the end of the day, it’s about getting to know yourself and what you want out of a job. What will make you happy even after the honeymoon phase is over? If you’re able to answer that, then you’re already halfway there to finding a company that’s the right culture match for you!