Career Coach Weekly Wisdom: Culture 

How do you go from running your own company (and determining your culture) to pivoting back into the corporate world? The potential employer’s cultural fit is so important — how do you make it work?

In a job search, people are hired for cultural fit, everything else being equal.  The smartest person in the room rarely gets the job.  The person who believes in the mission statement of a potential employer will start to understand the company’s culture.

How do you know the mission statement of a potential employer?  Just check out their website. To understand more, ask current employees (maybe some alumni of your university). You can also read about the company and talk to your friends about the company’s reputation.

Due to COVID and a general downturn in certain industries, potential employers are even more concerned that if you have run your own company, you may not fit into their culture.

Since you as your own boss defined your company culture, will you be comfortable working within a potential company’s culture?  If not, you will leave, and they will have wasted their valuable time in recruiting.

So what can you do?

  • Spend the 50-75% of your resume geography on the present. Talk about your current company, focusing on the accomplishments which directly relate to the job you want, and demonstrate how these achievements fit the culture of your potential employer.
  • Ensure the “About” section of your LinkedIn profile demonstrates your unique story of enjoying and thriving in the potential employer culture.
  • If you have worked for larger corporations in the past, emphasize at the beginning of your resume that you bring a more flexible set of tools than professionals who have spent their entire careers in the corporate world
  • In an interview, come prepared. Make sure your answers express the ability to work with multiple internal and external stakeholders, even when you ran your company. I have rarely seen a culture where working with others is not a key element.

Learn the culture and market yourself to that culture.

My Client

  • CTO of a medium-sized company for many years
  • Laid off before COVID and ran his own technology consulting company
  • Wanted to get back to a corporate job for all the reasons you can think of (stability, money, benefits, etc.)

How did we show a cultural fit?

We did these four things:

  • Identified a target list of companies whose mission statement and culture matched his work values. (In this case a company which was on the cutting edge of technology that valued mentoring.)
  • Ran sample job descriptions through to find the highest-ranking keywords centered on culture
  • Incorporated these keywords into his resume and LinkedIn profile, but not at the expense of content
  • Heavily stressed his stakeholder management skills from his own company to show he knew how to work in an ecosystem and mentor

My client landed an SVP of Architecture role at a prominent company.

Bottom Line

Learn the culture and market yourself to that culture.


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