Monday, February 8, 2010

Check out the culture of an organization

Check out the Culture of the Organization

It’s important when you are looking for a job to check out the culture of the organization for which you are seeking to work.

Getting a job is like getting married and compatibility is key to your success. Employers will be checking you out with your references. You, in turn, should check out the employer to find out about the culture and management style of the organization and if it matches your personality.

Here are some ways you can check out the culture of the organization to see if this would be a match made in heaven.

Know your Personality and Career Interests

First of all, it’s important to understand your own personality and career interests. Two tests that you can take to identify your personality and career interests are the Meyers Briggs Inventory (MBTI). You can take this assessment for free on

Another important assessment is to identify your career interests on (very low fee).

With this information, you will have a better understanding of yourself and should look at organizations that match your personality. For example, the Self-Directed Search may reveal that you are Entrepreneurial, Social and Artistic. In this case, it may be very stressful for you to work at a staid, bureaucratic organization that does not value creativity, autonomy and new ideas.


Check out what employees say about their companies on this free web site. Employees anonymously provide insights into the culture and management styles of their companies. It can provide some good insights. Of course, one vignette does not a company make. See if there are several comments as this would indicate a trend.


Find out about the culture of a company by asking information from current and former employees of this company. Go to LinkedIn ( and connect with current and former employees. Ask them about the culture, management style, good points, strong points, areas to be improved.

Best Companies to Work for Lists

See if the company is listed among the Best Companies to Work for Lists. If a company is consistently listed, that is a very positive factor.

Get Engaged First

Another way to check out the culture is to work on a short-term contract or project first. This will give you an opportunity to view firsthand the management style, the decision- making culture, the personalities of key players, the team work or lack of thereof and many other things. If it is a good match, then your part-time gig can turn into a full-time job with a company that is a good fit to whom you are.

Interview Questions

During the interview, listen carefully to the questions they ask you. Which questions keep coming up? What do they indicate about the organization or the company?
For example, if questions are asked about resolving conflicts on teams, after describing how you handled the situation, you can ask if this has been a problem in the organization and find about situations and how the conflicts were resolved.

One of my clients was interviewed at a large non-profit. She has a very positive, optimistic personality. During the interview, she was asked if her personality ever got her in trouble at work. What did this tell her about the organization and its culture, its personality?

As if the position for which you are being interviewed is a new position or a replacement. If new, why? If a replacement, why? Discomfort with addressing replacement questions can indicate a problem. Frequent turnover at an organization also clearly indicates a problem.

Ask questions about the company’s culture and management style. For example, how would you describe the management style and culture of the company? How are projects initiated and managed?
What kind of person succeeds in this organization? What kind of person are you looking for?

Ask strategic questions to provide context to the interview and your subsequent questions. What is the current situation in the organization? What challenges are you facing? What initiatives are you undertaking to meet these challenges? This information can give you important background information to understand the challenges and needs of the business.

An Educated Consumer

Last, but not least, be an educated consumer in your job search. Listen to what people tell you about the organization. If you keep hearing the same refrain over and over, something must be going on. Research the company to find out about lawsuits, businesses sold, businesses bought, mergers and acquisitions, profits and losses, stock price over time, management changes, layoffs, etc. Do your due diligence to know what you are getting into. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Promote your Business in the New Year

Promote Your Business in the New Year!


The New Year is an optimal time to review your personal and professional goals, establish personal and professional objectives, undertake new business initiatives as well as expand your client base.

Some questions to ask yourself include
• What are my strong skills?
• What do I enjoy doing and derive pleasure out of doing?
• What do I want to do more?
• What things do I want to do less ?
• What are my short-term and long-term professional and personal goals?
• What areas in law do I want to focus on more ?
• Which areas do I want to focus on less or eliminate entirely?
• What new and emerging areas in my field could enhance my professional skills and provide additional revenue streams?
• Where can I get additional training in the areas I want to focus on?
• How can I enhance existing relationships?
• What new relationships do I want to develop?
• What new audiences and clients do I want to attract?
• If I want to leave my field, what new areas do I want to pursue and what are the opportunities in these fields?

Target Your Audience

Having done some soul-searching, identified your skills and professional and personal goals, you need to target your audience.
• Who are you trying to reach? Which market? Which audience?
• What are their needs and interests?
• What are some challenges they are facing that you can help them with?
• What value-added skills, knowledge and experience do you bring to help them with these challenges?
• What is the best way to reach this audience?

Develop your Marketing Materials

Having targeted your audience and analyzed their needs, you should then develop your targeted marketing materials. These materials could include:
• A 30 second commercial – to use when networking with clients and other professionals
• A personal Web site
• LinkedIn Profile (
• Brochures (
• Business Cards (
• Promotional Offers – e.g. free legal checkup
• Blog (
• Twitter account (
• Client database ( Microsoft Outlook Business Manager, Access)
• Email service (
• Webconferencing service (
• A business plan to give you direction in expanding your business. Small business development centers at univerisites and colleges can help with these plans.

(Please note that the above resources are examples. I do not have any links to these resources, do not endorse their products or services and take no responsibility for the quality of these products or services).

All of the marketing materials listed above should highlight Your Value Proposition you bring to your targeted audience:

• Your Background and Experience
• Your Skills and Expertise
• Your specialized knowledge
• Your Accomplishments and Results
• Your key differentiators: what makes you different from other people in your field

Your 30 Second Commercial

It’s important to develop a 30-second commercial to use when networking with new clients or other professionals at networking meetings. The purpose of a 30 second commercial, also called an elevator pitch, is to quickly and succinctly introduce yourself highlighting your background and area of expertise to arouse interest from a prospective client. To develop this pitch., use the outline below:

• Your name: Introduce yourself fully, first name and last name
• Professional Brand Identify and Experience:
• What you are seeking:

Example of a 30 Second Commercial

Name: I am Kathy Jackson
Professional Brand Identify and Experience: I am a lawyer specializing in commercial litigation in the construction industry. I have worked for major law firms and have won more than $ a million dollars in cases.
Seeking: I am looking for help commercial construction companies successfully resolve their litigation cases.

Push versus Pull Techniques

To attract new clients, you can use push and pull techniques. Using a combination of techniques will strengthen your marketing efforts.

Push techniques are when you reach out directly to new clients. This can include conducting targeted marketing campaigns to reach out to new clients using email services and your client contact database as well as online groups.

Pull techniques are when you attract new clients to you by giving free talks to professional associations, networking groups, writing articles, publishing a blog giving tips about your area of expertise, sending Tweets about your areas of expertise and alerting potential clients to your blogs and articles and using LinkedIn to provide tips to your contacts and groups.

Use Networking to Reach new Clients

The purpose of networking is to establish reciprocal relationships. It is a quid-pro-quo where you give as well as you get.
After you have targeted the audience you are trying to reach, identify the professional associations and groups where you can reach this audience. Attend their meetings and network with participants. Get the business cards of people with whom you connected and schedule follow up meetings. Meet them for a coffee or a drink. Join organizations and get involved in special committees. Chair certain events. Give talks. Volunteer at organizations. Join their board to help them with their strategy and direction. Join alumni associations and reach out to alumni, always a welcoming group of people.
Reach out to your inner circle of friends, family and professionals. Let them know what your plans are. Expand your inner circle into an outer circle of professionals that you have met through your expanded networking efforts. Be open to new connections and suggestions from your networking contacts. Treat this as an opportunity to expand your horizons.

Use Social Media

Needless to say, social media has become a very important medium to communicate and reach potential clients. The most important questions to ask before using social media are “who do I want to reach? what are my goals with social media? and what is the best way to reach my audience?” Examples of social media include the following applications:

• LinkedIn
• Twitter
• Facebook
• You Tube
• Meet up
• Stumble Upon
• Delicious
• Digg
• Flickr
• Tumblr
• Wikis
• Blogs
• Nings
Experiment and learn how to use these tools to reach your targeted audience. Unless you have a full time social media marketing manager, focus on using the top three or four tools that enable you to reach your targeted audience. On-line social media tools are a powerful way to attract new clients and grow your market.


As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day” so draw up your plan to promote yourself and your business and take small steps, one day at a time. Small incremental steps can add up to you significantly increasing your knowledge about your targeted audience and the best way to reach them.

Carla Visser
Founder, Global Human Resource Solutions LLC