Going out into the job market after deciding that you no longer want to work for your employer reveals interesting tidbits about your company that you, essentially, have no control over but gets associated to your work. Like stereotypes, the characteristics of the company culture are associated with your work and effects your ability to get another position.
Take, for example, my former employer. I was told by a recruiter that the reputation is “slow and steady” and not really very fast-paced. An interesting viewpoint, considering I’ve never worked for a group that was so fast paced with decisions made every day about the business.
But, there’s the stigma. How do you fight the perception that your work is the company stereotype?
- Know what the reputation is for your company in the market. Ask your friends at other companies what the book is on employees from your company. You can’t fight what you don’t know.
- Have performance talking points that support a good performance culture or counter a poor performance culture. If your company is known for great performance and that is what the interview is about, have your points lined up that show you contributed to the good performance culture. If your current company’s view is poor, have performance examples that counter the prevailing assumptions that will get carried over to you and your work.
- Listen for hints of poor performance stereotypes during your interview. If you hear them, you can acknowledge how some may think of the company that way — but you are different.
- If your company is in the news — layoffs, budget cuts, investigations — acknowledge those news items unilaterally during the interview and show how your performance was not like the stereotype out there. For example, I would guess that every employee that worked at Enron has had to explain what they did there — and what they didn’t do there. Don’t let the interview go and let poor perceptions stay in the head of the hiring manager; have a discussion about it.
It is important for people who work in cubes to know that they have a reputation that has nothing to do with them, but comes from their company. That is the starting point for a recruiter or hiring manager about your work. Work the stereotypes about your company so that your work — and personal brand — shines.