Ask Ms. Judy: Sage of the Senior Job Search—Part 5

February 28, 2018
Ask Ms. Judy

Tips, Wisdom and Just Plain Old, Good Advice for Mature Job Seekers
By Ms. Judy Cherry, Career Advisor/Program Coordinator, JEVS Career Solutions for 55+

So many of my clients come in worried about finding employment at age 55, 65, 75. They don’t think they’ll get hired. They don’t think they’ll fit in. The reality is that HR managers often seek mature job seekers because of their experiences, work ethic and…let’s be frank here…the fact that they’ll show up to work each day!

But where many seniors fail in the interview process and then on the job, is that they lack an understanding of the company culture. Because I’ve seen this happen so many times over, I’d like to dedicate this Ms. Judy article to answering common questions about culture and how you can succeed within it!

1. I’ve heard of company culture and cultural awareness in the workplace. Is this the same thing? 

MS. JUDY: While these terms may seem the same, let me clarify because they are, in fact, different. Simply defined, culture is often thought of as relating to cuisine, religious practices and geographical locations. Cultural awareness has to do with learning to appreciate, work and engage with coworkers of different cultures, races, nationalities and backgrounds. With an increased focus on diversity in the workplace, employees should work to understand and appreciate their coworkers’ differences. This helps to enhance communication and unity. Cultural awareness also promotes productivity and happiness. That’s what we all want, right?

I hope I haven’t lost you, because here’s the other definition that you’re looking for: company culture. This is what an employer establishes through a written mission statement or by incorporating certain values and expectations from its employees. For example, some employers have a company culture that expects employees to accomplish goals as part of a team, while other more traditional employers prefer a formal management style and with less collaboration.

2. How can I be aware of a company’s culture during the interview process?  

MS. JUDY: Many times you will find that a company web site includes some language about its company culture, core values, and vision. Online job listings also often include this information. For an example, you can see what are the JEVS Core Principles here. (Later in this blog, there will be a pop quiz on these!) If you’re having trouble finding information about a company’s culture, search on the Internet for articles or press releases about the company. Or, you can get a sense of their company culture by reading their social media feeds. (Yes, I want you to go on Facebook or Twitter, my friends!)

An applicant is expected to articulate and communicate in a direct, focused and concise manner by describing their relevant experience and qualifications during the interview process. Appropriate responses must be considered carefully. Before you go on a job interview, be sure to read and understand what the employer is expressing about its company culture. Then, try to match those ideas in your presentation of yourself. For example, if a company culture embodies innovation, talk in the interview about any new processes you developed in a former job. Or, describe an instance from your past when you improved something because of your outside-of-the-box thinking style. Giving examples in line with the company culture will demonstrate to the interviewer that you “get it” and you could potentially fit in.

3. Once I get the new job, how can I be sure to “practice” the company culture?   

MS. JUDY: Behaviors in an interview may be perfectly acceptable then, but may not be acceptable after you land a job. For instance, explaining how your knowledge and expertise helped you to build a career or mentioning the names of influential people you knew that helped support a company goal, is great in the interview. But, once you’re in the work environment, “self-disclosure” and “self-awareness” does not mean boasting about your past, never-ending accomplishments. Constantly “dropping names,” dominating every meeting conversation by recalling irrelevant experiences, or reminiscing about “how the good old days were good old days.” Yikes. This is a great way to not fit in. This is going to hurt, but take Ms. Judy’s advice, if you expect that your new co-workers will be impressed or defer to your experience, you may be in for a big surprise. Instead, you may be regarded as not only boring, but counterproductive to the employer’s efforts to build teams that can support morale. There, I said it. Please don’t hate me. It’s true!

My last piece of advice on this topic is this: employers don’t like negativity. Frequently, I have warned job seekers to refrain from revealing negative information about a former employer—whether they are in their new job, attending a public employment workshop, or at a new hire orientation. Employers expect former employees to remain loyal even after they leave the company. Don’t get caught airing out a company’s dirty laundry in any situation. Negative comments can be compared to the roots of a tree—roots that can extend in many different directions—and that’s a red flag to an employer trying to live its company culture!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my fifth installment of Ask Ms. Judy! Now you have a basic idea of preparing for an interview or starting a new job, and not only considering cultural awareness, but how you can embrace company culture.

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Be sure to check back for my next blog of Ask Ms. Judy. Here are my previous versions:

> Part 1, click here

> Part 2, click here

> Part 3, click here

> Part 4, click here

If you are a Philadelphia resident over age 55 and looking for a new part-time or full-time job, I can help you. (For free!) Call me at JEVS Career Solutions for 55+ at 267-647-7137 or click on this link for more info. https://jevshumanservices.org/job-readiness-career-services/career-solutions-for-55/

Posted in JEVS Blog