A job description, even one that’s well written, can only tell you so much about the role. It is a useful rough sketch but you must do a little sleuthing to fill in the whole picture.
Do Your Research
As we’ve said in the past, do your research. Read the job description closely. Words and phrases like “flexible, “fast-paced,” and “self-starter” might trigger some questions you’ll be sure to want to ask throughout the interview process. For example, if they are seeking someone to “work independently,” you may want to probe into what support would be available to you should you need it. Beyond the job description, spend some time on the company website and blog. Look at the tone of the staff bios and peruse their social media content. This should begin to give you a sense of the corporate culture that you would be expected to contribute to if offered the job.
Lean Into Your Recruiters
If the hiring company is using a search firm, recruiters are a great resource for better understanding the role and the company. Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you have especially regarding the history of the position, the team you’ll be working with and reporting to, and the environment you’ll be working in. Good recruiters have absorbed this information and come to know the culture of the company so that they can assess what kind of candidate will truly fit. They know as much as there is to know about the role and can help you understand the ins and outs of the opportunity and the organization.
Learn As You Go
Of course, no matter how many questions you ask, certain aspects of any new job won’t become clear to you until you begin. While you may feel the impulse to make a big splash early on (especially if you are moving into a leadership role), be sure to listen first. Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, says, “I advise new leaders to spend some time learning about culture and politics, even if they think they have been brought in specifically to change them.” In the beginning, absorb as much as you can about the organization’s history, structure, key players, strategies, market and inner workings. Show enthusiasm and say yes to lunch, drinks and other opportunities to get to know your new colleagues. If you find yourself in a job that is slightly different than what was described, be patient. There will be opportunity later on to shape the role to better suit your skill set.
Over time, once you’ve demystified the job and made it your own, you will be positioned for growth and progress in the company. To talk more about positioning yourself for a raise and promotion, join me at the Boston Young Women in Digital event tomorrow night, March 12.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.