As Recruiters we always want to find the right opportunities for our candidates. Culture is always a topic of conversations. Our candidates talk about laid back, friendly, collaborative, positive, or entrepreneurial culture- the list can go on. I recently spoke to a close friend of mine who went from a Worldwide Advertising Agency to a small 20-25 person agency.

“Culture was a big obstacle since my very first day at my first agency. It was a really large, worldwide agency, and I knew I didn’t stand a chance.
I entered the Advertising business as a 30-something artist of many disciplines. My art wasn’t very marketable, but I knew how to keep my head above water via my various jobs – sign maker, landscaper and bartender being my three favorites.

Entering my new world full of corporate-conscious, financially motivated people was a culture shock, especially when I saw how many positions were required to do the myriad things I previously did by myself everywhere else prior. I began to learn the ebb and flow of my new environment, finding its strengths and weaknesses. I began to understand the nuance of this new vocation.

I began to find my “place” when I started to enjoy, and excel at, my work. I made friends. I had a blast at the huge parties — all more opulent than the last – but I couldn’t shake how the bombast of the parties rose while our bottom line, and our wages, did not. It seemed like the executives were going out of their way to impress each other at the expense of the hundreds of people who depended on their prudence.

After four years of making the proverbial lemonade, I knew I needed to jump ship. I needed a place that valued work above artifice. When I found my new home, a much smaller agency, I knew the industry didn’t need to be one particular way. I saw the entire horizon by eliminating one obstacle. I actually didn’t feel like a great fit here initially. I didn’t know how to distinguish my new situation from the last one I couldn’t help but run from, but I could NOT be happier now. The small shop is my kind of shop. That’s what I need. People I work with, who started their careers at my new spot, look out their windows longingly at new horizons. I know some of them would do amazing things in the very environment I couldn’t wait to leave. Some might call that “greener grass”, but I just call it “variety”, the spice of life.”

How well you fit into a company’s culture depends entirely on your personality traits and outlook. These are intrinsic to you — you can’t fake it, and unlike your skills or salary, you can’t “build up” to a good cultural fit.