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Why a cultural fit is at least as important as your salary

Want to find the job of your dreams? Then you need to focus on your cultural fit!


What do you prefer? Waking up every weekday with a smile because you will soon start your work or counting down the hours until the end of your working day? Cultural fit has a direct impact on your happiness at work. It will (even) determine if you are going for the long run at a company. How do you find/detect (such) a cultural fit? This article will reveal everything you need to know about cultural fit.... 



What is a cultural fit and why should you pay attention to it?

Did you know that 22% of employees leave their job within 45 days after their first day in a new job? Quite a lot, isn’t it? Often the problem here lays in a mismatch with the corporate culture (of their employer). 


A cultural fit is extremely important for your personal growth and career progression. By relating your own values and core drivers to those of your organization, you are able to meet your intrinsic needs. Let’s assume you value integrity and solidarity, you’re much more likely to feel comfortable in an environment that’s driven by the same values. You’ll be more motivated to invest in your job and your own development – resulting in less work stress and more job satisfaction! Salary, on the other hand, is a good example of an extrinsic motivation. Of course, it is important but it will never truly motivate you or make you happy.


Other beneficial effects of the cultural fit are organisational commitment, increased loyalty of employees, less employees who want to leave the company and higher employee satisfaction. If there is a mismatch between individual and company, you can already imagine the negative effects this entails...

How to figure out which culture you prefer?

In order to determine whether a corporate culture suits you well, you first have to ask yourself a number of things. It is important to determine which values are important to you and to what extent they correspond with the values that are present in your (future) company. To get a better understanding of cultures, we use the Competing Values Framework (1983, Robert Quinn and John Rohrbaugh). It has been found to be a useful model for explaining as well as understanding the different corporate cultures. The framework has two dimensions. On the one hand, we have the dimension which differentiates an emphasis on flexibility, discretion, and dynamism from an emphasis on stability, consistency, and control. On the other hand, we have the dimension which differentiates an internal orientation with a focus on integration, collaboration, and unity from an external orientation with a focus on differentiation and competition.

Once you understand the two different dimensions, you can distinguish four cultures.


Clan is a friendly, family culture. The most important thing here is not to be the best, but to do your best. This culture is for born team players who enjoy working together. The colleagues form a tribe, teambuilding's that are highly valued, and they live by the saying “you grow, we grow”


Hierarchy is a structured company characterized by bureaucracy. Here it is extremely clear what is expected from you and to whom you will report. The company focuses on efficiency and control. It’s a stable culture with clear career paths, career development programs, and the opportunity to specialise and develop your expertise. 


Adhocracy is an innovative culture. Here it is sometimes less clear what is expected from you, the focus is on the market and they are constantly working on how they can remain relevant and to what extent they can adapt. Flexibility reigns here and the employees are often born entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs are also present, to promote innovation. 


Market is a result-oriented culture. It is clear what is expected from you and especially what must be achieved. You can determine yourself to a certaingo-getting” extent how you achieve these goals. Those companies aim high, set challenging targets and value ambition and competitiveness.


Curious about your matching corporate culture? Discover it on www.myShortlist.be

How to find out which culture a company has?

Now you have found out which culture suits you; it is time to discover which culture rules where. In other words, how do you know by which culture your dream company is characterized?


To be honest, discovering the culture within a company is difficult from a distance. You can read a lot on the website of the company, but this does not tell you everything. After all, a website is often built by a marketing agency, not by core employees, so it gives an insight but doesn’t reveal all its secrets. You can also look at the company’s social media channels, these often give a good indication of the company culture present.

Another tip: Keep your eyes open! Even from the moment you enter the parking lot, you can learn a lot about the culture of a company. Are there permanent parking places for higher management? It’s a sign of hierarchy. Does the CEO speak friendly to the cleaning team? This might be a sign of a clan culture. Does the company embrace rapid change and produces new products or services at high speed? This might be an indication of an adhocracy culture. Do you see a wall with employer of the month or sales manager of the month? Then you are in a market environment. You can also learn a lot by checking how the receptionist approaches you. How is the atmosphere in the elevator? How was your first email answered?



But the best indicator to reveal a culture? Dare to ask employees about their work environment and ask questions during your application process. You can always try to find employees online, on LinkedIn you mostly will find who you need. This way you can make connections within the company and find answers to your questions. For example, you can ask an employee how they experience working in the company. Why does this person enjoy working here? And is there anything he / she would have liked to know before starting here? What makes this company different from competition? During the selection process you will meet the HR department. You can ask them what qualities were decisive for the previous person who held the position for which you are applying. Here you will not only find out what the HR manager is looking for, but you will also find out whether it is important that you fit in with the company culture and how they talk about ex-team members. It is also interesting to ask what a day in the company looks like. Do they have flexible hours, short coffee breaks, do they work overtime a lot?  Furthermore, ask your network what they know about the company. Maybe you have friends, family or followers on your channels who could help you.



Finding a comprehensive answer about a corporate culture is difficult. It is important to start with yourself. Think about your own priorities, the way you prefer to work and look at your own values and compare them with those of the company. That way you will soon know if you have a chance of success. Keep your eyes open, ask questions and address your network when evaluating a potential employer. This will help you make an informed decision about your next step. Good luck in finding your ideal company culture!

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