Tl;dr: In this blog post I talk about my experience of looking for a job using a couple of creative strategies that helped me find an EA job that’s a really good fit.
This is quite a thorough and long post as I believe there is value in having it in one place rather than short separate posts. I’ve included a super short informative summary below and also a summary at the top of each of the sections so that you can decide whether to skip it or dive into the details.
Super short summary
- Build and use your network and actively tell people you’re looking for a job
- Offer to solve the employer's problem to access hidden opportunities
- Do the reverse: create your own “wish list” and send it to your network and employers (download my free template here)
- You can fundraise for your role or apply for job-search funding
- Go broad with your search
- Choose your manager
- Add your name to databases
- Show your work to the community and consider starting your own project
- Some tips on dealing with job-related rejections creatively
Who is this blog post for?
- Anyone looking for a job (I did this for EA, but some of my tips will apply to jobs outside of EA too)
- Anyone who would like to learn about creative 2022 (EA) job-hunting strategies.
- Anyone, as jobs are not permanent. This blog post has a lot of long-term strategies that everyone can benefit from.
Why am I writing this?
About six months ago, I wrote about how I got my EA-aligned job, which many people found very useful. It so happened that I left the role I had got before writing that post and was looking for a job again! This was a fantastic opportunity to test out some new strategies and share them with you.
It took me exactly a month to find my first paid short-term contractor offer in an EA charity for 7 weeks. I got an idea to run my own project after two weeks of looking for a job. I also got a full-time offer for a job that’s a really good fit roughly three months after I left my previous job. So, these methods work, but of course, I haven’t seen their full long-term impact yet.
This is my personal account, not a research paper and a claim that “it will work in 100% of cases for anyone”, and it doesn't reflect the views of my employer.
It’s worth noting that I’m a generalist which may have made it somewhat easier for me to get a job than for a specialist as I could apply for many things. You can pick and mix these ideas at your own discretion and adjust my advice to your own situation.
Your (good) network will get you a job
Tl;dr: grow your network before you need a job and your network will find you your next job. Some of the best jobs are not advertised, and referrals can make a difference.
A better and bigger network will make job hunting a lot easier. I said it once and I’ll say it again: do not, ever, stop networking, even if you already have a job. It’s the best time to grow your network when you’re involved in some kind of a project. People will want to speak to you because you are a part of an organisation or can help them as a part of your role.
When I got my previous EA role, I connected with as many people as possible to make the project succeed. I added roughly 30 people to my high-quality connections (people I could ask for a favour). I added even more people into “they know I exist” kind of connections.
When I left my job, I made a couple of posts on LinkedIn and Slack about being available for work. I got messages from people suggesting jobs and projects. Almost all of these people were from my “new” network from this recent job. I’m convinced that I would never get as many new opportunities if not for these new relationships. The final job offer I got was from a person who I met because of my “new” role I got back in 2021.
The main takeaway here is that it’s already too late to build your network when you’re looking for a job. Of course, job search can grow your network, but you can’t use it if you don’t have it yet.
Here are some top tips on easy ways to build a habit of building your network. You don’t have to use all of them at the same time.
- Take part in random 1:1s in your organisation/Slack space. For example, Slack has a Donut app that allows everyone to match with a random colleague for a chat each week. If you don’t have it in your team - suggest setting it up. No connection is ever useless. You never know what and who other people know. You can help spark an idea for a project the other person will do.
- Join relevant EA-Slacks that your organisation has access to. Write a short message to introduce yourself and join discussions. If you’re not working, some Slack (such as EA Communities) allow EA-aligned members who don’t currently work in EA.
- Use LinkedIn, even if you only do so once a month. Post about your work and add as many people from relevant organisations as you can. Write a short intro message about why you’re adding them.
- Add your current work collaborators on LinkedIn. Not everyone does it, but it’s an easy way to stay in touch. If they are not on LinkedIn, make a note of their email address. If you’re leaving your job, message everyone you worked with. Say you’d like to stay in touch and collaborate in the future.
- Schedule informational interviews, or ask for short specific requests. Such as, “hey, I’m doing X, I see that you’ve been an active contributor to the community about X, do you have any communities I should join or articles I should read?”. “Hey, I see you’re doing Y job and heard a lot of good things about your work, I also want to do Y jobs, could you tell me A, B, C please?” In such requests, don’t ask to be a mentee but focus on very short requests that anyone can do. Sometimes you’ll develop deeper relationships later.
- Use offline and online events to connect, as people participating have a much lower bar for connecting. I’ve noticed that at EAG I can get a meeting with pretty much anyone. Outside of EAGs, I need to ask people for introductions, as my LinkedIn messages are not always as successful. You can just go to a part of these events, like for speed introductions.
- Ask for introductions. If you are reading this post, chances are you already know at least one person in EA. Who does this person know? Ask them to introduce you to some relevant people. A follow-up on a meaningful introduction is very close to 100% if it’s done through your mutual connection. Ask them to send an email or a LinkedIn/Facebook message to introduce you two.
- Create a list of people you’d like to connect with: are they leaders of your favourite EA orgs? Are they good with fundraising or operations? Then, connect to these people using the methods above. When I was more junior I was really afraid of writing to more senior and experienced people but most of time they do reply and want to help, especially if you’re working for the same or similar cause. Everyone likes to be seen as an expert, so it’s quite flattering to be asked for ops or leadership tips. Always ask. Worst case scenario they’ll ignore you.
- A top tip for removing barriers to connecting is to set up a Calendly link. This way it’s easier for people to set up calls with you whenever it’s convenient for them. It’s quite polite to ask for 30 minutes of their time if you have a specific request. Some EAs will also be looking to grow their network and will be open to having an intro chat for 30 minutes.
- Set up a spreadsheet or a project where you’ll track how many people who you've connected to. If you’re generally quite introverted, networking can feel very unnatural and having a systematic approach to it can help. Set yourself a target of one person a week, or two a month. At the end of the year, you’ll end up with 20-50 meaningful connections!
- You need to remember that you two people benefit from connecting, not just you. Some people find it hard to network and think that they somehow bother other people. The other person will be happy to also add you to their network. So by reaching out you’re doing someone a favour, not only asking for one!
You can find more in-depth info in this networking guide for job seekers.
Tell people you’re looking for a job
Tl;dr: Message people you know (and don’t know) to say you’re looking. Otherwise, they won’t know and won’t think of you if an opportunity arises.
This is a bit of an obvious one, but I have to write about it. Don't be afraid of telling people you are open to work. If you don’t tell people, they won’t know, and they won’t send opportunities your way.
A super easy way of doing this is creating a template message and sending it to your network. Something like this: “Hey, I’ve left my role and now looking for other roles! You’re well connected in the X space, and I’d really appreciate it if you could forward me any potentially suitable roles in X you spot. I’m looking for remote roles with A, B and C, but open to other stuff". Don't be too precise to avoid missing out on interesting roles. At the same time, do give people an idea of what you're looking for to increase the likelihood that the roles will be suitable.
Some people will ignore this as they’re busy, but they may hear about a job and will think of you. Most people may not be able to think of opportunities straight away. However, they may come back to you later in the next 1-6 months and suggest a role or collaboration. This actually happened with my current full-time job offer. I casually messaged the CEO that I’m open to work, we bounced some ideas off each other about what we can do. Two months later she got back to me offering to participate in an application process for a role at her organisation.
Offer to solve the employer's problem to access hidden opportunities
Tl;dr: Don’t say “I’m looking for a job in PM”. Be more specific and put the organisation’s needs first. Say “I can help increase capacity by organising your team”. Prepare a short pitch/offer on how you can solve the organisation’s problem.
If you’re still only applying for advertised jobs, you’re missing out. As a rough estimate, at least 10% of the jobs never get advertised. Logically, they don’t have as many applicants, so you have a higher chance of getting them. To access them, you need to do a bit more investigating and outreach work.
Changing your profile to “Open to work” on LinkedIn is a must. Posting about looking for work everywhere will help. However, I’ve found that it's not very effective until you actually tell people what you can do, and how your skill can solve their problem.
For example, in my LinkedIn post, I said something like this: “I have great project management skills”. That's vague and doesn’t tell anyone anything of significance. Statements that worked much better were tailored and sent via private messages. "If you need help with fundraising, I can do it”. Or “I can see that your team has recently grown, would you like me to train them in project management?”
The latter was even more successful when someone else tipped me about what the org actually needed. If you get the problem wrong, you can either not get any interest or, worst case, mildly offend someone, which is not a big deal. Sometimes, the org will respond to say that that’s not a problem, but your profile shows that you can solve another problem.
No one is interested in giving a job specifically to you. All employers are concerned with how you (read: someone) can solve their problem. How you can help meet their organisational goals. If you're predicted to be the best at doing exactly that, then the employer will move heaven and earth to convince you to join them. If not, then they can’t care less, even if you’re the most impactful and talented EA in the whole world.
When I started my 2022-job search, I came across Austin Belcac’s newsletter. He advises job seekers to spend quality time diagnosing the organisation’s problem (by googling and networking) and then presenting a solution in a pretty slide deck. I haven’t done this, partly because my other strategies worked well, and partly because I didn't have the time. But I do think that if you really want to work for a specific org and have a bit of time, it’s worth having a go.
Be org-led. Always aim to understand as much as you can about what they really need, rather than what you’d really like to provide. It’s not about you at this stage.
Do the reverse: create your own “wish list” and send it to employers
Tl;dr: Create a 1-2 page Google doc (download a free template here) about you and your skills and share it with as many people as you’d like to get their feedback. They will likely reach out to you with opportunities and/or suggestions.
Have you ever wished that you didn’t have to apply for endless jobs and the employers just headhunted you? If you’re relatively early in your career like me, the answer is likely yes.
A really cool way of achieving a similar impact is reversing the process of hiring by creating a short document about who you are, what you’re good at, and what you’re looking for. I’ve borrowed this idea from Judith Rensing when she successfully used it in 2021. You can download a free template here.
It worked really well for me. I wrote this document originally to clarify my own thoughts and get some feedback about my career plans and it ended up being very useful in securing two roles, one temp and one permanent. I shared it individually or within my trusted communities, but not publicly. Some potential EA employers saw it too. Some people very kindly provided feedback on phrasing and how I can improve this document, which was useful.
There are some advantages and disadvantages of this strategy.
- You can position yourself in the best way possible without having to fit your individuality in application forms. The employers will know you better than other candidates, as you’ve provided all this extra information.
- You can attract employers who have similar culture to the one you prefer. Some employers told me that they really liked my ideal culture descriptions and appreciated my approach to management.
- If you know what you want pretty well, you can weed out a lot of employers who are not a good fit. If you’re saying “I want autonomy” but the potential employer wants an executor of their instructions, the job is not for you and it saves you both a lot of time.
- The employers who hired me used my document to create a role for me in the end and match my wishes to what I will be able to do in the organisation. I found that it really helped us come up with a win-win for both parties.
- In my post about inclusion in EA, I spoke about how hiring without a proper process can be bad for decision-making down the line. If you hire someone using the document I outlined, then you may end up hiring someone you like, or “a second you”. Ideally, when hiring, we need to have a wide pool of candidates with the right skills. This will help to hire someone who can provide a different perspective on things. Otherwise, we may hire someone from our bubble who happens to be in the right place at the right time.
- Sometimes, there isn’t a way to send such a document. For example, if you’re applying for an existing job, you have to fit the format, otherwise, it’s not very respectful of the recruiter’s time. You have to use different channels to distribute your document. I recommend that you send it under a different pretext. For example, don't say “hire me” but say “please provide feedback on my next steps and recommend what role can be a good fit”.
- There is no way you can tailor this information to all employers. Some employers may find that you’re not a good fit for, say, a recruiter role, as you said that you’d like to start a charity. In a normal application, you’d never say things that are not in line with that particular job. Here you have no way of not disclosing it because it’s “a one-size fits all document”. In a way, it’s a good thing, as you don’t waste any time applying for roles that won’t be a good fit.
- Some people can be put off by certain statements or misunderstand them. For example, one of my management descriptions was that I want the role responsibilities to be clear. But I got some feedback that it comes across like I want to be micromanaged. That was definitely not the case and is actually the opposite of what I was asking. I wanted more autonomy to operate within a role without having to go back to clarify who was the decision maker. Additionally, some people could have been put off by how demanding I was about what manager/culture I wanted, which is fair. I knew that there were so many jobs I could do, that being picky was a good strategy to have to do fewer applications. As a bonus, I did end up getting a role that was exceptionally a good fit for me.
Don’t be afraid to take temp opportunities
I’ve noticed that many people don’t like temp roles because they are not as good as permanent offers. In my experience, temp roles are an amazing opportunity to showcase your work in a real environment, and sometimes they can lead to more permanent roles. They are also a great way to figure out if this type of work is for you.
Apply for “job search” funding
Tl;dr: some foundations may give you a small grant so that you don’t have to worry about living costs while you’re looking for a perfect role.
This is a rarer option, as it’s not publicly advertised, but you can apply for a small grant to cover your living costs while you’re job hunting. I’ve seen it done by a couple of foundations, because they believed that the individual is very impactful. They believe that supporting them for a couple of months will ensure that they will stay in the movement and eventually find an impactful job.
I think it’s great, but in my experience, working is much better than “exploring” without working. I like working and wanted to make an impact for another organisation. Plus I wanted to experience working in another team and learn new skills. This decision is now paying off as the temp job that I had for 7 weeks gave me skills that I’m using in my current job.
You can fundraise for your role
Tl;dr: If your org doesn’t have the money to hire you, you can offer to help fundraise for your role.
This is not that new, but I’ve experienced it a lot during this job search. It’s potentially a promising way of getting jobs in underfunded new projects. It’s also very uncertain. After initially getting a lot of interest in my profile, some organisations said: “we would love to hire you but we have no budget”. We decided to fundraise for my salary. Some organisations will do it for you, some will ask you to help. But this is a great way of getting a job when the org is small or under-resourced. If you can say how you’ll add value, and why the org will be better off after hiring you, this is a good way to get hired. It also showcases that you have initiative, fundraising skills, understanding of the whole organisation and the movement in general, not just your role.
This does have disadvantages though. Firstly, you will have to be patient and you may need to wait for quite some time. Sometimes, the funding won’t come for a while and you’ll need to apply for something else or take a temp role. My suggestion is to leave it a good month or two at least and keep applying for other jobs/keep conversations going. Until you’ve got an offer and ideally, a signed contract, you shouldn’t stop searching for other opportunities. Just because the org is fundraising for your position, doesn’t mean you’re the only one who can have that position. One organisation said they’ll still advertise the role, not hire me automatically, which is fair enough. I successfully fundraised for a role at one organisation, but they changed their mind about hiring a new person.
Secondly, you may need to consider the likelihood that the funding will be available in the future. You should do it for all jobs though. If the organisation didn’t have the money to pay you in the first place, there have to be future resources they can apply to. Or you have to believe that the organisation will have this future. Unless, of course, you are only interested in a short-term contract yourself.
Go broad with your search
Tl;dr: It’s worth reevaluating what you want from a career while you’re looking for a job. Try and think broadly and consider more options, as it will help you discover new uses for your skills and will lead to better choices.
When I left my previous job, I found it hard to come up with a clear idea of what I wanted to do. This is partly why I created the “wish list” document (described above), as I wanted to list all my skills and figure out what I should do next.
The last time I job searched in EA in 2021, it took me five months to get an offer. This time, it took me only one month, partly because I went very broad. I was still picky but picky about the right things.
In 2021, my motto was: “I only want to do jobs related to animal welfare and only specific levels of responsibility, such as management or top management”. When I left my most recent job, I thought “I should just start another charity”. This was too narrow, however, as it just followed the pattern of what I did and didn’t really allow for creativity.
This time in 2022, my mission was: “I want an impactful job for which I’m a good fit, something I can enjoy doing and learn a lot”. This allowed me to apply for a lot more potential jobs and thus gave me more creative solutions. When I wrote my wishlist document, I was very vague about specific roles I wanted, which attracted a lot of potential opportunities I would never have even thought of, but was potentially a good fit for.
Even if you already know exactly what you want to do, I would still encourage you to go broad, even if it’s just an exercise of a couple of hours of brainwriting. Don’t be too set on one or two ideas, be open to other opportunities - you can’t know everything you can be good at. You may have some amazing transferable skills that will come very useful in a job that you might very much enjoy and make a lot of impact. I found out a lot about myself and my skills during some of the applications when I broadened my search. In the end, I only chose one job, but I’m a lot more confident that this is the right job for me because I applied for about 13 jobs this time.
The world where you had one career all your life is gone. Professionals are all about transferable skills and learning new skills quickly to meet the demands of a job that is the most impactful and right for you at the time.
I also recommend that you share your thoughts with fellow community members who will be able to provide feedback. They may trigger some of your thought processes and eventually help make better decisions. Here are some examples of feedback I got from sharing my “wishlist document”, which was super valuable (rephrased for clarity):
- “You should consider being a community builder with your skills”
- “Director of Operations roles always involves monotonous work, so it may not be a good fit for you if you don’t like admin”
- “You can do fundraising-related roles but this is mainly a specialist role, and you said you would prefer something more generalist”
- “You’ve got an excellent profile for a charity founder”
- “It looks like you shouldn’t apply for org X because the culture is very different from what you want”
- “You should chat to X, Y, Z about this as they may want to collab with you”
“Going broad” with your job search will improve the quality of your final choice. Adding even a couple more alternatives will help create better evaluation criteria. You’ll be more satisfied with your choice as you’ll feel that you’ve explored many options.
You can also “relax into” the job-hunting process if you apply for multiple roles, as you will feel that you have many options and don’t absolutely have to get that one dream job. I felt that during my interviews, I could be open and honest with potential employers. I asked a lot of questions, as I felt I had a lot of choices and wasn’t afraid of putting them off by being demanding. When I got rejections, I also felt fine as I had other things going for me and wasn’t desperate to get one particular job.
The only thing to watch out for is that “going broad” with your search is a lot more time-consuming and emotionally draining than applying for one or two roles. Job search is already really hard, it makes it twice as hard if your uncertainty is higher. It also takes much more time. If you are successful, you’ll participate in more application processes. If you’re applying for a variety of roles, you’ll have to do different trial tasks, which will stretch your comfort zone. I didn't work and I had full 8-hour days including weekends from applying, doing trial tasks, and attending interviews.
Show your work!
Tl;dr: publish your past work or create new work, like a project or a blog post to become more visible. It's not only a good way to get on people's radars but to also showcase your skills.
This is by far my favourite point here because it’s the most creative and it’s a lot of fun too. The key to this method is to publish your work or start projects that are more or less visible. People who liked what you did may reach out and offer you opportunities. For example, I started this animal advocacy newsletter. Within a couple of days/weeks, I got offers to participate in a couple of hiring processes. People a) noticed that I existed b) saw my work and thought it was good c) made a connection between what they wanted to be done and what I could do.
I got an offer to participate in a hiring process for a product manager in 2022 because I wrote a post about being a project manager back in 2021.
You don’t even necessarily have to do something new: think back to the work you’ve already done. Do you have some blog posts already? Maybe some design work you did, or a useful resource you created?
You can create a portfolio website where you can host all your work in one place and plug it where people may find value in it. Even commenting on the forum/LinkedIn is a good idea, as people will see you as someone thoughtful with an opinion.
Consider starting your own project
Tl;dr: if you can’t find a job/volunteering opportunity you’re excited about, consider starting your own project.
Sometimes you may feel that you haven’t done enough work that you’d like to showcase. That there are no organisations you’d like to volunteer for and you can’t seem to get any jobs that you’d like to do. In this case, you may feel that you’ve got some time on your hands. This may be a good opportunity to start your own project!
Your project doesn’t have to be massive or overly complicated. It can be anything from a couple of hours spent on writing up a blog to 6-12 months projects, or even a new organisation. I remember back in 2021 I ruled it out as I felt that I wasn’t qualified enough. But then I found out that starting new projects can be one of the most impactful things you can do. I tested my fit and realised that I really enjoy working in start-ups and setting things up.
Of course, you shouldn’t start any project just to occupy yourself or be visible. It’s worth considering the counterfactuals, and if your project can potentially do any harm. A good first step would be to talk to someone about your project idea, or simply write about it and post it on the forum. You may even find collaborators and will likely get good feedback about your idea.
There are many funding opportunities for new projects if you wish to do them full-time. With a bit of perseverance, and if your project is any good, you’re likely to get funding for it eventually. However, it’s not a given that you’ll definitely get the money immediately. If you have to pay the bills in the meantime, you may want to do your project part-time and find another job to cover your living costs.
Choose your manager
Tl;dr: your manager can make or break your success in a job. Concentrate on choosing someone who you’ll get on well with.
When I think back about what made my best jobs a good fit so far, they all had a manager I got on well with. Conversely, most not-so-good-fit jobs had a manager that I didn’t click with as much. When I went to interviews this time round, I concentrated on figuring out whether I liked the manager as a person.
It's often said that work is not personal, but you'll be spending a huge chunk of your week collaborating with this person. If you get on, you'll simply have a higher quality of life.
Good manager/employee communication is a very important factor in your job success. Recruiters often say “don’t choose a job, choose a manager”. While what job you do is important, a good manager can make or break your success in that job. You need to make sure that you “click”, or that your working style aligns. Being on the same wavelength is another way to describe it.
Think back to when you met your partner/best friend, or someone within the community that you get on well with. Try to remember how you felt and then look for these signs in your new manager. The famous airport test can help. Ask yourself “Would I want to be stuck in an airport with this person?”
Add your name to talent databases
Tl;dr: Add your name to a relevant database or two, and there is a chance employers will contact you about opportunities.
Lately, I keep hearing that people find jobs via specialised databases. Either an employer doesn't want to run a hiring round, or they are trying to get more candidates for their existing round.
There are no guarantees and these are not the same as applications.
Some databases I discovered so far (feel free to comment with more and I’ll add them):
Dealing with rejections creatively
Tl;dr: rejections are good and necessary if you want to find a good fit.
I wrote a little bit about this in my previous post, but I thought I’d include my updated thoughts and techniques about this. The whole idea about looking for a job creatively is about finding the right fit both for you and for the employer. Understanding this made me feel good about rejections, rather than hurt. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Rejection can lead to an opportunity
If you get a rejection email, make sure to write back to thank the employer for the opportunity to participate. In addition, state that you’ll be happy to participate in another hiring process and will appreciate any recommendations in their network. This works especially well for near-miss candidates.
You don’t want just any job
When I was a new graduate, I wanted any job, any opportunity. Now I’ve been working for 10+ years, I no longer want multiple offers and a lot of interest from everyone. I want the right fit, a good culture, a boss I get on well with, interesting work that allows me to grow, and work on something I truly believe in. I don't want a job that's not a good fit because I won't enjoy it and it will make me unhappy. Whenever I got a rejection, I told myself that it wasn't the right job for me. If I was such a perfect fit, and I’m genuinely the best candidate and would enjoy it a lot, I'd get it.
You can’t possibly be a good fit for everything
A lot of people take rejection really personally because they take it as an attack on their skills and personality (this includes me in the past). They behave as if they are supposed to get all the jobs they apply for because they want to be the best for all the jobs. Based on what I said about choosing a good manager/job/culture fit, you can see that even if you’re multi-talented, super experienced and a genius, only a very small number of jobs will be a good fit for you.
You will only know some things about the job after you start it. When you’re rejected from a job, it makes your life easier as it reduces your choices. The employer sees that you are not a good fit, which spares you the need to go in and find that out after you take the job.
It’s about solving the employer’s problem at the right time
It’s never about you personally, or about your skills and experience, but about you being able to solve the employer’s problem in comparison to other candidates at that precise time. There are a lot of internal and external factors that you will never discover, and none of them depend on you. Understanding this makes me feel a lot better equipped for rejection. When you look at it this way, it makes a lot of sense.
For example, if you’re choosing between a Mac and a Dell for your computer, you may select Dell because it runs your specialised texts to speech software that Mac doesn’t. Macs are obviously really good, but you don’t select them because they don’t solve your particular problem.
Choose the employer who chooses you
The best way to start a job is to get an employer who is 100% convinced that you're the best candidate. They should believe in you and have trust in you to get the job done. Otherwise, you’re not starting on the right foot from the get-go, as they'll doubt your every move when you start working. If someone rejected you, they don't choose you and you don't want to work for them either.
Sometimes you’re just not a good culture fit
Finding a job is largely about finding a culture that you like and will thrive in. I think a lot of new people looking for a job underestimate this point, because they may believe that all work is the same as long as they have the skills to do it. I also used to believe this and now I’ve learnt from experience that while there is no such thing as objectively good or bad culture, there is definitely a good and bad culture fit for you personally.
Culture is the atmosphere in the real or virtual working environment. It's the expectations for behaviour from all employees. Culture is all about how the company operates, its values, and how people communicate - formally and informally. How much freedom you have to make decisions, how the conflicts are resolved and any unspoken rules you should follow.
It’s hard to read the culture from the outside and usually, you will have to work in an organisation for a while to understand what kind of culture they really have. There are a couple of things you can do to get about 30% of the information before you start.
You can ask questions at your interview that will help you suss the culture out, or observe how your interviewers communicate with each other. You can ask other people who work there for their feedback about what it’s like. When selecting an employee to talk to, I’d pick someone as similar to you as possible, in terms of role/team/skills/ambition/personality type. For example, an organisation that seems toxic to you may be a perfect place for someone because you have different working styles.
Don’t hesitate to withdraw from applications if you believe that you’re not a good culture fit. Don’t get upset if you’re not chosen and you’re not sure why. Just like you, employers are trying to figure out if you’ll fit well within the team. If they think you won't, they spared you the time to start and find that out for yourself.
Maximising your rejections means that you try many things and that you are ambitious
I loved this post where the author talks about maximising your rejections. I think that it makes a lot of sense when you flip the situation from “omg I got rejected, poor me” to “wow, what a thing to be rejected from”, and “look at how many things I tried outside of my comfort zone”. I now have a list where I list all my rejections and it looks pretty impressive. Something that used to depress me now makes me very proud of all the shots I took.
Thanks for reading! I hope that this was useful. I would love to hear about other creative job-hunting strategies you used.