You’ve submitted your resume, aced the interview, landed the offer, passed the background and drug screenings, received your start date and are now ready to take this company by storm. You have secured your “seat at the table”. You are in the position to show then prove that this company made the right decision by bringing you onboard. You have every intention of owning this role. You are qualified. You are credentialed. They know it, they hired you.
You get to your first meeting and realize that you do not look like anyone else “at the table”. Either by your own observations or outside feedback, you have identified that you are sticking out like a sore thumb. Naturally, as the reader, your mind starts to wonder if I am suggesting the difference is racially, physically, sexually, economically driven or simple insecurity.
Cultural fit taps into every aspect of the aforementioned, and companies are going to great lengths to make sure candidates fit the culture, often by using personality tests. Although your talent and skills were sufficient enough to land your opportunity, blending into the environment will ultimately keep you there. It is also your responsibility. So I can’t be myself? I have to conform? I have to change into what my employer wants me to be?
Absolutely not and absolutely! Very often teams take personality tests to give everyone else on the team an idea of how each individual likes to work. You have to know the industry in which you work in order to thrive in it. Rule one for affecting any type of change: you have to understand the environment, and then be welcomed in it to gain credibility. Without credibility, you will not be effective. There is a reason why service industries require uniforms.
Although they are supporters of individuality, their brand cannot be compromised by it. To avoid this type of damage, they ensure that everyone looks the same. Corporate America is no different. Tech industries allow for a more comfortable and relaxed look.
Their primary brand is intellectual, it is digital presentation, its image is data output but that material is driven by people. It is proven that thoughts naturally flow better in relaxed environments. Office settings vary by the nature of their product. The Sales industry promotes business casual at minimum for both comfort and presentation.
The Media industry promotes a very polished and neat look, be it business casual or casual. As much as we would like to deny this reality, we judge credibility based on physical presence. This mindset doesn’t change by location; it’s consistent from the boardroom to the locker room.
How much has what you look like, affected your promotion? What can you do to change the way that you are viewed?
It’s our duty to fit into the culture that we expect to impact.