Amazon.com recently surpassed Wal-Mart to become the worlds largest retailer by market value. Amazon.com has over 180,000 employees working worldwide, making it hard for the company to develop and maintain a culture that is embraced, and in line with the perceptions that people have of its brand.
"Brand is how others see you, culture is how you see yourself."
This became evident after a New York Times article last Sunday - "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace".
Over 100 current and former employees were interviewed for the article. The company made some employees available, but ensured that none of the senior management team were involved. The 'bruising culture' described included, long hours, high expectations, and an annual culling of workers as well as managers who lacked empathy for employee’s personal challenges, driving many to tears at work.
For a prospective Amazon employee reading this article, it might have been enough to put them off even thinking of applying.
As you can imagine the company was quick to respond.
The CEO, Jeff Bezos, and others commented for a follow up article - "Jeff Bezos and Amazon Employees Join Debate Over It's Culture", saying "I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market."
An Amazon engineering employee, (or Amazonian as they are known), Nick Ciubotariu, wrote a very long LinkedIn piece (after having it taken down from the New York Times comments section). It has received over a million views and nearly 1,000 comments - An Amazonians Response. He felt strongly enough to do this, countering the claims made in the New York Times article, even though company social media rules forbid this type of action.
There has been coverage across the business and mainstream media all week.
This article and the subsequent 'fall out' has meant it has changed how we see Amazon’s brand. Instead of thinking of their fast delivery, readily available product, and advanced technology, we now consider their workplace culture. Depending which side of the story you believe, there is either congruence or a disconnect.
So when you are assessing a potential new employer, how you can you determine if their workplace culture lives up to their brand?
Three steps on "How to ACE Connecting Your Personal Brand to Your Work;
1. Assess the Company
- What are your perceptions of the company's brand?
- What are they known for that differentiates them?
- Who do you know that works or has worked for them? LinkedIn is a great source of employees and ex-employees.
- Go to their Careers or Jobs page on their website. Amazon was accused in the article of being secretive with their 'Leadership Principles' - but in fact they do have them openly accessible on their own Jobs Page.
- Check out websites such as Glassdoor, CareerCup and Q
uora for insights in to what people have experienced and, if its a tech company how the company hires.
- Do a general Google search to see what else comes up.
2. Consolidate the Information
- Divide a piece of paper or spreadsheet in to three columns with the headings of True, Possible, and False.
- Put all the pieces of information you have gathered and assessed under one of those headings and discard anything that seems really obscure or extreme.
3. Execute a Strategy
- Make a decision about the company based on what you have found out. Either they become a target potential employer or your reject them.
- If they are a target employer add them to your 'Watch List' of companies that you track via Google Alerts, LinkedIn and any relevant job boards.
- Also add them to your 'Outreach One Pager' that you share with networking connections and ask them if they have contacts or introductions they can make. If you already subscribe to this list just hit reply and I will send an example of the Outreach One Pager and instructions. Otherwise Click here for more information and an example template on this unique career tool . Most experts will tell you that your next job is likely to come from networking and the outreach document can be a job search game changer.
- Apply for relevant roles and look to get informational meetings with senior managers in the organization.
- Use the information gathered to compile a list of questions to ask at those meetings and interviews. This will show you have done your homework and help you stand out from most other candidates.
Quick Shortcut to the ACE process: What are the values of the organization and do they align with your personal brand values? If they do not, you can stop right there. Turning up to work for a company every day with your values compromised is hard, stressful and ultimately no fun at all. No matter how good the job or the pay.
When an organization aligns with your personal brand it is much more likely that you are going to enjoy working there and love what you do. Check out this great Infographic from my personal brand colleague John Antonios - "Personal Branding - The New Corporate Culture".
How have you assessed a fit with an organization for your personal brand?