‘Bear’ in mind company culture for job search

Anyone interested in a position at a company should make every effort to understand more than the product line or business focus; they should also learn about the style of management and even the dress code, said Kim Isaacs, Monster resume expert for http://www.monster.com.

Company websites and brochures typically define the vision and mission, a prime indicator of what is important to the company. But this information alone will not reveal the subtle and more palpable factors that define the culture.

“Before applying to a company, it is a good idea to try to visit with someone who works there. If that is not possible, the applicant can always ask questions during the interview,” said career counselor Eileen Thomas.

Darlene Elder is director of bear and human resources for Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. where customers custom-make teddy bears to reflect their personalities. The company culture is very informal, fun and creative.

“One job applicant mailed me a resume with a teddy bear,” Elder said. “In the bear’s arm was a record-a-sound device. When I squeezed the bear’s arm, the bear spoke ‘Hire me,'” said Elder.

Normally, any HR director would frown at such a tactic, but Elder was excited by the creativity and moved quickly to get the applicant scheduled for an interview.

“We’re in the business of hugs,” she said. “The moral is that applicants should tailor their resume and cover letter to reflect the culture of the company they hope to join.”

The people who successfully apply at Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. understand this.

Elder regularly gets application letters written on teddy bear stationery, filled with puns about how the applicant can “bear-ly” contain their excitement about getting a chance to work for the company.

She said Build-A-Bear values creativity and enthusiasm for working with others.

Sending a gift or using unusual packaging for the resume might not work at many companies, but that does not mean that the application cannot be tailored to suit the company culture.

Lela Scott, a manager at the Essex Green Shopping Plaza in New Jersey recalled seeking her position at the upscale shopping center.

Scott, who had held a number of part-time jobs, made herself familiar with the shopping center.

She noticed the beautiful landscaping throughout the outdoor center. She also learned that the center catered to the arts community, with live classical music and jazz.

When she wrote her resume and cover letter, she emphasized the fact that she was trained in dance and had taught ballet classes. She also highlighted that she had worked in a landscaping center.

While these were jobs she held for only a short time, they differentiated her from others who talked about their administrative skills. The company wanted an office manager who could relate to its clientele.

She easily adapted to the culture and was later promoted to center manager, which set her on her career in property management.

“This knowledge will demonstrate your enthusiasm, resourcefulness and tenacity to a potential employer. Inserting yourself into the company’s environment from the start will make it easier for the hiring coordinator to envision your place within the organization,” Thomas said.

Contact Niema Haskell at famuanbusiness@hotmail.com