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Things like company blogs, weekly cocktails and high-concept retreats are much more than fun perks; they're important markers of an interactive agency's culture - and they can tell you a lot about whether a job will position you for professional excellence or leave you stalled in a bad workplace sitcom.
So along with questions like what cool accounts you'll get to work on and whether the health plan covers IVF or acupuncture, there are five areas of a prospective employer's culture you should make sure to explore before signing on the dotted line.
There's more to success than design principles, computer skills and copywriting chops. To do your best work, you need full immersion into your new work culture: how things get done, how people collaborate and the core philosophies that tie it all together. How will your new agency bring you up to speed?
For example, at Organic, we want our employees to understand how our agency creates empathy with consumers, gets into their hearts and minds, and speaks to their needs. So we invite about 30 employees each quarter to Camp Organic, a combination workshop/competition/adventure that puts our employees on the streets of Las Vegas to examine Consumerus Americanus in its natural habitat, then develop campaigns for a fictitious product based on their findings.
Back at the office, our All Hands internal blog helps people understand what's going on at the agency and why it matters, from the tools we're using to the fun we're having.
Another approach: Organic's Three Minds blog reaches an audience far beyond our company, giving our employees the opportunity to develop and showcase their insight into the broader culture within which we operate, from the evolution of the game show to the YouTube-ization of presidential politics.
Little touches like pet insurance, dry cleaning, massage and even on-site nail care can keep your stress level low so your creativity stays high. And don't take standard options like weekly cocktails and bagel breakfasts for granted, either. You never miss them until they're gone - and then you miss them a lot.
Is this all adding up to a lot to ask for? It should. Your job hunt is a rare opportunity to make fundamental changes in your work life. And if the hippest places to work are also the most professionally fulfilling - why waste your career anywhere else?
TalentZoo.com is the online destination for both job seekers and employers in the communications industry. It's also a must for up-to-the minute content on industry trends, news, career guidance, or just to schmooze. Find a better life with Talent Zoo (http://www.talentzoo.com).
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