If you trek wildernesses, climb mountains, longboard, snowboard, wave ski, hang glide or simply live in a cold climate, you've likely seen people sporting outfits with the Patagonia label. Its founder started his first business at age 18 in order to fund his "dirtbag" adventuring lifestyle, and that spirit remains very alive at Patagonia. And for those interested in a job at the outdoor-outfitter that is frequently on best places to work lists, you have to prove that this spirit is pumping through your veins.
"We're kind of a tribe here," says Patagonia spokeswoman Jess Clayton. "People have been here for a long time. We want to hear: What is it about Patagonia that you like?"
Clayton says that the company once received a resume clipped to an old Patagonia jacket. Some hopefuls have written songs. One person camped out in the parking lot.
While dress is supremely casual at Patagonia, Clayton recommends that applicants "err on the more conservative side when it comes to interviews." If you get the job, then you can start wearing your boardshorts and Hawaiian tees.
Interviews can be one-on-one, or with a panel of up to 10 people. "Patagonia is very flat," Clayton says. "A lot of decisions are made by teams or groups."
While that may sound, and be, incredibly intimidating, Clayton emphasizes that the interviews are relaxed and informal. "We try to figure out who the person is behind the job stuff," she says. "What do they love? What are their passions?"
Passion is a big part of Patagonia's brand. Once the company's founder and CEO Yvon Chouinard realized that his now wildly successful global brand was having a somewhat destructive effect on the world he cherished, he defined the company's mission as "to use business to inspire and implement solutions the environmental crisis."
So applicants should believe the environment is in crisis, want to do something about it, and ideally be doing something about it already. Interviewees are frequently asked what an important environmental issue in their area is, and if you volunteer for the cause that will be a major plus in Patagonia's natural fibered, hemp-bound book.
Patagonia is hiring right now for a host of positions at its California headquarters, including product development and IT, as well as for manager of its environmental campaigns and a graphic design position. (You can find out more here.)
Folks interested in working retail at one of the brand's approximately 30 stores should just show up and ask for an application. Even if the store says it's not hiring, you might get lucky, and during the seasonal uptick Patagonia will go on a hiring spree, which is "a good time to get a foot in the door," says Clayton. Once you're in, however, the low turnover and sustainable (and so pretty slow) growth means that it can be hard to advance with speed, according to a few employees writing anonymously on Glassdoor.com.
But if you dig the Patagonia brand, there's a good chance that you'll dig the Patagonia work culture. "If you love surf and the surf is good at 10 a.m., you can go surf as long as you don't have a meeting," says Clayton. "And then you come back and work through lunch and no one's going to judge that."Looking for an outdoorsy job near you? Start your search here.
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