You know exactly what qualifications you’re looking for in your next candidate: skills, education, experience, etc. But your organization isn’t made up of Excel skills and phone etiquette, it’s made up of people. And while their skills are what move your business toward its goals and objectives, it is your employees’ human traits that make it a great place to work. You should be recruiting for those traits in addition to your basic qualifications. In fact, most skills can be taught, personality traits cannot. Recruit for culture fit.
Getting culture fit right is crucial. In a survey of more than 200 HR professionals, 90% of respondents rated recruiting for cultural fit as “very important to essential.” Harmony between employee and organization is critical for individual and team success. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, turnover due to poor culture fit can cost you anywhere between 50-60% of that employee’s annual salary.
As the market shifts towards a candidate-driven market, figuring out how to advertise for and attract the right culture fit will help you acquire the best candidates and increase your retention.
Defining your company culture
Can you define your organization’s culture right now? Articulating your organization’s culture (or unique “personality”) is the first step. Define the company’s goals, practices, values, and environment and be sure that your team knows it as well. This common language and element of transparency makes every employee accountable for upholding it.
Next, compare the culture of your organization to the microculture of your team. How are they the same? How do they differ? Are there elements of your microculture that may not fit well in other departments?
Then, take a look at the individuals on your team. What do you love about them? Make a list of these intangible skills, such as ability to work well under pressure or proactivity. Also, don’t be afraid to include traits that you wish your team had more of. Be sure to get feedback from your team as well. What do they need in their next teammate?
Expressing your culture
When it comes to attracting talent, communicate those cultural characteristics (company-level, team-level, and personal-level) to the outside world though your job descriptions and requirements. An extreme, but excellent, example is Blizzard Entertainment, known for their online video games. When looking for a Security Software Engineer, they listed in the description:
“Not only will you combat fraudsters, farmers and their minions, but also develop recommendation and engagement systems that provide real-time intelligence to our games. With petabytes of data at your disposal, you will be able to shape the future of Blizzard’s games!”
This engaging, video-game inspired language is communicating the skills they need and intriguing the people they want on their team. While it may seem less professional, they are demonstrating their culture and attracting their ideal applicants.
A standard job posting will get applicants who are looking for a job. On the other hand, a well-crafted, culture-rich post will attract applicants who “get” your company and are passionate about its practices.
Finding culturally-aligned candidates
Where you post is just as important as the description itself. With the market shifting towards a candidate focus, your best potential candidates probably already have jobs. These “passive jobseekers” are likely not actively scouring CareerBuilder and Monster – so how do you get your job opening in front of them?
First, always go for the referral. Check with your team; do they have friends or connections that would fit the job? Chances are your coworker will have a well-rounded view of the person they refer, in both a professional and personal sense, taking a lot of the guess work out of the candidate’s work ethic and potential culture fit.
If no one comes to mind, ask them to post the job on their social media or Alumni pages. This will not only attract candidates with different backgrounds, it will catch the eye of passive candidates who are on these sites for social reasons as opposed to professional.
From there, think of where you found your top performers, were they referrals? Think of where you might find that hidden culture fit. Where do they hang out? How can you get in front of them? Add these strategies to your traditional recruiting techniques.
Also, look into unique interest groups on LinkedIn based on the job requirements. LinkedIn hosts groups on almost anything else you can think of. Again, members of these groups are likely on there for social reasons. They visit these pages to ask and answer questions, and learn from others—providing you with an awesome opportunity to grab their attention.
Tip: You can search for specific skills on LinkedIn as well.
Hone in on candidates with your targeted traits, and check out the members of their groups. Send them personal, sincere, customized messages letting them know that you are interested in them. They will be flattered. Personal touches like this will make them feel important, and will help you stand out among other organizations.
It takes a village
If you’re having trouble defining what your department needs or what cultural traits you’re looking for, work with your company’s executive team, HR team or workforce solutions partner to clarify your company’s unique employment brand. About Talent has mastered the art of recruiting for culture. We at experts at uncovering and propagating our client’s distinct philosophies to active and passive jobseekers to ensure cultural fit.
In the end, you know and love your organization, and human beings are peculiar creatures. Sometimes a “dream candidate” won’t fit, and sometimes opposites attract. Your intuition is very powerful and you have all the tools to create your own dream team. The key is to craft the right message to attract the right candidate … and then, you must go find them in the right places. It’s worth the effort.