How to Use Company Culture as a Recruitment Tool

Hands fist bumping.

When I was searching for a job after college I had two criteria I was looking for: it needed to be in the online marketing field and needed to be located in Raleigh. Let me tell you, there were a lot of companies that fit the bill. So I did what anyone my age would do next: I started stalking them all on Facebook. 

It so happened that one company stood out from the others: Coalmarch Productions seemed to have that special something that was missing from the online presence of other companies. When I looked through their Facebook timeline, I saw graduation photos, new babies, office dogs, pranks, volunteer efforts, and elaborate Halloween costumes. I saw a group of folks that seemed to genuinely care about one another. I thought, Wow. I could see myself here. I could easily imagine myself in those photos and I wanted to be a part of the group. 

You know what I did? I applied immediately...and here we are.

What does this experience teach us?

When used well, company culture is a powerful recruitment tool.

You’ll see a lot of fun stuff if you look at the Coalmarch social media. At the office, we have karaoke nights, exercise ball chairs, Nerf gun fights, catered lunches, and office dogs.

And while free food and shooting your CEO with a Nerf gun are great fun (believe me), are these things company culture in their own right? Not exactly. 

They’re perks. This stuff may indicate a certain type of workplace environment and may stem from the culture you’ve created, but true company culture is a little bit harder to pin down.

Company culture is a couple of things:

  • The sum of team behaviors. It is the collective way everyone at the company acts over time, not just the handful of senior team members. You should also account for subcultures in different departments.
  • Defined by behavior that is rewarded the most. These are the behaviors that are accepted as workplace norms.
  • Manifests itself in how people instinctively react to situations. You may say your culture is one thing, but what do people actually do when there is a difficult decision, or the pressure is on?

Sometimes what is written about your company culture in your handbook isn’t the reality. Let’s look at an example of a stated company culture vs. what really happening: Your company culture says, “We treat our team like people first, employees second.” If you were a company that truly followed this, how would you react in the following situation?

It’s the middle of the summer, and the height of your busy season. A team member calls in sick last-minute and it’s looks like you’re going to have a really busy day. Is the initial reaction: “Is he alright? Is there anything we can do? We’ll figure this out,” or are you simply annoyed? Do you turn to the person next to you and say, “well he seemed fine yesterday...” 

See the difference? One of these initial reactions follows the stated company culture and the other one doesn’t. 

Your company culture is made up of a thousand different moments like this one. A thousand moments to prove to one another that you are what you say you are. If you match your actions to what you say your culture is, your people will trust you more and feel better about being a part of your company.

Hiring for Cultural Fit

Cultural fit does not mean the same appearance, hobbies, background, or upbringing. Instead, it is a shared belief in what work should be like. Do you believe that a workplace should be casual or do you prefer a more regimented approach? Do you believe that you should be able to crack jokes or prefer to keep it more professional? It’s a spectrum. Just how much autonomy should people have? How casual should you be? As the leader of your team, you set this standard. Think about the way you want your business to run every day. There are no wrong answers.

To attract candidates that will be great cultural fits, you need two things in place: You need to build a strong culture and show off your culture.

Building a strong culture

  • Begin with a company culture audit. Culture happens whether you plan it or not. You have a company culture, it just might not be the one you want. Here is a chance to identify where your culture is and where you want to be. Be brutally honest and get your team involved for the best results. It may be in the form of a candid conversation or anonymous surveys. Ask: This is what our culture is on paper, are we following what we preach? If nothing else, it will help identify gaps between what your true culture is and what you think it is.
  • Rally around your company purpose. It’s your WHY. Who does your company serve? Think customers, team members, communities, and groups. How do you serve them? Is there an added mission besides good customer service? Build your culture around that.
  • Get your team involved. Find your culture ambassadors. Those are the people who eat, sleep, and breathe your company culture, and encourage them to spread the word to potential hires. After all, you get customers with word of mouth, why not team members?
  • Treat your people well. Once you hire the right people, treat them right. If you have a high turnover rate, you are spinning your wheels. Once they are on board, continue to show them that you appreciate their choice in joining the team.
  • Lead by example. This one is arguably the most important. You are the head of your company and it is up to you to be strongest advocate for your culture. People are always looking up to you to pave the way. It is your job to always practice integrity to build trust. If you don’t have your people’s trust, you don’t have much to stand on.

Once you build a culture it’s time to show it to people, and how do we do that? 

The two best places you can show off your culture are your social media channels and your website.

Social Media

This is the easiest to implement, and the best part is you don’t have to do it all yourself! Empower your team to post on social media on the company’s behalf. With a few guidelines, you will have many minds working on ideas for posts. Depending on the size of your team, you can designate one person or a few people to be in charge of social media. The rest of the team can send them photos and stories to post about. This way, the tone of the posts will be consistent.

Your Website

You should have at least one page dedicated to hiring and culture on your website. Better yet, have a separate mini-website that looks something like “careers.yourwebsite.com.” You can direct people here to learn more about you, and will act as a hub of information for potential hires to get a sense of who you are. It is also where you can invite people to apply. Unlike social media, this content will be permanent and won’t get lost in a news feed. It is going to take a little more work to implement this, but it is a great way to signal to potential hires you want them, and that you mean business with this company culture stuff. 

What should you post to attract great candidates?

Show potential hires what it’s like to work at your company. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Interview your team members. Highlight them one at a time and focus on who they are as people. It makes them feel special to have their company single them out in a good way like this. It shows the company cares about them as people and not just employees.
  • Go behind the scenes. What is everyday work like? Showcase your favorite part of the office or have technicians take photos on the road.
  • Good deeds. Do any of your team members volunteer? Perhaps your company donates time or money to some sort of cause? If not, it’s never too late to start!
  • Team meetings/offsites. Do you have team-building events? Do you have monthly meetings or social events? The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you choose to post about your culture, make it authentic in order to attract the right people. Your company culture is a story told in many, many different pieces. Over time and consistent posting, you will be able to tell a great story about your company culture, your people, and why top candidates should choose you.

Show them who you are. Allow them to imagine themselves working with your team. Treat them well. If you build it and share it, they will come. 

Want to learn more? Check out the full slide deck with even more information on company culture.

Like this idea but don’t have the time or manpower to implement these things on your own? We can help. Check out our Teambuilder section to learn more.