Considering culture can make or break recruitment success, part two

In part one, we went from A to Z on the corporate spectrum – literally – by contrasting the hard-driving work environment at Amazon with the depressurized culture at Zappos. In a recent piece for the Harvard Business Review, brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn asserted that both types of workplaces are valuable due to the fact that they’re distinctive, and companies with distinctive cultures are at an advantage when it comes to hiring because it’s easy for recruiters to determine whether a prospective employee will be a good fit or a fish out of water.

Not all corporate cultures are as bold as those at Amazon or Zappos, but chances are good that recruiters could still benefit from understanding what it’s like to work at a particular company and what aspects of a candidate’s personality and approach to the job could either make for a good fit or lead to a virtually instant disconnect.

Enterprises need to have a solid grasp of the core values upon which they were founded.”

The value of values

First off, enterprises need to have a solid grasp of the core values upon which they were founded. What’s more, as opposed to confining them to an intranet post or a poster on the office wall, these values should be woven throughout the fabric of a company and embodied by everyone who works at the organization. For instance, according to its website, Zappos has 10 core values that run the gamut from openness and honesty to cultivating “fun and a little weirdness.” Meanwhile, Amazon runs on 14 principles that emphasize high standards and quality results. According to the Amazon Jobs site, the principles are used on a daily basis by employees of the e-commerce giant, “whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on the best solution for a customer’s problem or interviewing candidates.”

When an organization understands the values that compose its foundation, it has taken a powerful step forward in terms of distinguishing itself from the rest of the pack. These characteristics can be applied to everything from navigating the executive search and recruitment process to determining which prospective employee is the best person for a job at the entry level. Recruiters who understand enough about their companies to cherry-pick individuals who are likely to excel within the corporate culture and skip over those who would probably be a bad fit save a lot of time, money and effort by getting it right the first time – at least in theory. Of course, there are no guarantees that a particular hire will work out, but gauging cultural congruity is a significant piece of the puzzle that can serve as a powerful barometer of whether a particular professional has a future with the organization.

In a job interview, a recruiter who knows what to look for from a corporate culture standpoint will likely make better choices than someone who is culturally uninformed.In a job interview, a recruiter who knows what to look for from a corporate culture standpoint will likely make better choices than someone who is culturally uninformed.

Attract – and identify – the cream of the crop

That being said, it’s not enough to simply make recruiters understand the values at the core of an enterprise’s culture – the company must also publicize these in order to improve its chances of attracting the right candidates in the first place.

“Clearly articulate the value proposition,” Yohn recommended. “Explain not just what the company does, but why it matters.”

This will give prospective employees an extra layer of insight into what life is like inside the organization, encouraging them to figure out for themselves whether they would enjoy working there or not. Not every candidate will be a great fit, but it’s better for everyone involved to figure that out sooner rather than later, which is just one area where a strong sense of culture can have a profound impact.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 45 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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