Recruiting for Culture: Move your business forward with the right people

A White Paper provided by Ledgent Technology & Engineering

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For a quick overview, check out our INFOGRAPHIC: Recruiting for Culture

You know exactly what qualifications you’re looking for in your next technology hire: skills, education, experience, etc. But your organization isn’t made up of code and email 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.

This does not mean you should be looking for clones of employees you already have. People with similar backgrounds and experiences won’t always get along, and you put your team in danger of a stalemate due to a lack of fresh ideas. The goal is to create a dynamic team that shares common values and work ethic.

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 market, figuring out how to advertise for and attract the right culture fit will help you nab the best candidates and increase your retention.

What is it?

Can you define your organization’s culture right now? Without checking the website or the “Mission Statement” on the wall by the front desk? How about everyone else? Your team manager? Your interns? 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.

From there, 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 team 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? Again, while Dave’s amazing analytic skills are important, you really love his ability to remember birthdays as well as deadlines. Make a list of these intangible skills, such as ability to work well under pressure or proactivity or being excited to participate in team events. But also don’t be afraid to include traits that you wish your team had more of. Document these traits and be sure to get feedback from your team as well, what do they need in their next teammate?

Who are they?

When it comes to attracting talent, communicate those 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. (Another job description included “must love puppies” as a requirement.) While it may be a little “sillier” than the average job description, they are demonstrating their culture and attracting their ideal applicants who will build the future of the company.

Don’t be afraid to flaunt some of your favorite company perks that are part of the culture, like paid community-service hours. These will get the attention of applicants who value those programs, and they will be more likely to support and uphold them.

This practice will likely attract more tech applicants, but that means more applicants are responding who “get” your company and are passionate about its practices. A standard job posting will get applicants who are looking for a job. A well-crafted, culture-rich post will also attract applicants looking for a work environment like yours.

Where do I find them?

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, classifying them as “passive jobseekers.” They are likely not actively scouring and Indeed – so how do you get your opening in front of their eyes?

Before you begin saturating the internet with your post, 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 do some of the leg work. Have them post the job on their social media pages, this will also bring in more dimensional candidates from different industries and backgrounds. Ask your team to post on Alumni pages, and other groups they may be involved in. Utilizing these outlets will allow you to catch the eye of passive candidates, as they might be on these outlets 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? A poster in a strategically-located coffee shop? Campus-recruiting events? A popular neighborhood church? Add these strategies to your traditional recruiting techniques, such as posting on your company website.

Truly recruiting for culture fit requires thinking outside of the box. If you want someone with a creative background, try emailing some art professors at your local university to see if they have any students they’d recommend. If you are actually looking for applicants who “must love puppies,” try reaching out to members of a local animal rescue group.

Also look into unique interest groups on LinkedIn based on the job requirements. LinkedIn hosts groups like “Marketing Communication,” “Business Psychology,” “Veterans Hired,” and almost anything else you can think of – there is a group for everything.

You can use this as a way to target specific traits or candidates. For instance, if you feel as though your team needs more leaders, post on groups that include leadership as a focus; as they will be more likely to host members who have leadership traits.

Again, members of these groups are likely on there for social reasons. They visit these pages to ask questions, provide answers, and learn from others, this is 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.

Sometimes you may feel wary towards an addition to your already-perfect team, and other times you may be too close to the situation to know what it needs. If you’re having trouble defining what your department needs or what cultural traits you’re looking for, discuss with your HR team.

If you are in need of outside assistance, Ledgent Technology has mastered the art of recruiting for culture. We have plenty of experience hunting for passive technology jobseekers and also offer options like contract-to-hire so you can bring candidates in for a trial run. 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.



About Ledgent Technology

Ledgent Technology specializes in the placement of full-time and contract professionals in roles ranging from IT support to software development. We are a division of Roth Staffing Companies, one of the largest privately-held staffing companies in the country, operating from more than 100 locations in 20 states and the District of Columbia via six specialized business lines: Ledgent TechnologyUltimate Staffing Services (the 11th largest office/clerical staffing company in the country), Ledgent Finance & Accounting, Adams & Martin Group (legal staffing), and affiliates Ultimate Locum Tenens and About Talent (a workforce solutions company).

Roth Staffing Companies stands as the only firm in the industry ever ranked #1 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing, privately-owned companies, and is the only one to receive all of the industry’s most prestigious honors in a single year, accomplishing this feat for two consecutive years.  The organization is consistently ranked among the 50 largest staffing companies in the country.