Culture Shouldn’t Be A Crapshoot


This morning I had a great conversation with a group of people who I consider to be recruiting masterminds.

One person had worked for a national, venture funded job board for the previous decade. Another has run a staffing agency for two decades. Another had helped create the employment brands for some of the nation’s most respected places to work.

Needless to say, it was a diverse collection of people with unique perspectives on today’s recruiting landscape.

The conversation could be summarized to one talking point: workplace culture shouldn’t be a crapshoot for today’s recruiters.

The former job board executive shared stories of how clients would copy and paste a generic job description and post to their job board. Candidates would then read the description, take a look at the 3-4 different resumes they had created for themselves, and then submit the one that best matched the job description.

In other words, the entire job board posting process was a crapshoot. The generic description would reach people looking for work. Applicants may or may not be who they say they are and apply. The recruiter would then go on a few “dates” with selected candidates, decide to marry one, and hope that both parties can put up with each other 6 months into the job.

It’s a fools rush in mentality that makes a forceful fit based on technology.

The staffing agency owner shared some additional experiences about client priorities over the past decade. Clients would come to the agency with a job description and an expectation for the agency to find someone who fit the description. The description would list skills, responsibilities and experience necessary for the role, but would leave out anything about personality, purpose or culture.

The staffing agency would successfully find people with the skills, responsibilities and experience. Their recommendations and resume would check out. And employers would hire (aka – “marry”) the candidate after going through the interviewing process (aka – “dating”) because the candidate’s skill set matched the role description.

The third executive in the room – the one with all the employment branding experience – had a completely different approach that clients had taken over the years. Instead of placing a priority on the roles and responsibilities of the job, clients put the highest priority on protecting their organizational purpose and culture. Recruiters in these organizations would first and foremost see if candidates aligned with their organizational values. Once that determination was made, recruiters would move on to make sure the candidate had the functional expertise to excel in the role.

Most of these organizations didn’t spend time writing job descriptions. In fact, some organizations didn’t even bother writing job descriptions or posting job titles. They instead focused on communicating their cultural values through innovative marketing methods to attract the right people to them. Once people arrived, they then evaluated a candidate’s skill set with their employment needs to make a match.

This third approach is a conscious process of building workplace culture and hiring the right people.

Of course, the third approach doesn’t work for every organization. Some organizations are like mine – really small – and do their hiring selectively and sporadically with the approach of the first two methods I shared (job boards and staffing agencies).

Still, whether you’re posting to a job board or using a staffing agency or hiring a sign spinner on a street corner to attract people – you can (and should) put your company culture first in hiring.

Don’t make culture a crapshoot or you’ll end up with crap.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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