Some days I hear so much about recruiters who not only meet the technical requirements for their clients but also satisfy their cultural demands that I find myself dreaming of setting up a ten-way conference call so they can chirp the word “culture” like a cageful of parrots. And if you think I’m tired of hearing it, how do you think their clients feel? If you think I’ve gone off the deep end, fine. But while you’re dismissing me, hit up Google and give “recruiters culture” a quick search. I’ll give you some highlights from the first page if you’d rather hang around:
- 4th Result: Recruiting for Cultural Fit – Harvard Business Review – July 17, 2015
- 3rd Result: Stop Hiring for Culture Fit – Harvard Business Review – January 2018
- 5th Result: Why You Can’t Ignore Culture in Your Recruiting Process – Forbes – July 18, 2016
- 6th Result: The End of Culture Fit – Forbes – March 21, 2017
To sum up, just like every other buzzword and well-intentioned cliché that has come before it culture has gone the way of synergy, rockstar, and influencer. If we’ve struck a personal chord with you, we mean no offense (but it might be time to retire some of that rhetoric). The problem with the word culture is that while it sounds good on the surface, it opens you up to a bevy of criticism.
You told the last client that you understand their culture. And the client before them. And so on. Culture isn’t some overarching theme or a blanket ideology. It’s unique to each organization and represents the roots of their mission. To imply to clients that you can make great “culture” fits is shallow and pandering. Secondly, consider how many clients you work with at any given time. That number represents the variety of cultures that you are juggling while also searching for talented individuals with the right experience and skill set. No one knows your client’s culture better than your client. Bring them talented, qualified and passionate individuals and let them apply their own nuanced view of their corporate culture against these candidates.
It Goes Both Ways
If you can’t wow your clients by pretending to possess a holistic understanding of their culture, then how can you get them to realize that you at least respect the importance of company culture? You need clients to be able to see the culture of your own organization. Ultimately, two things matter: integrity and results. Does your firm convey a culture that speaks to these ideals? Maybe you and certain clients don’t jibe one hundred percent on every cultural identifier, but if can express a reputation built on keeping promises and finding great talent, the rest is noise.
Wait, You Guys Sell Websites, Right?
Yes, and then some, so it stands to reason we’d find our way back to talking about the connection. If there’s one thing we can glean from all this, it’s that culture is unique. When a potential client comes to your website, do they see a unique and dynamic environment that’s relevant and refreshing? Or do they see the same stock images and the same stale content that they’ve already said no to a dozen times? Look at the great companies that are renowned for having great cultures. This is expressed not just in the context of their messages but in the way they share those messages. How you say something is just as important as what you say. So what does your website say about you, your organization and your company culture?
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