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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Hiring and job hunting - Beyond the Skills Assessment: Making a Culture Connection

Hiring and job hunting are serious business, but it can sometimes feel like a guessing game for both parties. Even with all the information available in resumes, LinkedIn profiles, company websites and skills assessments, it can be hard to know for sure. So, how can you tell if you’ve found the right fit? By looking to see if you have a culture connection.

The best employee/employer experiences are the ones in which there is a strong culture match. Here’s why:
  • The environments we work in can make or break us. The right fit can fuel success, and the wrong fit can deplete everyone.
  • Working in a culture where all employees believe in the company’s core values is more enjoyable and productive.
  • The potential for a long-term engagement is much higher, which is good for everyone.
Finding a good cultural fit is a mutual responsibility of both the company and the job seeker. But how can you tell if you’ve made the right connection?

For the Employer
At Beehive PR, we invest a lot to find the right employees for our team. Why? Because an agency’s product is its people. We sell talent by the hour, and our clients’ business is simply too important for us to take any new hire lightly. So we work hard to find employees who not only have strong skill sets but who will thrive in our culture.

That upfront investment during the hiring process can make it much easier to find the right talent – the first time around. Some ideas on how best to do this:
  • Look beyond the resume and skills assessment. Don’t get me wrong – having the right skill set and experience is an absolute necessity; but that alone is not enough. Take time to explore a candidate’s personal qualities and strengths to determine in what environment they are most likely to thrive.
  • Think about how he/she will complement the existing team. At Beehive, we use tools such as Clifton Strengths Finder to better understand a candidate’s natural strengths and how they will fit the culture as well as interact with our clients.
  • Make a personal connection. When you find a candidate who is the right fit on paper, invest the time to have several members of your team meet with him or her to do a culture and chemistry check.
This attention to making the right culture match will help a company achieve high retention rates and build best-in-class teams.

For the Job Seeker
Remember that interviews are mutual and it’s your job during the hiring process to find a culture that matches your needs. Being in the right workplace goes a long way in determining your long-term job satisfaction, happiness and career development.

Here are three ways to dig deeper during the interview process to see whether or not a company is the best culture fit for you.
  • Know what you need to be successful. Think about what kind of workplace environment you thrive in and what kind of leadership style helps you excel. Take an objective look at what motivates you and what attributes and benefits you value most. This will set you up to ask the right kinds of questions and better evaluate each opportunity.
  • Have clear professional goals in mind. Identify your top career goals for the future and decide if the organization is the right one to help you get there. Having clarity here will also ensure that you’re going towards something meaningful.
  • Make a personal connection. Before accepting a position, ask to meet the day-to-day team and supervisor with whom you would work. Tour the workspace to see whether or not you can picture yourself in that environment.
In addition, social media has really opened up a company’s culture to potential employees. By looking at Facebook posts, blogs and Twitter feeds, job seekers have many more opportunities to get to know the culture and its leaders. Usually the companies most dedicated to building a strong culture are actively sharing it across all channels.

Once a culture connection is made, the stage is set for people and companies to succeed because teams feel motivated, there is a sense of community and common purpose, and employees are able to do their best work. The result is a culture that benefits employees, clients/customers and the bottom line.

Ayme Zemke is Group Director at Beehive PR. She can be reached at