Today, employers, recruiters, and staffing pros are increasingly concerned about the skills gap. It makes sense, since a recent CareerBuilder survey found 38 percent of employers have open positions they just cannot find the skilled candidates to fill.

Yet the answer to the skills gap might be in a different direction entirely. While skills are necessary to get the job done, company culture fit might just be the best way to ensure employee retention, develop a positive work environment, and create a workforce with the ability to grow and thrive.

The importance of cultural fit

While skills are still the bread and butter of any position, even the most skilled candidate is unlikely to stick around for the long haul if they’re not a good fit with the organization. In 2012, among the 50 most common questions asked in interviews were questions about favorite movies, favorite websites, and the last book a candidate had read.

Why? Because cultural fit can determine staying power, and a bad hire can be incredibly expensive. Some figures peg the cost of a bad hire at $50,000 or more, and turnover can cost anywhere from 16 to 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary.

The importance of cultural fit isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Back in the 1970s, researcher John Morse conducted a study on the impact of congruence on employee performance. He split employees into two groups: one placed in positions the old-fashioned way, and the other based on their personality and psychometric testing. What he found was the group placed in positions based on personality (and cultural fit) reported feeling more productive. Higher self-esteem in a position can lead to happiness, and happiness at work can lead to greater productivity.

A social solution

Social media just might be the solution to finding the right candidates who will fit into the company culture with ease. After all, the Pew Center for Research found 74 percent of online adults already use at least one form of social media. Social recruiting makes it easier to connect with candidates, while also making it simple for candidates to show off their passion, skills, and enthusiasm.

Here are just a few easy ways to use social media as a cultural fit solution:

Turn your culture into your brand

Understanding the organization’s company culture is the first step to ensuring all new hires will fit and flourish in the company. Take some time to think about the culture, and then turn this culture into your brand on social media.

Are you a fun-loving environment where co-workers are friends? Put up pictures of your latest company picnic or karaoke night.

Is your company focused on innovation? Share information about your latest brainstorming retreat.

Does your company offer great benefits for family-focused candidates and those looking to continue their professional growth? Show off your childcare options and continuing education benefits.

Speak with one voice and put your company culture front and center in all of your recruiting efforts. Given enough information about the culture, candidates can self-select whether it will be a good match for their needs. By sharing your story, you’ll be attracting the right talent to your company brand.

Connect personally

Social media brings down geographic barriers, and makes it easy to populate your talent pipeline with a wide variety of smart and enthusiastic candidates. It also makes it easy to get a personal feel for candidates more quickly, so you can avoid those who would be all wrong for the company culture.

For instance, a negative blog post shared by a candidate on social media can tell you something about their potential fit. Additionally, a one-way video interview, in which candidates answer your questions with short video answers, can help you see if the candidate will be a good fit. Social media doesn’t just help you connect, it also helps you avoid wasting your time on the wrong people during the recruitment process.

Look for passion

Genuine passion, whether for the job, industry, or company, is essential for making a good cultural fit hire. The candidates spending their time on social media writing, tweeting, and posting up a storm about industry-related topics will most likely bring that same level of passion to your organization.

Become a member of industry discussion groups and chats, in addition to building your own active talent community. The candidates who are the most active in these forums are the people thinking about common challenges and dreaming up new innovations. They’re the people with real and sincere passion, and the exact people your company needs. Social media gives you a way to connect with these passionate people, including passive candidates, and convince them your company is the right place for their unbridled enthusiasm.

As company culture fit becomes more important in finding and retaining the right people, so too will social media. It’s a great tool for connecting with interested candidates in a more personal way than ever before. With the high price tag associated with a badly fitting candidate, you can’t really afford to ignore cultural fit anymore.

What do you think? How do you use social media to attract the right cultural fit candidates? Share in the comments!

Author: Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire

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