Hiring for cultural fit requires a delicate balance, but finding that sweet spot is more difficult than it seems.
On the one hand, employees who feel at home and develop a sense of belonging at a company are less likely to leave. But when you only hire candidates who are similar, your workforce drifts away from diversity and toward homogeneity.
Let's take a look at how to find that balance -- candidates with diverse, unique backgrounds and experiences who also happen to fit in the company culture:
1. Build a diverse hiring team
Simply put, if your hiring team is not diverse, chances are that they won't be hiring very diverse candidates. In a December 2012 study published by the American Sociological Review, researchers found that hiring professionals are more likely to hire someone who is similar to them.
To combat hiring a large group of like-minded candidates, find a wide variety of hiring managers to have on your team who have a deep understanding of what constitutes a good cultural fit as well as what skills and experience are needed for current talent needs. After all, this team is the face of your employer brand, acting as the company's first impression to active job seekers.
The hiring team should collaborate on communicating company values through a strong employer branding strategy. If the company's online presence represents the culture effectively, job postings will attract talent who share these values and hope to contribute to the company mission.
They should also work together when writing job descriptions. A strong job description is gender-neutral and written in a friendly tone while expressing interest in building a diverse workforce. Buzzwords can turn people off, and catchy lingo may alienate applicants.
Make sure the diverse hiring team is representing what the company wants in an engaging, accessible way and sharing this message to different audiences from various groups, communities, organizations and industries.
2. Look outside your industry
Some industries tend to attract specific people and are rather homogenized. For example, according to a February survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 68% of the education industry is female, they only make up 26% of the transportation industry.
If it seems like your industry is only producing the same type of candidate, consider looking outside the industry and finding job seekers who have transferable skills. All candidates possess their own set of skills that they use in every single position they work in.
If you want some strong sales people, but the manufacturing industry you're in doesn't provide a diverse pool of talent, look in the retail industry, where a wide variety of people work and utilize transferable skills that are useful in a sales position. You can even find these valuable skills in bartenders, waiters and waitresses because they upsell on food and drink specials.
Each person in the job market is unique, and when hiring managers look to other industries, they're widening the net to attract more variety in their applicant pool. However, the message from talent acquisition still needs to remain true to what the organization stands for to ensure that diverse collection of people fits in with the vision of the company.
3. Focus on the company's mission
Communicating the mission and vision of your company is vital to attracting people who will be a strong cultural fit. It falls on the hiring team's shoulders to create a compelling message so job seekers are hooked and actively pursue the position.
The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 82% of millennials who stay with a company over a long period of time feel their values align with the company. When candidates can fully understand how a company conducts business and impacts the world, and their goals align, they feel fully invested in achieving organizational goals.
These goals and the vision of the company may change as the organization scales and evolves. Focus on showing, not just telling, what the organization stands for and believes in. Share content on social media and career sites that provides examples of how the company adds value to the community.
For example, if honesty is one of the core values, show how that value is put into action in the form of a satisfaction guarantee policy. When a company celebrates a transparent structure, they should show how their transparency works in their organization, perhaps by posting images of their open floor plan in the office or creating employee testimonials that show personal experiences where open communication was beneficial.
With a diverse team of hiring managers, you can create a clear employer branding strategy that accurately communicates the company's values and mission. It will also reach a wide variety of diverse applicants to find the perfect person who is a strong cultural fit and brings unique ideas to the table.
How do you balance cultural fit and diversity?