More than a paycheck or job title, job seekers are looking for organizations with values that match their own. When people come to work, they want to be appreciated and challenged — and they want to do what they do best every day. Anyone who has worked for more than one organization knows how company culture can significantly impact all these factors and more.
When candidates search for jobs, the process typically starts the same way they search for cars, vacation spots, or dentists: online. Most big decisions start with research and reviews, and candidates are doing the same research to get a good sense of who you are before they ever come in for an interview.
Your careers page is the first place candidates will go to learn about you. This is where you can you put your best foot forward, giving candidates everything they need to understand your organization and picture themselves as employees.
Recently, we conducted several focus groups with candidates surrounding what job seekers want to see from employers while doing their research. Group participants ranged from experienced professionals and current employees to soon-to-be MBA graduates and interns. Throughout all of our conversations, two words came up over and over again: “Show me.”
This really isn’t a surprising request. You need to showcase your company culture online to get candidates interested and engaged. But how?
Before you can showcase your culture online, you first have to understand what it is. To paraphrase Edgar Schein, culture is the aggregate of three things: What you see, what you say, and what you believe. In other words, organizational culture is in our traditions, our language, and our interactions with each other.
When it comes to bringing your culture alive on your careers site, you should show candidates the four Ps: your personality, your people, your places, and your projects.
1. Your Personality
Your employer brand is the visual reputation of your company’s personality combined with strong messaging around why you are an employer of choice. As such, it is the foundation of bringing your culture to life online.
Employer branding includes everything from your website’s color scheme to the tone you use when writing for your site. To define the personality of your organization, an easy way to start is to pretend your organization is a person. Then, come up with three adjectives that describe it. Perhaps you are formal, smart, and resourceful. Maybe you are you fun, playful, and sassy.
2. Your People
Your employees are the company, the driving force of your culture. Showcasing real employees doing real jobs is the best way to teach candidates about the day-to-day operations of your organization. No one wants posed stock photos these days. (I’m looking at you, woman in a suit, crossed arms, smiling over left shoulder.) These just make your site look like so many others when the point is to be unique.
Employee testimonials, via video or the written word, are another great way to feature the personalities and interests of current employees. These testimonials give employees a chance to talk about their direct experiences working in your organization. It’s great to say how awesome you are, but it’s even better — and more convincing — when someone else says it.
3. Your Places
Work is somewhat of a second home, and it’s important you love where you live. Giving candidates a peek at your campus — and more specifically, at what their workspace may look like — gives them a chance to imagine themselves working for you.
Your physical space offers up numerous clues about your culture. Do you have closed offices or an open floor plan? Can employees decorate and customize their areas? Doing a virtual tour of the space and sharing it on your careers site can really bring the workplace to life for interested candidates.
If you don’t have a visually interesting space, you can always take photos of employees at engagement activities, share fun historical facts about your campus, or tout what’s great about the city where you’re located.
4. Your Projects
Candidates want to do work they find meaningful. Before committing to your company, they want to be sure you’re addressing the same kinds of problems they want to solve.
Show candidates the projects you’ve recently worked on to give them tangible examples of what’s important to your organization and the kind of work they can expect to do if they join. You don’t want to give away your secret sauce, but featuring case studies related to specific departments or overall company goals can show candidates the scale and level of complexity at which you operate.
So many elements go into creating an organization’s culture, and you cannot understand many of them until you are fully living the culture. However, showcasing the four Ps on your careers site will help you make the best first impression possible.
Harold Hardaway and Shannon Hernandez are cofounders of Cardigan Communications Group.