Recruiters – I’ve got two words for you…..

ImageCulture eh…yep it’s important.  We all know that.  And this is not going to be another blog stating the bloody obvious about how a good culture in your business is critical.  But, how we define and communicate our culture is something that needs addressing…because few of us (me included) do it very well. Let me explain….

Take a look at company websites, job adverts, the little grab line on a business card or wherever else ‘culture’ is being described. You inevitably see the same sort of stuff…..

There are usually too many words. Some companies take a whole page on their corporate website to sell you their culture.  They are this and that, and a bit of this and a little drop of that and a bit more of something else and blah blah blah…a big long wish list, trying to be all things to all people.

And we generally all use the same words. I have just taken a random look at about 20 recruitment agencies websites and adverts and found the word ‘professional’ appearing 12 times, ‘innovative’ (10), ‘market-leader’ (9), ‘consultative’ (7) and ‘autonomous’ (5).

Then, there is the opposite problem of “thesaurusitis”. In trying to find new and fancy ways to describe our culture we reach for the Thesaurus to find a different ways to say what we mean. The problem is that the meaning gets lost and you end up coming across as a bit pretentious.

A lot of people also fall into the mistake of describing what they think people want to hear, as opposed to what the reality is. Sure, we all need to sell our culture as positively as possible. But when it sounds like some sort of mythical nirvana it really beats the point, as you just sound full of bull.

Then some lose the plot totally and mix up culture (i.e. what it is like to work there), with brand (the service you are providing). OK, these two things play into each other, but when you start describing your brand as ‘cool’ then you’ve got a problem. Sure, having a break out room and casual day on Fridays might well be important to a prospective employee, but a client isn’t going to give a monkeys how ‘cool’ you are.

When culture is so important, I think that defining and communicating it is something many of us could be much better at (one again, hands up here). Ask any of your clients, friends or colleagues to describe the culture of their business, and see how many give you a really concise and original answer that leaves you with a clear idea of what they are like and why they are different.

I have been doing that exercise this week …but with a twist. Do it in only two words. Try it and you will find it is harder than you think. But, if we are genuine about taking the culture thing seriously, as opposed to just doing it because you have to, then we should all be able to do this – with honesty, originality, simplicity and clarity.

Let us know what you come up with…..(remember, only two words).

Luke Collard

7 thoughts on “Recruiters – I’ve got two words for you…..”

  1. @Luke – I really appreciate the point, a very valid one. I’m working with a company on a slightly different tangent at the moment but with a similar purpose in mind. I’m walking them through their Organisational DNA and Employer Branding strategy. It still amazes me how many companies have no idea why or what makes them successful and how to articulate that especially in a recruitment and employee attraction sense.

    I blame this partially on the rise of pile it high sell it cheap job advertising mechanisms when it comes to actual vacancy advertising. When they were paying £10,000 for a colour advert in The Financial Times they thought about their cultural pitch and company presentation. Now we have a proliferation of lack of information and forethought in vacancy adverts. Even most recruiters don’t know how to or at least lack the desire of branding and elaborating on their clients culture for fear of identifying their client to their competitors.

    What we have ended up with in this context is basically uninspiring drivel and platitudes such as this one I saw yesterday:

    Our client is the market leader in their sector and is one of the largest employers in the region… blah blah blah. Pointless.

    Another great post, straight forward and to the point.

    I would describe my businesses culture as Breaking Moulds or maybe Irritatingly Brilliant.. LOL!

  2. @Mitch because fundamentally they do not have a real ‘culture’ you know one of those things where people value it, treasure it, enhance it and protect it. Empty and hollow words why authenticity is THE big word. It has to hang together, it has to be trustworthy and it has to correlate with every single piece of action, of communication and of every aspect of what anyone sees. I am still to see where this exist for real and executed.
    Until then I do not believe a word being said, promises being made or anything else, as I have seen the ‘we are different’ too many times and become utterly disappointed for me to ever take it seriously!

  3. Click Here

    That takes them to a video of current employees telling it like it really is. I mean uncensored warts and all. Potential employees want to know the transparent truth. I can suggest companies that do this really well if asked in a reply (BTW not my company).

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