Are you an alpha factory taking newly graduated Ivy Leaguers and stamping out the future CEO's of tomorrow or are you wearing cargo shorts, Teva's with socks and banging out code while your golden retriever sits at your feet? Either of these cultures has their benefits and attract their specific target audience like clockwork. But not every company has an identified culture, or at least not one that is a selling point when attracting top candidates. What sets you apart? How are you going to have a top notch player say "yes I want to work there"? It could be your web site, your interview process, daily office life or perks. I will explain why it is important to identify and embrace your culture depending on what your target generation audience is.
Fresh from college green thumbs:
For the current crop of real world nubbies, it is all about what can you do for me now, what career path can you bring me into, and cool factor; especially in the IT world. Never before has a generation been so technically sound and expected to be treated with instant respect. For the companies not willing to give a warm fuzzy hug and pat their new hire on the back five times a day, there are multiple new start ups willing to do so. No telecommuting, no Facebook and MySpace at work, no willingness to approach problems with new ideas…? Then no way will you attract the best and the brightest young creative thinkers. This culture needs to be embracing, informative democratic and exciting!
Industry veterans and journeymen:
It could be argued this group relies less on culture and more on pay and security. I beg to differ. When attempting to attract top talent many candidates will be weighing daily happiness and creative aptitude equally with pay and security. This group realizes their skills are valuable, the money and security will follow a well created product ahead of schedule. What is going to separate getting the A+ players from the B? You need a brand. Even if your company feels they are void of a culture, there is still something to be played up. Are your projects exciting and co-workers truly experts in their field but office life is drab and boring; then play up the first two. The trick is to find the most positive aspects of what are your top selling points and enhance. It is a simple scenario of need and fulfillment; your target audience is asking for X then you better be prepared to provide X and Y and Z or else they will go elsewhere. Not every company has a perfect culture, very few do but it is much like a skill and needs to be worked on constantly.
Identify your target audience and realize what points will make them excited. Remember that you need to reel them in quickly and have something that sets you apart from the organizations who are your competitors. Be innovative and take risks, the worst that can happen is nothing, who knows you might just catch lightning in a bottle and come up with the next cool thing. If you feel your void of culture don't be afraid to speak with your fellow sales and recruiting co-workers about "how can we sell this thing" and make a change from the inside out. Remember, half of life is just showing up….but the other half is showing up with style!