Recruiting for Culture | Sourcing for Passion


What comes to mind when you think of boolean strings and keyword searches? Probably a laundry list of technical terms and industry jargon that will lead us to candidates that are technically qualified.

We did it! Not only did we find a candidate that meets and exceeds the skill set, but they are within the tight salary range, and they are willing to move to yucky-town, USA. Submit to hiring manager!

Declined by Manager - Qualified But Not a culture fit!

Well, that sucks, all that hard work wasted. In most companies, once a candidate is labeled "Not a fit", they are untouchable (at least for a while).

So, as Sourcers, how can we adapt our search strategy to include "Culture fit".

Core Value Mapping (Culture Map)

Every company has core values and a unique culture (even if they don't realize it).The trick is to identify the true culture (not just what is on the website) and then transform "culture fit" into keywords.

Keep in mind that culture can be a complex set of values that becomes harder to pinpoint as an organization grows and can manifest into different shades throughout the same company. Multiple variables, like: multiple locations, department silos, merger/acquisitions, leadership changes (to name a few), can make pinpointing "culture' or "core values" a difficult task. My advice is to focus on the hiring/interview teams culture. (see my blog post on Culture)
First, find the hiring team and add them to a LinkedIn Recruiter project (do the same with your ATS or any other database you use) and start looking for patterns within the hiring teams profiles.

Look for common hobbies, interests, quirky clubs, books, movies, bands, playlists, or groups that your target team enjoys. (Please comment on this post if you would like to publish a video on this tactic in action).  Now build a search string that will include  those keywords and as many any related words you can find.

Get creative with this exercise! Everything from Girl Scouts to BBQ cookouts could uncover hidden culture attributes that if found in new candidates, will increase the probability of team fit. This exercise will increase the likelihood that your candidate will travel farther through the maze that is the hiring process.

When I was at Zappos and we were trying to get people to relocate to the Las Vegas (which is surprisingly harder than you think), I came up with search strings that covered every possible gaming keyword I could find to increase the chances that the software engineers we were targeting would find Vegas appealing.

(poker Or blackjack Or bingo Or "crazy 4 poker" Or roulette OR "pai gow" OR "texas holdem" OR WSOP OR WPT OR "world poker tour" OR Craps OR slots)

The only thing limiting you is your imagination.

Think about topics like video games, cooking, martial arts, volunteer groups, and non-profit organizations.

There is another valuable outcome that comes from super targeted search results. As we all know, finding people is no longer the issue when it comes to sourcing and recruiting. Now, the problem is standing out from all the noise and engaging with the right people.

Semi-Customized Messaging (Nail it and Scale it)

If you have the time to send personalized emails to each prospect you find, then you are lucky. But, if you need to run large sourcing campaigns then a target list that is tagged by your "culture keywords" is the way to go. This technique enables you to create a compelling headline (subject lines) and customized template to send along with tracking success rates by target list. For example, you could have separate email templates, landing page, and candidate experience for each segment.

Let's use the gaming search string as an example. Once I have added my hard skill keywords to my the gaming keyword search, I can now confidently customize my subject line and a message to my "tagged" target audience.

Subject: Winner! Winner ! Chicken Dinner

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