Every professional recruiter knows that a huge part of success in placing a candidate involves finding a company whose culture meshes with the work style and goals of the job seeker. This is simply human nature—we seek social groups where we feel at home and we seek job situations where the culture is familiar. There’s a good reason for this—we can often be more productive in an environment where we know our strengths are recognized, and where we don’t have to expend energy “fitting in” or translating our ideas to fit with a foreign corporate culture.

Company Culture to Attract Top Talent

To top it off, more and more talented job seekers are prioritizing company culture when they go to look for a job. Google, for example, receives a staggering 2 million job applications from very talented job seekers every year. Why? Employees are drawn to the very publicly promoted culture of the company.

Hard To Define Culture

Recent studies show that in regular spoken communication, it is only 15% what we say to each other that is “heard” and 85% how we say it. Similarly, corporate culture can be difficult to define and words may fall short.

Culture is a set of values, but also an aesthetic, as well as a specific way of presenting yourself in the world and marketplace. A successful recruiter knows that you have to go beyond what is being said sometimes, and matching a candidate with an appropriate culture often means interpreting unspoken language of both company and candidate.

Company Culture Is Not A Façade

It’s one thing to create a company culture, but it’s another to keep it up to date as the company grows. Google’s culture is, in part, focused on innovation and they’ve built that into their workforce in such a way that it’s now organic to the growth of the company. In other words, as the company grows, and it grows constantly and quickly, innovation is part of the growth and integral to it. In this way the company’s culture is never something static but something real that grows with the company. Another way to look at it is that the company grows in part because of the culture.

Look For Keys

Companies often use key indicators to communicate what they actually stand for. For example, they may have various ways of encouraging employee growth. They may emphasize teamwork in the way the office is laid out or in extracurricular activities.

Some companies emphasize philanthropy through community service days. Surveys of millennial talent indicates that Gen Y workers hold volunteer work and giving back as a very important factor when it comes to looking for a place they want to work. Other companies are green companies with policies aimed at having a low impact, environmentally. Millennials also seem to favor companies with an eco-friendly approach. Family friendly companies have great health care and even daycare on offer and you may see children in the workplace.

Take the time to discover what the actual, not just stated, culture of your client’s company is.

Making Matches That Work

Company culture is not just a superficial definition or brand. Culture can define the way that employees interact, the ways that conflicts are resolved, and how business problems are solved. Just as with any human culture, it permeates daily experience and therefore how a company does business.

Find out what is really most important to the top talent that you are looking for. Ask about life goals, not just career goals. Is friendly competition between employees attractive or intimidating to top talent? Think about the things that make a workplace unique or welcoming and match candidates with the environments that they like and thrive in.