Why Having a Recruiting Culture is Critical to Success

There are a number of different currents in the recruiting industry, all of which are converging and two of which stand out. One of those standout currents is retention, or rather, the lack of it. The other is the apparent scarcity of talent, especially hi-tech. At the confluence of these currents is the issue of culture. And, while on one hand, corporate culture can be seen as at least one of the root causes of these twin problems, I will argue here that culture can also offer a solution. Not just any culture will do, though. In order for companies to achieve long term success in terms of profitability and build a workforce that is productive, happy and stable, a particular type of culture is required—a recruiting culture.

So, how can growing a recruiting culture make attracting and retaining talent easier? The answers lie in what it is and what it does. Basically, a recruiting culture is one that successful companies employ to make recruiting an integral part of their corporate culture. That is, they make recruiting a corporate imperative.

It’s not hard to find the companies that excel in this regard. The “Best Companies to Work For” lists published by LinkedIn, Forbes and other prominent sources show us exactly who’s doing it right and include Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Walt Disney and Tesla, among others. All of these companies put a high priority on recruiting top talent, which is reflected in CEO and executive messaging, a high percentage of referrals being hired, programs that support recruiting and, most importantly, substantial funding for the recruitment department. Taken all together, these are the factors that constitute a strong recruitment culture.

Both research and experience have revealed plans that any company can put into action to create a successful recruiting culture and integrate it throughout the organization. In fact, many hiring and recruiting experts offer similar advice in this regard.

First, and as suggested above, recruiting should become the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Recruiting isn’t about ordering parts from a catalog. Successful recruiting is a highly collaborative process, and just as studies have shown that millennials prefer a collaborative rather than a competitive work culture, it is important that a company’s recruiting and hiring practices become collaborative in nature and involve the entire organization. In our current business climate that requires the involvement with and collaboration among an ever-widening group of stakeholders with in the organization, well beyond HR and hiring managers and including bosses, their bosses, co-workers, potential mentors and even managers from other areas of the business who may well have a legitimate interest in any number of different roles. Like life, it’s not a destination, but a continual journey or process.

The next and perhaps most important element of a recruiting culture is what happens after the candidate is hired. There is notion gaining traction among many companies that hiring practices, new employee onboarding and support, as well as ongoing employee education and training all contribute to increased retention and the performance of the organization as a whole. This idea was expressed perfectly by Boris Groysberg, Nitin Nohria and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, writing in the May 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review: “Talented new hires should not be given the freedom to sink or swim; more often than not, they sink.”

It’s no wonder then, that companies like Intuit, who have created a recruiting culture, consistently perform well and experience lower turnover and lower recruiting costs than comparable companies that don’t employ such a holistic approach.

It’s also very interesting—and gratifying—that many of the principles of recruiting culture that I’ve read about recently are already represented in the questions I ask the hiring managers of the companies that hire us to help them find the best candidates for them. They include (though not always in these exact words):

  • What’s the career path for this role?
  • Who does this role report to and what’s that manager’s style and personality?
  • What level of ongoing support and training is offered?
  • What’s the culture of this department? Of the company as a whole?
  • What are the personal and professional benefits of working for this group? For this company?

So, to paraphrase a line from a credit card commercial, what’s in you culture?