Company culture: Why is it important and how can I use it?

What is company culture?

According to a Millennial Branding Study, 43% of HR professionals believe that cultural fit is the most desirable quality in a candidate during the hiring process. You read that correctly. It’s not your experience, your education, your accomplishments, or your connections. It’s whether or not you are a fit within the company culture that makes you the most desirable candidate.

How can I understand company culture?

Company culture is the personality of the company. What is the work environment like for employees? How can you describe the nature of the relationship between the management and the employees at each level of the company? Do you know about the company’s values, ethics, and missions? And what does the company expect of its employees?

Understanding the company culture will help you know where your place may be within that construct. Then, armed with this information, you can edit your professional materials to represent yourself as an ideal cultural fit.

So how do you go about discovering the company culture? And how do you use this information to shape your application materials?

Visit the company’s website

Often, in the ‘About Us‘ category, you can view to the mission statement and history of the company. Use this information to establish whether or not you support this culture. If so, find a way to work in your favorite qualities of the company’s culture to your cover letter. Practice these talking points before an interview so that you can demonstrate your enthusiasm.

Talk to current or former employees

Who better to give you answers than those with first-hand experience? These people can give you the ins and outs of what it’s really like within the company structure. Use this information to envision yourself in the company. What would you do to contribute to the company culture? What experience do you have that supports these actions? Discover what these things are and work them into your resume or CV.

For example, if the company culture is all about building close personal relationships with its clients, then use your resume to discuss how you have experience doing just that. If a company’s core value is about giving back to its local community, then shape your past roles to reflect that experience.

Consult online resources

Websites such as Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and Glassdoor often feature company profiles that offer this critical information. Become an expert on this information and refer to specific points in your cover letter. Doing so will demonstrate that you did your research while also showing that you are a good fit.

Demonstrating company culture

Once you have reviewed these materials and shaped your resume and cover letter, consider your own personality. How can you behave during the interviews and follow up correspondence to show that you understand the company culture? Try to break down your understanding of a company culture into a few words. Is the company friendly or ultra-professional? Is the company casual or formal? Are the people accessible or elitist? The answers to these questions will depend a lot on the location of the company as well as the market that it caters to. If is your job to highlight the aspects of your personality that are in line with these descriptors.

Ultimately, hiring managers are looking for a good cultural fit, but there is no reason that you can’t practice fitting into a specific role. Doing your best to fit in will show that your values are aligned with those of the company and that you’ve done your due diligence in researching and preparing for your shot at employment.

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