What is Cultural Fit?

Cultural fit. These words have evolved into a concept that has proven difficult to articulate within the business world. Often, the buzzwords proliferate into a negative connotation. Bloomberg Businessweek released an article titled “Job Applicant’s Cultural Fit Can Trump Qualifications” with the negative undertones. The author, Logan Hill, claimed that interviews are becoming less likely about employees’ skills, but more likely about the employee’s personality. This, he explains is ‘cultural fit’ inside a company. “In an employment market in which many first-time employees relocate for work, offices are becoming surrogate families and social communities,” Hill wrote, “New hires, especially young workers, want the secret Santa gift exchanges, the karaoke nights, and, increasingly, like-minded colleagues who share their values.” Hill argues that companies can not value diversity and true professional skills when those in position of hiring are only hiring employees much like themselves. These tones of skepticism and frustration behind cultural fit has caught Rand Fishkin’s attention.

Co-founder of SEOmoz and Inbound.org, Fishkin recently posted on his blog “What a Company Culture IS and IS NOT”. It structured several components of his definition of a company culture, which he feels Bloomberg Businessweek got wrong. His response addresses the negative backlash of the term ‘cultural fit’, along with the negativity behind how a company portrays this fit in the realm of their marketing and recruiting.

Fishkin states that a company’s culture is defined by three simple ideas: its values, its mission and vision, and its hiring, firing, and promotion process. These ideals are not to be confused with cultural fit, which Fishkin explains is different from a company’s culture. This fit determines how each employee interacts and integrates within the company; not activities like Secret Santa exchanges and karaoke nights, which Bloomberg Businessweek listed. These are just fun activities that colleagues might enjoy doing together, Fishkin wrote, and not defining moments of cultural fit. Fishkin’s impression of cultural fit lies among the three concepts he believes should be shared between between an employer and employee: beliefs, priorities, and stylistic cohesion.

The Good Jobs believes that a strong cultural fit is the key in creating and maintaining valuable relationships between an employer and its employees. Cultural fit goes beyond how well an employee enjoys working with his colleagues. It encompasses a broader idea of how well a company shares its values and ideals with employees. Employee diversity, corporate responsibility, or environmentally green services are values that can be shared between a company and its employees. Cultural fit is a symbiotic relationship.

The millennial generation of recent graduates are now looking for companies that share their same values. It is no longer solely about salary and benefits, but also about how strongly they believe in the company’s work within the community. If they enjoy what they are doing, they will stay, and companies understand the importance of high employee retention. It is increasingly important for companies to channel their values to attract potential future employees, and not just state how many costume parties, movie nights, or pool tables they have. Companies that will successfully market their cultural fit will have the advantage in finding the next wave of job-seekers.

Read the Bloomberg article here

Read the Rand Fishkin post here

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