Why Your Culture is Turning Top Applicants Away (And How to Fix it)

Culture shapes the way your organization does business, because your culture has the ability to attract or repel top talent. So creating a culture that’s more than just office snacks and remote work opportunities is necessary, especially in today’s hiring market.

Because of “the Great Resignation” — the phrase coined to signify the vast amount of employees leaving their jobs — you’ve got to work even harder to make your company a standout place to work. That means creating a culture that promotes equal opportunity and fosters inclusion for all of your employees.

Some organizations may not realize that their culture is hindering their ability to attract talent, especially if they’ve put time into crafting core values and company objectives that seemingly check the boxes for applicants. But it takes more than that to keep your team around and encourage applicants to come work for you. Here are some of the things you may be unaware you’re doing and how to adjust to attract talent. 

You’re only looking for “culture fit”

The “culture fit” strategy is often used in hiring, but it’s an outdated practice that can lead to discriminatory hiring. While you want all of your employees to feel like they belong at your company, hiring individuals that fit a certain mold does nothing for your culture. Instead, you should be looking for team members that align with your company values, but offer something you don’t already have — whether it be a unique skillset or perspective.

You can search for this type of candidate for interviewing with your core values in mind. Talk about the importance and meaning behind each of your company’s values in your interviews, and ask candidates to share how they resonate with them.

You don’t promote from within

When your employees don’t have a career path at your organization, your candidates will notice. As we continue to grapple with the pandemic and see permanent shifts to what candidates expect from organizations, a promise of opportunity is becoming more important than ever. According to our 2021 State of Hiring report, a career path is one of the top things that job seekers look for. Applicants do their due diligence when researching companies to apply for, using websites like Glassdoor to find out what your current and former employees say about your organization. If a repeat issue is the lack of opportunity to be promoted, you’ll lose out on candidates big time.

So consider your internal talent for promotions and opportunities, and even think about providing ongoing training or continuing education stipends. This shows applicants that you’re investing in them rather than just searching for any warm body to fill a role. 

You haven’t established a strong employer brand

Employer brand is the perception of your company among both prospective and current employees, and if it’s lacking, chances are you’re missing out on talent. Visit your company’s Glassdoor and Yelp pages, and read what is being said about your organization. Is your customer service sub-par? Do you have several negative reviews from former employees?

If so, address the issues mentioned. You should also task someone with responding to every review. While this may seem like a huge amount of time, it’s important to show your customers and applicants that you take these matters seriously and are working to improve conditions. 

You don’t take time to recognize achievements

Employee accomplishments should be met with public praise. It’s a good way to improve morale and let your staff know that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Create a company Slack channel to sing the praises of your employees and share wins, no matter how small. Showcase achievements in company-wide meetings and create an environment where recognition is encouraged.

And try to avoid recognition that revolves around working longer hours than expected or working while on vacation, as that can send the wrong message. Instead, focus on achievements that represent your company’s core values, and ask your staff to submit recommendations for their colleagues, too. 

You’re not open to change

It’s no surprise that organizations that are open to change have a greater opportunity to attract talent, especially after the past year and a half. “Lifting and shifting” has been the name of the game for nearly every industry, and that’s not going to stop anytime soon.

Job seekers are looking for companies that are adapting to the changes going on each day, not forcing an old way of business upon their team. That means you may have to think bigger picture about your benefit offerings, pay scales, your levels of transparency and communication, and your organization’s tech stack. These elements mean a lot to your employees and job seekers because they show that you’re in-tune with their desires and will continue to be responsive to change rather than pushing against it. 

You’re not hiring diverse candidates

A lack of diverse talent can be extremely detrimental to your company culture as well as your organization’s general performance. Studies show that a diverse team is more productive, forward-thinking, and make better business decisions. Set diversity goals for your organization, like matching the US population demographics, or implement ways to diversify your hiring process, like standardized interview questions and blind resume review. These tactics will help you think about the applicant you’re interviewing based only on qualifications and remove some of the unconscious bias that inevitably occurs when hiring.

Regardless of if you’ve put time into molding your culture, if you’re having trouble attracting applicants, it’s good practice to take a hard look at your current processes and established culture, and make improvements where necessary. For more tips on improving your culture, read our ebook on employer branding.



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