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Highlight Company Culture to Attract Candidates with Passion

A group of people sitting around a table in an office.

Recruiting motivated, purpose-driven candidates and matching them up to a job and company culture that matters to them will improve employee engagement and retention, according to recent research from LinkedIn.  

The global network's 2016 Global Talent Trends survey of over 33,000 professionals on LinkedIn revealed that those who see themselves staying at their current company for three or more years were more likely than others to be primarily motivated by a sense of purpose.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they couldn't imagine being at their current company two years in the future, while 37 percent see themselves staying for three or more years. Of those who envision a longer future at their current organization, the largest percentage (39 percent) said they are motivated most by personal fulfillment and purpose and that they tend to accept a job because of a company's culture, vision and products.   

"Their primary motivation is using their work to advance a greater good, a higher cause, a mission they deem worthy of working toward," said Esther Lee Cruz, global marketing manager at LinkedIn and a co-author of the survey's report. Of the remaining 61 percent of respondents who intend to stay for three or more years at their current job, 35 percent indicated they are primarily driven by career status and compensation. Twenty-six percent did not indicate a primary motivator.

Purpose-oriented professionals not only stick around longer, they are happier with their jobs, according to the report. Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of those identifying as purpose-driven are satisfied with their job. "These people believe in the company's mission and what they are doing and ultimately their work impacts how that company will be successful," said Cruz.

 Recruiting employees with purpose brings measurable business impact. Research from the EY Beacon Institute and Harvard Business School shows that companies with a clearly articulated purpose experienced more growth and were more likely to be profitable (58 percent vs. 42 percent that do not prioritize purpose).

Brand for the Right Fit

Employer branding brings visibility to an organization's purpose and mission, which may align with a potential candidate's values.

"Through proactive employer branding, organizations can share their mission, values and culture across these touch points in an effort to attract purpose-driven candidates, as well as dissuade people who may not be a strong fit," said Shannon Smedstad, an employer branding expert formerly with CEB, an Arlington, Va.-based advisory services company.  

Mission and vision should be more than words on a plaque on the wall. "This is something candidates want to know about so they can tie their own personal mission to your company mission," Cruz said. "Make sure you're clearly articulating what you're doing in the world and how that resonates with what they want to do."

And it doesn't have to be dull. "A lot of times, a company's mission and values are presented in a way that makes people's eyes glaze over," Cruz continued. "You want to pierce through the noise with videos, blog posts and day-in-the-life snippets to make sure that people are excited about your culture and values and see how they come to life in the day-to-day at your workplace."

Smedstad believes it's important to weave mission and values into an organization's internal and external communication strategies. Employees who embody the company's mission and values can be recognized and that recognition then turned into stories, videos and images that can be used externally on careers sites, social media and traditional print collateral, she said. "We did this at one of my former companies, and it was a critical component to aligning what employees experienced inside the company and what we talked about outside our office walls."

Draw Out Passion in Job Ads, Interviews

Job postings and the interview process are additional opportunities to highlight ways that people can live their passion on the job. "Describe the challenges and problems they will be solving in your job postings and during interviews," Cruz said. "Make sure that goals for jobs are clear so they can be excited about the jobs they will be applying for."

Some experts advise asking candidates flat-out about their values, motivators and purpose. "It's straightforward and people will answer … very differently," Cruz said. "If the purpose of the company ties in with their own purposes, that's a great sign."

Carol Quinn, CEO of interviewer-training firm Hire Authority, based in Delray Beach, Fla., and one of the nation's foremost advocates of assessing candidates for passion, believes that traditional behavior-based interviewing does a reasonable job of assessing skills but falls short when it comes to discerning an applicant's motivation.

"Motivation-based interviewing is a method specifically developed for hiring high-performers," Quinn said. "It's a system that seeks to identify high-achievers by uncovering their internal drivers and examining both their passion for the job and attitude toward overcoming obstacles to achieve goals." 

Many behavior-based interview questions allow the applicant to spin overly positive responses, causing interviewers to overrate them, Quinn said. The motivation-based method's main objective is to determine if a person is a high-achiever or an average worker by asking a series of questions that show how a person handles obstacles. "Achievement is a process," Quinn said. "Does the person approach goals and the obstacles that come with those goals with a can-do, problem-solver attitude, or does he or she give up, blaming external factors for failure? Obstacles force a reaction: Either I can or I can't. Self-motivated people can talk about overcoming obstacles in detail, while people who aren't as highly motivated cannot."

In addition, specific questions can assess an applicant's passion. Passion is assessed by determining what motivates the candidate most, and it's considered the single most powerful natural self-motivator, she said. "You can tell me how important it is to build an O-ring for the space shuttle, but if I don't like doing it, I won't be a high-performer. Interviewers need to understand first what motivates a candidate, and then see if that matches the job."

Ideally you want a passion-job match, Quinn said. "For example, the notoriously bad service in the customer service industry is not because of lack of training. It's hiring people who don't like to serve customers."


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