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How to Attract Candidates With Your Company Culture

Diverse group of five candidates.Text reads: "How to attract candidates with your company culture:Highlight what makes your employees happy,Promote career development,Avoid using clichés & buzzwords,Show you understand the importance of their work"

“A fast-paced culture where we believe that those who work hard, play hard.” How many times have you read this line in a job description? Have you written those words yourself?

If phrases like these have made their way into your job descriptions, it might be time for an audit. But it’s not just your job descriptions — the company culture page on your website should also use words that reflect sincerity, positivity and growth.

Don’t be shy about what makes you excited to come to work everyday when writing your job description. After all, company culture can be the deciding factor between your business and another. So when writing about your company culture, whether in your job posting or on your website, keep in mind the following ideas to attract quality applicants.

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Use language that caters to the candidate

The words you use to describe company culture in your job descriptions reflects the way a candidate perceives your company’s culture before they even set foot in the door. And being aware of the best way to describe your company culture might just put your job posting over the edge for a prospective candidate.

When writing your company culture description, think twice about the words you use. Supportive, flexible, rewarding — all words that a candidate wants to read when they look into a company’s culture. Would you say your company is fun and engaging? Supportive and rewarding? Is it a challenging and innovative environment?

Additionally, remember to choose words that mirror the general vibe of your workplace. If you’re describing the culture at a blue jeans-friendly office, use language that reflects the laid-back atmosphere (e.g., buzzing, casual). If your organization is more formal, keep your language equally as modest. Anything else is dishonest and can mislead the candidates.

So how are companies putting this into practice? Look at how this company uses tone to highlight its values on their company culture page:

Words like “weirdness” and “spirit” aren’t used in just any company culture description. They set this company apart, making it an attractive company to work for.

Additionally, you might want to avoid using hashtags and emoji if you’re trying to hire a formal employee base, so make sure your tone matches the attitude you’re looking for.

On the flip side, less formal companies should dare to be more playful in the language they use. Perhaps you work for an app or young startup, for instance, and the use of emoji and hashtags in company descriptions is fitting — maybe even expected.

Check out how this company has more fun with their company culture description:

This company isn’t afraid to show a little personality in their job descriptions to help candidates understand what’s in store for them if they join the team. And this company description lets applicants know upfront that it’s a fun (maybe even silly, at times) place to work, which is a huge selling point for many.

Avoid using clichés and buzzwords

Think back to high school when your English teacher would knock points off your essay for every needless cliché you stuffed in there to meet your word count. If nothing else, you should avoid clichés for a very simple reason: they’re boring. And you can’t afford to be boring when you want a job posting that drives candidate engagement or sells your company culture.

Common clichés we see in job descriptions include:

  • “Work hard, play hard”
  • “Fast-paced environment”
  • “We’re all a big family”

These overused phrases have all but completely lost their meaning — and candidates can see right through them. As an example, take a look at this culture description:

This description doesn’t say a lot in these two sentences and falls back on clichés like “fast-paced environment” and “highly efficient and motivated.”

Similarly, in the following example we see a real company base their entire company culture description off of overused buzzwords:

“Team-oriented,” “people-oriented” and “outcome-oriented” don’t mean much to a candidate, as most companies—if not all—do this to some degree. Instead, use real examples with specific facts instead, such as:

  • “Break room with ping pong, a large-screen TV and endless snacks”
  • “Up to three weeks of PTO allotted per year to encourage a healthy work/life balance”
  • “Regular company and team offsites encourage a tight-knit workplace”
  • “Open office layout promotes collaboration, conversation and teamwork to drive results.”

When hiring talent, providing factual, usable information in your culture profile helps prospective candidates get a feel for your company right away. It also helps you weed out the candidates early on in the prospecting process that would never have gelled with the culture in the first place.

Related: Establishing an Incredible Team Culture: Five Things to Try

Highlight things that make your employees happy

Coffee and snacks are pretty expected these days, but what else do you offer? Are you that company that hires a bakery to deliver personalized snacks to your employees? Do you take them axe-throwing for team building trips or have weekly happy hours? You’ll definitely want to tell your candidates all about how personalized and fun your office culture is. Not only will candidates get excited about the position, but they’ll start to picture themselves as part of your team.

Here’s an example of how one company lists its perks:

These are standard benefits for full-time roles. Even if you neglect to include these in your company culture description, the candidate assumes them. Your job as the writer of a company culture description is to take it further than a bare-bones summary.

But what happens when your organization doesn’t offer additional perks like coffee bars or work laptops? In cases like these, be creative to explain (in detail) what’s great about the perks you do have. How many hours of PTO are offered per year? How does your health insurance stack up against the competition? If your company can’t afford to offer additional perks and benefits (like sports tickets and cleaning services), it’s often more important for you to write a standout and attractive company culture description to really reign in that talent.

This company does a great job listing unique benefits for an intern position:

Your current employee base is a potentially untapped resource when it comes to selling your company to prospective candidates. Ask around the office about things that keep your long-term employees sticking around. Consider asking things like “what do you do around the office to take a break? Is it effective?” and “what do you wish we offered here that we currently don’t?”

These questions can help you identify what makes your employees happy, and even discover what you could improve upon to draw in even more candidates. Use your findings to dictate exactly what your selling points are in your job descriptions and on your company culture page.

That being said, your employees might not reveal all when it comes to their thoughts about the company’s culture. Employee engagement surveys can be a great tool to gather authentic words and descriptions that describe your company’s culture from the source, and the anonymity encourages employees to be more honest.

Related: 10 Perks and Benefits for Your Business to Consider

Mention flexible hours and remote work

Surveys estimate that anywhere from 40% to 70% of workers in the US telecommute at least once a week (and that number is sure to grow due to COVID-19). In response, more and more companies are offering flexible hours and remote work as perks to attract candidates. These kinds of benefits let candidates know that your company values work-life balance and will support them in achieving this. Showing that your company will help foster the lifestyle a candidate is seeking could put you at a significant advantage over other companies your top candidates are considering.

Describe office design or location benefits

Does your office have an enviable location? Is it a flagship store in the center of downtown? Or does it have a beautiful view or are you located near the most highly rated restaurants, bars, and cafes in town? If so, feel free to brag a bit. When recruiting talent, take them on a tour of the surroundings in your description to help them imagine what it would be like to work at your office.

Promote career development

Do you offer support for career development? Perhaps your company encourages employees to complete training in their area and offers to pay for conferences. Is this position reporting directly to the CEO or a Vice President? Candidates get excited when the position they apply for gives them the opportunity to learn and grow.

Many candidates will also want to know how your company structures career advancement. Is your company growing fast and promoting from within? Does your company clearly outline paths to promotion? If your company has advancement opportunities, be sure to highlight them, so candidates know your company will help their career goals.

Be sure to mention if the career development benefits apply to the specific position or if they’re a part of your company’s general benefits.

Show you understand the importance of their work

When writing your job description, go a step beyond the typical hard and soft skills desired. A job description that can convey the role of their work and its context within their industry can make a candidate feel valued. When hiring waitstaff for a high-end restaurant, you can express how their work is essential to the restaurant’s success and that integration of the waitstaff and kitchen staff will bring a better dining experience to customers. Feeling that their work will be valued and recognized can have a strong impact on a candidate’s desire to join that company.

Highlight a collaborative office culture

Job seekers want to know if they’ll be able to help in meaningful ways at your company. If you’re looking for self-starters and candidates able to bring their own ideas onboard to improve your business, it’s important to mention that.

If you offer a collaborative work setting that gives candidates an opportunity to contribute to a variety of projects, include it in your job post. If you want candidates who will roll up their sleeves and contribute their own creativity and passion, make sure to advertise it.

Attracting candidates with your company culture description

Whatever it is that makes your company unique, find a way to let candidates know. Salary is often important, but there are so many other factors that candidates may value and you’ll never know what perfect fit might slip by if you don’t take the time to tell your candidates what makes your company culture special.

Anything you can do to set your company apart from the crowd is critical. By reevaluating your advertised company culture, you can take your hiring strategy to the next level and boost your chances of attracting the right candidates for your open positions.

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