7 Signs Your Company Isn’t Cool Enough To Work For

January 15, 2015

Any seasoned recruiter can tell you - the task of finding good employees for open positions is getting tougher. We’re quickly moving into a situation where job seekers have the upper hand. The choice of who to work for will be up to them. [This article on LinkedIn explains why companies will need start wooing talent fast.]

Therefore, companies with serious hiring needs in the next year should be asking one important question, “What makes it cool to work at this company?”

NOTE: Cool Is Subjective

The definition of what makes a company “cool” to work for isn’t clear-cut. It’s an opinion that can vary widely, depending upon the candidate and their unique needs. However, one thing is clear - top talent will expect employers to offer more than just good pay. They want the total package!

So, How Does Top Talent Determine If A Company Is Cool?

My company has access to over 800,000 professionals who visit our site monthly to learn more about potential employers. We surveyed them to determine what they look for in a cool company. Based on their feedback, here are the most common themes:

  • I admire and respect the product/service the company delivers.
  • The founders have interesting and impressive stories about why they started the company.
  • They’re known as far-and-above the “best” in their industry.
  • They do something truly unique or cutting-edge in their industry.
  • They do things as a company that foster friendship and caring amongst co-workers.
  • The workspace is updated and inviting.
  • They offer benefits that help me live a more satisfying life – i.e. scheduling flexibility.
  • They make a measurable difference in the world.

As you can see, even those could be widely open to interpretation. It’s really up to each company to assess and define how they fit into the traits above. Which leads to my point…

Your Company’s Not Cool If…

It can be hard to evaluate your company cool factors. You may feel there is nothing special or unique about your organization. Or, even worse, you may think you’re cool when you aren’t. You may need to bring in some outside expertise with ‘fresh eyes’ to help you see what your true cool factors are. To help you evaluate, I’ve put together a list of seven signs your company may fall in the ‘not cool’ category.

1.Your website looks like it was built in 1990.

As the famous actress, Doris Day said, “People hear what they see.” Top talent always, ALWAYS research a company online before they apply. They don’t want to waste time applying to a place that doesn’t impress them. If your website looks boring, old, stuffy, plain, or cheap – they’ll move on.

2. Your social media presence seems automated and void of personality.

Social media is used today to give a voice to a company. If you aren’t regularly interacting on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, this tells top talent your company is either A) not tech-savvy, B) has nothing interesting to share with them, or C) has something to hide. Social media is a mainstream marketing tool. Not using it today makes your company look behind the times.

3. An internet search on your company provides no interesting stories about your success.

Cool companies have stories written about them. They’re in the media because they do things that matter to the world at large. If your company isn’t getting showcased for its success, then top talent will assume you aren’t as good as you say you are. You need third-party credibility to prove you are worthy of their respect and admiration.

4. Your job descriptions look like they were written by a first-year law student.

Long-winded, overly-complicated, mega-descriptions put top talent to sleep. If your job descriptions sound pretentious and self-important, candidates will dismiss you. Especially, if you’re asking for a million qualifications but offer no insight into how the position really affects the company. Abstract lists of job requirements scream “boring” and “tedious,” and make top talent run the other way!

5. Your employees (especially, your executive team!), are nameless, faceless invisible beings.

If candidates can’t find any employees with impressive bios on LinkedIn. And, there aren’t any executive stories showcased on your website, or in the media, to help them get a sense of the personalities and management style of your C-suite. They aren’t going to be all that confident your company has a staff they’d enjoy working with.

6. There’s zero evidence to support your so-called “mission statement” truly drives your business.

Most mission statements are viewed as empty promises. If your company isn’t showcasing how you live and breathe yours, you’ll be seen as just like every other company that pretends they are committed to their stated values – but really aren’t.

7. You have no ties to the community or any kind of philanthropy.

Companies that do good deeds for others are seen as sensitive and having a soul. Top talent wants to know your company cares. Otherwise, you may find yourself labeled as a company that puts profits before people.

The First Step To Increasing Your Cool Factor

If you care about attracting quality talent, then you need to up your cool factor. However, you don’t need to suddenly invest thousands of dollars on an extreme Employment Branding makeover. Instead, start with a story. Go back to the checklist above that lists what makes companies cool and ask yourself, “What story can we tell about our company that proves we are cool like that?” Telling and sharing stories about your company is the best way for top talent to form a good impression about you as an employer. The more stories you tell over time, the more you’ll have to promote on social media, and to share with perspective candidates. Storytelling is your secret to becoming a cool employer. Here’s why…

Want To Be Cooler? Think Back To College!

When you tell good stories about your company, you create WOMP (Word Of Mouth Potential). Remember back in college when news of a hot party could go viral in a matter of hours? The same thing happens with compelling company stories – but with a better outcome! A recent survey shows 86% of all professionals said they’d like to find a new job in the coming year. Many of those professionals are passive candidates - a/k/a people who don’t hate their current job, and therefore won’t make a huge effort to find a new position. It’s a known fact passive candidates don’t visit job boards. But, they do pay attention when their friends and colleagues tell them a great story about a cool company. This leads them to check the company out to see if they’re hiring. If you want better talent knocking on your door, you need to create and distribute your company stories to create some WOMP of your own!

J.T. O’Donnell is a Top 20 LinkedIn Influencer and CEO of CAREEREALISM.com, a site that helps employers of all shapes and sizes tell accurate and compelling stories to recruit better candidates for their companies. You can learn more here >>

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