“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 company’s language and culture 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.
After all, company culture can be the deciding factor between your organization and another, especially in the tech industry where talent is in demand and candidates are often allowed to be a little picky about where they want to work. So when writing about your company culture, whether in your job posting or on your website, keep in mind the following words and phrases to include—and avoid.
Use language that caters to the candidate
The language you use 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 office. 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 buttoned-up and corporate, 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 Zappos uses tone to highlight their organization’s values on their company culture page:
Words like “weirdness” and “spirit” aren’t used in just any company culture description. They set Zappos apart, making it an attractive company to work for.
Additionally, corporate companies might avoid using hashtags and emoji (if the candidates you’re interested in pulling are less casual). In other words, if you’re trying to recruit a formal employee base, make sure your tone matches the attitude you’re looking for.
On the flip side, less corporate 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 Syncro has more fun with their company culture description:
Syncro 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.
Meanwhile, government jobs, such as the following role, is more straightforward in their description of perks and culture:
For the type of audience that this government job is hoping to attract, not much else is needed. They describe more than just health and retirement benefits but don’t go overboard on personality, because that language likely doesn’t resonate with their intended audience.
Ditch 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 on a listing for a full stack developer position:
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.”
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.
Here’s a real example of a company culture description from Garmin that gives candidates an authentic idea of what to expect at the organization:
In this example, we see how Garmin avoids using clichés while underscoring what’s in it for the candidate (beyond salary). They go on to describe how they strive to contribute to the greater good of the world, which is something many workers look for in their dream role.
Highlight things that make your employees happy
Coffee and snacks are pretty expected these days, but what else do you offer? Understanding what you should and shouldn’t highlight about your company’s culture is key to crafting a standout company culture description.
Here’s an example of how one company lists its perks:
These are standard benefits for full-time tech 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.
Attracting—and keeping—tech talent with your company culture description
Sourcing and hiring tech talent is already hard enough, but there are steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself by hooking talent from the get-go. And when it comes to the largest represented generation in the workforce (often referred to as the “job-hopping generation”), Millennials can be the trickiest group to keep around in the long-term. According to PRWeb, “Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are an incredible 25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at their workplace.” And it all starts with your company’s culture description.
In the hyper-competitive field of hiring tech talent, 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 bringing in the most in-demand talent in town.