Culture Alignment Must-Haves in Your Next New Hire

We all want the perfect candidate…the one who checks all the boxes and is a perfect fit. But the reality is we face trade-offs…stronger soft skills at the expense of 10+ years of experience, or vice versa. Certain culture and values-focused traits transcend work experience or skills and become must-haves for every hire. While we all search for that elusive ‘ideal candidate,’ we offer up a few specific traits we think you should be looking for right now. While not exhaustive, this list hits on some broad themes that would help companies facing trying and challenging times ahead.

January 2023

Dan Hunter


Lauren Hunter

Research Services Manager

Standing firm in the face of adversity

There is a high level of uncertainty in the market and the broader economy compared to previous years. Looking for candidates who highly value or display resilience and grit is key to weathering the coming challenges. While it makes sense to always look for high levels of resilience, when you see challenges on the horizon, it's even more critical to find candidates who can stand against the wind and the rain and come out as strong as they started. They'll be more likely to display loyalty and endurance during the harsh times, still giving you their best work.

Flexibility is king

With the job market constantly shifting and responding to any number of trends, there is always a great need for flexibility. Employees adopting a flexible mindset tend to experience lower stress levels and better overall well-being. A typical amount of agility is expected out of any employee, but there are some who are highly adaptable and can move into new roles or assume new responsibilities quickly and without a loss of satisfaction or engagement. Having one or more of these strong contributors can be a boon when dealing with the unknown. As a true "utility player," their ability to adapt and fit any role as needs change is only the starting point to their exponential value. Look for these teammates and their potential to be key players on your team.

Working independently, but not alone

Independence, especially in candidates who are more productive when unsupervised, is a good trait if you've noticed that your leaders are stretched thin. These hard workers can maintain focus and drive even when "the boss" is not watching or immediately available. Having someone who can be left alone with a list of tasks, going hours, or even a whole workday with only one or two check-ins can offset those individuals on the team who require more intense supervision. Balancing your team with a healthy number of independent workers broadens the scope of what your leaders can manage while not wearing them down.

Innovation and curiosity drive results

One key trait to look for in your job candidates is a high degree of innovation. This ability to use creativity and a healthy dose of risk-taking can bring about positive change in many facets of your company. Innovators may think of a new channel or message to help generate leads and close clients faster if you have products to sell. They may be the employees who find ways to do more with less, thus driving efficiency. It could be a quality issue they improve, increasing the overall value of your product. This level of innovation is complemented and fueled by one crucial trait: curiosity. Look for people who take on each new challenge with enthusiasm and a spirit of learning and challenging the status quo. Innovative employees are able to make a larger impact in their roles. Through creative problem-solving, they also find ways to work more efficiently and effectively, which can cut costs for their employer.

All four traits can drive an organization to success, but only if they're firmly embedded in the company's culture. Simply hiring people with these aspirational traits is not enough…they need to align with your atmosphere and workplace values. Organizations that stand firm against the adversity of industry and market challenges are well-served by recruiting candidates who likewise share this resilience. Agility allows companies to respond to changes and trends only when they align this focus with their workforce. Hiring candidates who optimally perform when given the trust and freedom to operate independently will only stay engaged if the leadership shares this vision for their teams. Lastly, companies and individuals who innovate have a similar tendency toward humility…learning and curiosity are born from the belief that one doesn't know everything. When that is expressed in an organization's culture, the sky is the limit. As mentioned before, this is not a list of the only important culture-focused traits you should be considering, but they'd be at the top of anyone's list who wants to prepare their workforce for the challenges ahead.

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