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Are you struggling to make new hires? If your business sector is booming, perhaps a shortage of skilled workers is to blame... but it’s also possible that your corporate culture is hampering your recruitment efforts. Here’s how you can find out and what you can do about it.

Does Your Corporate Culture Scare Off Candidates?

It’s not unusual for top candidates to show hesitation, or even walk back their interest in applying despite being very interested in the position, as soon as the recruiter tells them the name of the company that’s hiring. Julie Laurin, Recruitment Director at St-Amour, explains this key issue and suggests some solutions. 

“In a time of low unemployment like we’re experiencing right now, candidates place a lot of importance on an employer’s brand and corporate culture.” 


Candidates go beyond the job description, salary and benefits to consider other factors: the company’s values, workplace relations and office environment. In other words, the corporate culture.

Since this is a major influence on the quality of a job and its long-term viability, it warrants careful attention, starting at the recruitment stage.

Warning Signs

Perhaps you have doubts about the way people perceive your company. To gain a better understanding, Julie advises focusing on four key factors: 

  • The company’s reputation: People talk, whether on social media or in the pub after work. Keep your ear to the ground and regularly check out what’s being said about your company. Comments posted on sites like Glassdoor and RateMyEmployer are highly subjective, but candidates read them. Be ready for related questions and develop your communications strategy accordingly.  
  • The number of candidates: A low number of candidates may be related to your company’s reputation. Your recruitment specialist can provide you with a neutral, external perspective.

“I regularly have discussions like this with my clients, because it’s important to understand the company’s DNA and identify what could cause problems. This also makes it easier to determine how to approach candidates.” 

  • The turnover rate: Calculate your company’s voluntary turnover rate and systematically conduct exit interviews, with an emphasis on active listening. These interviews are an excellent way to learn more about what isn’t working within the company and to make adjustments with future hires in mind. 
  • Engagement: If people don’t ask many questions or don’t seem interested in the company’s projects, it’s not a good sign. Employees’ general attitude, as well as specific tools such as 360-degree assessments, should give you an idea of employees’ level of engagement and what could be improved. 

Potential Solutions

Besides driving away candidates, an oppressive culture or a bad reputation may decrease your retention rate. Here’s Julie’s advice for turning things around:

  • Prepare for job interviews like you prepare for meetings with a client.

“Unfortunately, recruiters showing up for an interview without taking the time to read the candidate’s CV carefully or to prepare relevant questions is something that still happens. This creates the impression of a total lack of professionalism.”


The hiring interview opens a window onto life at the company and how it treats its employees. According to Julie, when considering your employer brand, factoring in the candidate experience is an absolute must.

  • Consider the possibilities of telecommuting. Julie sees it more and more: candidates are prioritizing work-life balance and seeking to avoid long commutes. Telecommuting is therefore in high demand. It’s important to think carefully about this for two reasons: first, because you need to establish clear rules if offering this option, and second, because telecommuting has an impact on corporate culture and may make it less uniform. You therefore need to come up with solutions for reinforcing it.
  • Encourage employee initiatives. Cultural change has to be driven by people.

“Of course, management must lead by example, through strong values and actions, but you also have to encourage initiatives that correspond to the behaviour you wish to promote within the company.”


St-Amour, for instance, recently invited its team to wrap gifts during work hours for Make-a-Wish® Canada, an organization that helps make the dreams of children suffering from a serious illness come true. This activity brought employees closer together while highlighting the values of giving and commitment. 


According to Julie, it takes time to build a corporate culture. It’s created by the day-to-day attitudes, decisions and actions of employees, bound together by the common thread of communication – which is also a vital element in successful recruitment.


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