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Cultural Fit

Thursday, September 11, 2014 8:06 am

What is Cultural Fit??

Cultural fit? What the heck does that even mean? Well in employment terms, it simply means hiring someone that fits within a company's culture (team dynamics). More people lose jobs because of a lack of cultural fit than because of a lack of qualifications.

Cultural fit is such a huge issue these days for companies as there is a massive financial cost if they employ somone and then soon find out they don't fit the team.  These costs come from,

  • Loss of operational  productivity – the average is 3 months to source a new employee
  • Advertising costs
  • Time taken by recruitment team/manager to go through the recruitment process – put up job advert, sort applicants, conduct interviews, make offer and hope they accept
  • Recruitment costs if using a recruitment agency

Managers know that if they employ someone that has all the skills that they need but will not fit in with the team then they potentially will have to go through the recruitment process all over again, or worse, do it multiple times as the existing team members leave due to the poor culture created by the new employee. Employers will employ a candidate that may be a little short on qualifications as they can fix this by sending them on a course but they cannot fix/change someone’s personality.

With Defence people, employers know that they will get some amazing qualities but they will also have some cultural concerns if they have not had contact with Defence people before.  They will have a perception that they get from places like

  • Newspapers – Almost always negative
  • Movies – Nice one GI Jane!
  • TV – Patrol Boat??

You and I know that this is all far from the truth but that is perception and they could be concerned about your cultural fit.  From a management position point of view, there is a concern that a military managers manage by yelling, screaming and abusing employees and that is a cultural fit problem.

There are most definitely cultural differences from Defence to civilian but that gap has reduced in the past 10 years as there is a lot more emphasis on the culture within Defence and how you treat staff.

How do I address these concerns?

Far from wanting you to hide your Defence background, we want to promote your fantastic work history but there are ways that can help the employer relate to you.

The first way is to eliminate all military language, terminology and acronyms from your application and replace them with a language that everyone can relate to.  The second is to place achievements in your CV that show potential employers some of your culture by showing your work ethic, work attitude and communication style.

The third is to communicate at interviews as your CV does (NO military speak!).  Most people that we coach think that they do not communicate using military language but once we start the coaching it soon comes flowing out and totally scares the pants of the interviewer.

This language should be looked at as your very own language that only other military people will understand.  Would you speak French to a room full of English speaking people and expect them to understand you?  It is the same for your military language.

Eliminating all of these factors so that you true cultural fit can be seen by potential employers is vital and is why we started Trans-Civ, we made the mistakes for you in our early years after leaving the ADF and you get the benefit.

How do I assess their culture?

Good question, this is a really important part of the interview where you get a chance to ask questions that will help you to decide to take the job if offered.

Asking an employer “Can you tell me about your company culture?” is a good questions as long as you know what that means from your perspective.  If I was asked that question by a candidate, I would ask back “what do you mean by culture?” at which time most people sit looking at me dumbfounded as they are not sure what they are asking.  If you want to know a company culture question then that is great but you must know what you are asking.

Some examples of what can show a companies culture are:

  • Do they have a social club that staff and partners use to get together every now and then?
  • Do they celebrate company and individual achievements?
  • Do they support staff who want to upgrade their skills?
  • Do they support a charity?
  • Does the staff do things socially together such as play sport a t lunch?
  • Do you have team building exercises?

These are some examples of questions that can be asked to establish if the culture within the organisation suits your needs.

For help in assessing your cultural fit or that of a potential employer, contact us on 1300 366 104, or email