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3 interesting examples about cultural awareness in the hiring and  job searching process

Cultural awareness is an often discussed topic in coaching sessions and within companies or organisations, I work with. We all know we have our own cultural glasses on in our daily life, but how to bridge these differences? They influence our actions and our perceptions. The ability to take off our cultural glasses, take other perspectives allows us to understand the other person and see someone for who he/she is. Since this is so important in the hiring process, I just had to write a blog on this topic.

Cultural differences have different dimensions, it can be differences between countries, generations, genders, religions and educational levels. In this blog, I will focus on the cultural differences between countries and continents.

I will provide 3 interesting examples about how cultural awareness influences the hiring process and job searching process. At the same time, I want to inspire you to think about the way your own perspective influences your actions. This blog is interesting to read for hiring managers and job seekers. It is also meant for all others who would like to know more about cultural differences and how they influence the hiring process.

Why is cultural awareness so important in the hiring and job searching process?

A few reasons why I believe it is so important to be culturally aware.

  • Cultural awareness allows you to differentiate your actions towards more mutual understanding in the hiring process. Or leading or working with an international team
  • Being cultural aware as a recruiter or hiring manager will increase the number of successful hires within a company
  • Being cultural aware as a job seeker will help you to moderate your actions and catalyse your job search

The impact of building bridges between cultures is huge. If we feel understood, we feel connected. This instigates a sense of belonging and this stimulates happiness in life and at work. The benefits of cultural awareness go beyond getting along, they are innumerable and becoming the norm within our global economy and intercultural teams. Cultural appropriate communication and non-verbal business etiquette are essential to success in running an international team. This is what we all know, but how do you implement it in your actions?

Cultural Competence strengthens relationships

Being aware of the common differences between cultures increases trust improves work relationships and streamlines projects. It also improves communication, which is the backbone of any successful team and this should also be incorporated in the hiring process. When are curious enough about each other to learn about cultural similarities and differences, and treat those differences with respect, the positive effect on engagement is powerful. This goes both ways, from the candidate towards the organisation and vice versa. Now let’s talk about examples about cultural awareness en how they influence the hiring process.

I dedicated the Monthly Masterclass of the Catalyse Your Job Search Member Programme to Cultural differences in applying. Have you found your way to this programme already? It’s  THE programme to join if you wish to have continuous job search support from beginning to end. Grab all information about this program over here.

3 examples of cultural awareness in job searching and hiring

Well, I already explained why I feel it’s important to address the subject of cultural awareness, but why did I choose the 3 examples mentioned below? The examples mentioned contain the most asked clients questions. They are the main things my clients (companies and individuals) run into in the hiring and applying process.

1. Dutch Directness or should we say explicitness?

The Dutch are known for their directness. If they have something to ask, they just do. Dutch are brought up with the statement: “if you don’t know something, you just ask.” This also means in the applying process you will run into direct questioning and asking more in-depth questions about the WHY behind your reasoning or actions. Or rejections or questions are answered in a direct way and feel blunt to outsiders.

I remember one of my clients followed up on her written application after receiving a rejection and asking for the reasons why. The answer she got was: “We want our employees to speak Dutch”. She perceived this as very straightforward and blunt. Others might think this is clear. Anyways, the conclusion is this company will not get any free positive publicity from her. I don’t think she will ever apply again over there, even if her language skills become superb.

So, managers and recruiters, this means bridging the cultural differences also relates to our way of questioning. If you are desperate for new staff and would like to hire more internationals, there are ways to address the things you would love to know at the same time. If someone avoids answering your question with a direct “NO” we don’t have to redirect and keep asking for it, we can also take the answer as omitting people who don’t have the experience.

As discussed in episode 5 of the Career Connection Podcast, this often also has to do with language and bridging language barriers. The Dutch could add a bit more politeness into their tone of voice simply by adding a please or a thank you.

2. Indulgence versus restraint

Why do employers want to know about my interests is a question I often get. Well, in an indulgence society like the Netherlands, people have a leisure attitude, value their time outside of work, have friends and practice sports. So, people will have interests.

Employers think they get to know you a bit better by asking about interests without realizing in a restraint society people spend more time at work and value a high work ethic. Often there’s no time to spend on interests. So recruiters and managers: Stop asking this question or the question: “Who is X outside of the workplace?” if you know the candidate is from a more restrained society compared to the Netherlands. And job seekers, prepare yourself for questions like this. No need to put an interests section on the resume if you are not actively practising one. Your interests don’t define your personality.

3. Individualism versus collectivism

In the latest Masterclass within the Catalyse Your Job Search programme I spoke about the most common cultural differences in the applying process. If your background is one from a society where “one knows one’s place” and all of the sudden you are expected to express your way of working, you might stop before you even started.

When recruiting we have to value the fact people highlight their accomplishments, and find a way to see through it by getting in touch with people and just letting them talk about how they got there. If you are job seeking and want to align with the common practices of applying, this starts with a bit of reflection on how you reach your goals. What competencies do you have that helped you reach your goals? We all work differently, no 2 mechanical engineers are the same. Many of my clients benefit from thinking about the differences in their approach compared to your colleagues.

If you’re able to highlight these points, make the obvious obvious in your resume and the job interview, you are well on your way to job search success.

    Who needs to adjust – the candidate or the organisation?

    The key thing I want you to walk away with after reading this post is this one: “Cultural awareness reflects in your actions. You can start today to change your actions.”

    You might have noticed the agreements between the 3 points mentioned in this blog. They all highlight the GAPS between what we know and how we act.

    We tend to hire people who are alike. I believe this is one of the major things we have to bridge when cultural differences are involved. By writing this blog I hope I stimulated you to reflect on your own cultural awareness and what this means to the way you handle your job search process or the hiring process. Please do know that I would love to help your organisation how to increase your cultural awareness to catalyse the hiring process.

    Actively job seeking?

    I would love to support you in how to deal with the cultural differences within the applying process. The Catalyse Your Job Search Member Programme is stacked with information about this topic. Grab all information about this programme following this link.

    There is always the possibility to schedule a 60-minute introductory call to learn more about how to find out if the Catalyse Your job Search programme is the programme to join taking your personal situation into account. Don’t hesitate to check my schedule over here and plan your call today.

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