What Do Different Corporate Cultures Look for in Resumes?

Match your resume to your targeted corporate culture

[This is a guest post authored by Wendy Dessler; see her byline below.]

Corporate culture is one of the hot terms buzzing around hiring these days. While things like benefits packages, pay, and even the specific field matter when searching for a job, it all comes back around to corporate culture. What is corporate culture? It’s the climate within an organization. It’s the shared values, beliefs, and so on that define the entire workplace.

Corporate culture has influences both employees and job seekers. A startling 58% of employees have left a job or would consider leaving one if they believed the culture was full of negativity and office politics. Looking for the right cultural fit is a must when looking for your next job.

Because cultural fit is so important, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it affects your resume as well. Once you know the type of corporate culture you’re looking for, you can create a resume that’s suited specifically for this type of environment. If you’re ready to get noticed by the right corporate culture, read this guide on exactly what different cultures look for in applicants’ resumes.

The Types of Corporate Cultures

There are 4 main types of corporate cultures developed by professors at the University of Michigan and outlined in the Competing Values Framework. Even if you’re not familiar with their formal names, you’ve probably experienced them for yourself.

  • Clan Culture: As the name implies, clan culture is like a big family. These are companies where people often have a lot in come, are loyal, and share traditions. Examples of clan culture companies include Google and Tom’s of Maine. It’s also very popular amongst startups.
  • Adhocracy Culture: The main focus of an adhocracy culture is risk-taking and innovation. Leaders are inspirational innovators, and the core values are around change and flexibility. This is common with tech companies like Facebook which need to stay competitive. 
  • Market Culture: In a market culture, it’s all about getting down to business to be more successful. There’s usually competition here at all levels, even amongst coworkers. Amazon is a great example of this type of environment.
  • Hierarchy Culture: Finally, process matters most in hierarchy cultures. This type of culture likes to stick with the tried and true approach, not taking many risks. There’s an emphasis on following protocol and sticking with what works. Examples of this would be government and healthcare organizations.

Which of these corporate cultures appeal most to you? Understanding which one is the right fit for your skills and motivations will help you tailor your resume to see results. It’s safe to assume the company you apply for has found an applicant tracking system that fits the company's needs. These systems cut down on the number of applications by looking for key things, so here’s what you need to stand out.

Align your resume with your targeted corporate culture

Clan Culture Resume

If you’re interested in standing out in the family-driven clan culture, you’ll want to focus on how you’re a team player and how you value loyalty. Including your experience working with the same companies for a longer period will work in your favor. Here are the values to consider:

  • Teamwork: When were you a team player? How do you work in a team environment?
  • Loyalty: How have you shown loyalty to past employers?
  • Values: What values are important to you in your career?

These are the things you should make clear on your resume. For example, if you’ve worked at your last employer for a decade, include that. This shows you really take the company family seriously.

Adhocracy Culture Resume

What about a culture built on productivity and innovation? How do you stand out? Leaders in these types of companies are generally looking for self-starters. They often give their employees of all levels more freedom to take risks and make big choices. You need to demonstrate that you can be that person with the following:

  • Leadership: Now is the time to show off any leadership experience. Have you led teams in the past?
  • Self-Sufficient: Can you work independently and without much leadership direction?
  • Agility: Are you able to work quickly with new things? How fast can you learn new systems and processes and adapt to company-wide changes?
  • Creativity: Showing your creative side could distinguish you from other candidates. This is one of the few opportunities to create a resume that stands out visually.

If you’re a fast, innovative worker, this could be a great fit for you. If you work best independently and hate using outdated practices, make sure this shines in your resume. Hiring managers in these types of cultures value real-life examples. Show as best as you can just how you’ve innovated in the past.

Market Culture Resume

Market culture workplaces are all about getting down to business. If you’re a no-nonsense worker who doesn’t give much attention to workplace politics or making friends, this is a great fit for you. You’ll need to show just how productive and competitive you can be with your resume.

  • Achievement: These companies value achievement. In what ways have you achieved highly in the past?
  • Self-Starter: In order to succeed here, you need to be willing to put in the work on your own. How have you done this in the past?
  • Productivity: Show examples of your own productivity skills in both a group and an independent setting.

These can be demanding jobs with demanding leaders, but they also come with big rewards to those who are a good fit culturally. When creating your resume for a market culture workplace, show doesn’t tell. These hiring managers want to see facts, figures, and results.

Hierarchy Culture Resume

Finally, with a hierarchy culture, it’s all about the process. This isn’t the place to do anything innovative and new with your resume. Stick to trusted formats and styles to show you respect the procedures they prefer. Here’s what to include on your resume:

  • Teamwork: Again, teamwork is a big part of this culture. You’ll likely need to show you can work cohesively as a team under a leader.
  • Guidelines: Emphasize how you’ve followed confusing, complex guidelines in the past. You’ll likely have firm instructions and protocols in this workplace, and you need to show you’re up to the task.
  • Safety: How have you mitigated risk by putting your safety and the company’s safety first?

In a hierarchy culture, it’s not about standing out. Showing that you have the skills and mindset to work with a team and still be productive is key.

Which Culture Is Right for You?

The more you know about corporate culture, the better equipped you’ll be to make a smart decision. When you’re creating your resume, give good thought to these things above. They’ll help you attract the best fit with your job search.

You probably can’t change a company’s culture, but you can find one that works with you. Finding your match will help the right people notice your resume.


Wendy Dessler

Wendy Dessler

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.

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