Debuted at DirectEmployers 2013 Annual Meeting & Conference, the Member Awards Competition served as a way to pay special recognition to our Members’ initiatives in the areas of recruitment, technology and OFCCP compliance.

Members from all different industries submitted their unique programs and we were impressed with each of the campaigns our Members had created. One such submission, and runner-up in the tier 1 category, came from Member company AOL. Aptly named the Cultural Ambassador Program (CAP), this initiative sought to significantly raise the bar on incoming talent by creating a recruitment program and process to define ‘culture fit’ and assess 2,500+ candidates seeking employment or current full-time employees against the new parameters.

Once created, AOL planned to launch the program globally to create consistency across all of its hiring locations, yet allow for enough flexibility to accommodate the program to fit the hiring location and brand. To begin, AOL chose to make the program selective and create training for each of the participants, while also constantly measuring it for further growth opportunities and improvements. During initial program development, AOL was able to create a cultural assessment guide, and a training program for the selected Ambassadors. They also were able to implement global cultural assessments and defined tools to measure the program’s impact and improvement, and provide the Cultural Ambassadors with a culture book that could be shared with candidates.

The Cultural Ambassador Program was a huge success for AOL! Employees who served as Cultural Ambassadors (CA) have the opportunity to work closely with hiring managers and teams across the company, while helping to directly influence AOL’s hiring decisions. The response from candidates has been universally positive as well. Candidates have commented that they appreciate being viewed as a ‘whole person’ and not just as a resume, and also value the opportunity to ask questions of someone outside the hiring team. Based on new hire surveys collected by AOL, 63% said that culture is selected as the #1 reason people join AOL, with the next highest selection being compensation and benefits at 12%.


The program was started with 50 CA’s in three countries in 2010 and now has over 175 CA’s in seven countries and 18 offices. The CAP team has also become a go-to resource for the executive team to get employee perspective around a variety of people issues at AOL. Also, AOL has seen positive results in their quality of hire surveys around the manager’s assessment of culture, performance and ramp-up time for their new hires.

Kudos to AOL for creating a program that would help proactively find candidates that would fit in their culture!

We know every Member has programs and initiatives they would like to highlight, and we’d love to hear about them. The DirectEmployers Member Awards submission deadline of November 7, 2014 is quickly approaching. Take this opportunity to throw your hat in the ring and stake your claim as “best in class.” Visit the website to learn more and be on the lookout for more posts featuring past award winners.

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