Organizational Attraction – It’s more than the Money!

Topic: Staffing, Culture, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (2010)
Article: Fit with What? The Influence of Multiple Self-Concept Images on Organizational Attraction
Authors: K. P. Nolan, C. M. Harold
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood

What attracts a potential employee to a specific organization – salary, benefits, promotion opportunities? Yes, in part, but attraction also stems from something deeper – an employee’s own self-image. Self-image consists primarily of two parts: the actual self (or the compilation of traits and attributes that an individual believes him or herself to possess) and the ideal self (or the collection of traits and attributes that an individual would like to acquire).

According to image congruity theory, customers are likely to purchase products that reflect both their actual as well as ideal self-image. Expanding this theory, individuals on the job hunt should favor organizations that emphasize both actual and ideal self-image qualities of the candidate. But, these same candidates should be the most attracted to organizations which emphasize their ideal self-image qualities, because this should inflate self-esteem by making the candidate feel closer to achieving his or her ideal self-image.

And, the results of the reviewed study suggest that indeed, both of these factors (actual and ideal self-image congruence) are important when examining job seeker attraction to an employing company. Interestingly, however, organizations that more closely matched the job seeker’s actual self-image were linked to higher attraction levels than organizations more closely linked with the candidate’s ideal self-image.  This suggests that individuals on the job hunt may feel more comfortable with organizations that fit with the candidate’s current attributes. So employing organizations that wish to hire a particular candidate should place emphasis on the fit between the candidate’s qualities and strengths and the organization’s goals and vision.  

Nolan, P. K. & Harold, C. M. (2010). Fit with what? The influence of multiple self-concept images on organizational attraction. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 645-662.