In 1992, James Carville, working as a strategist for Bill Clinton (the Democratic Presidential Nominee), coined the campaign strategy phrase “The economy, stupid.”  He was attempting to focus the campaign staff on the most crucial themes of the election.  This phrase was meant for internal ears, however the words eventually made their way into mainstream America and became a mantra of the 1992 election in which Bill Clinton unseated the incumbent, George H. W. Bush.  The phrase became the rallying cry of what turned out to be the most crucial issue of the election.

Most hiring managers will agree that the most crucial factor in hiring is a culture match between a candidate and the hiring organization.  Technical skills, relevant experience, and desired academic degrees may get you onto the short list of candidates, but it is your culture fit with the organization that gets you the offer. In short, the most important factor in deciding between candidates… “The culture, stupid.”

So if a culture fit between the candidate and the company is so important, how does one communicate a culture match to a potential employer?

“Your personal brand, stupid.”

Many of us focus on technical and other tangible skills when creating one’s personal brand.  However, one must put forth attributes that communicate one is a solid match with the company culture.  Does the organization pride itself on an entrepreneurial spirit?  Demonstrate this culture match through your brand.  Is the firm known for its strong customer service?  Communicate your commitment to customer service as part of your brand.  Your brand has to convey your hard or technical skills that are desired and the aspects of yourself that make you a good fit with the company culture.

Having this type of comprehensive brand will help you with your job search to ensure you find the proper match, culturally. And in the end, what really matters the most in finding a good career fit is “The culture, stupid.”


Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center.  In this role, he leads the center’s  employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies.  He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.