Employer branding has always been important to attract top talent, but today it is more significant than ever. The emergence of a generation of super digitally savvy candidates means that the standard ways of building a strong employer brand are no longer sufficient. These candidates are smart enough to lift the curtain and dig deeper.
What are digitally savvy candidates up to?
Research from the job the UK website “Indeed” which collaborated with Censuswide found that 70% of job seekers would not apply for a role until they had researched their would-be employer’s online reputation. More than 56% said they would not apply to a company that lacked an online presence.
Strong web site not enough
Many organisations think that having an attractive careers page ,on a good web site with a strong message is enough to create a strong message. But is it? As the competition for talent hots up the need for a pristine online presence and an impeccable digital reputation also increases. Today’s digitally savvy candidates are now coming of age where they are applying for mid-level and even senior jobs. Millennials now have kids and mortgages. There are even more ways they can check out potential hiring companies to see if there is anything going on under the surface. And they know what they are and where to look. Some time I wrote that social proofing was here to stay. Now it is taking over in importance to regular branding.
Jason was recently in a recruitment process for a mid-level role. “The web site was very professional and showed the company had great benefits and what looked like a good working atmosphere. There was generous holiday entitlement, a gym, a Friday tab. They featured interviews with employees just like me all claiming to be really satisfied! It sounded perfect so I was really excited. But there were some small red flags from the start which I didn’t pay enough attention to. We had communication delays and the interview time was changed several times. I rationalized this by thinking that stuff happens.
There were some veiled remarks about the manager expecting a strong work ethic and emails coming in at 02.00 a.m. When I finally met him after taking 2 half days off work and seeing multiple other people who told me that the job was pretty much mine, he hadn’t read my CV, or discussed my salary expectations. He was aggressive, almost rude and dismissive of my experience.
Jason has created a great word! Hire-zilla. A big destructive monster in the hiring process. It can be a recruiter or a hiring manager. In this case it was the hiring manager. He continued:
He was a real “Hire-zilla.” It was a terrible candidate experience and there was no way I would ever work at that company, even if they made an offer. When I checked on Glassdoor the reviews were terrible and reflected my experience. There were over 40 testimonials, more than 50% negative. No one had stayed there more than a year and the words “sweat shop” were used more than once. The management had contested some of the comments but in a very hectoring and dismissive way that seemed to be the accepted tone. It was all indicative of a toxic workplace”
Short of putting an NDA and a non-disparagement clause in employment contracts limiting disclosure then any employer should take this situation seriously. It might not be a brand issue now but it will only be a question of time.
How to handle negative reviews
So what if you are getting negative online comments. One or two are not important. Companies cannot be all things to all people. But over 20? That is a significant message that something is not right.
- Reflect on the feedback. It’s important to take a step back and reflect before taking action.
- Respond professionally. You are only allowed one response, so it’s important to make sure that the tone is direct and correct. If there are any inaccuracies or false details you can contact the website administrators and they may agree to reviewing and addressing the situation.
- Value constructive feedback. Negative reviews should be used as constructive criticism of your company’s activities, hiring processes and more. You should view this as an opportunity to discuss the area or areas receiving criticism and take appropriate action.
- Evaluate thoroughly. One negative review can happen, but over 20? That is a strong message. If it is the same criticism multiple times you have a problem.
- Frame the feedback. Is it one department or team where there is a single”Hire-zilla” or does it indicate a wider cultural tolerance of toxic behaviours? If it’s one person you need to deal with it. If it’s wider and deeper then a more profound assessment and audit could be necessary including an anonymous employee engagement survey.
- Encourage positive reviews. Satisfied employees are less likely to post reviews of an organisation on sites such as Glassdoor. Encourage your top performers and internal allies to add their positive comments. If they are reluctant to do that….. once again you have a problem.
- Carry out exit interviews. These have different levels of popularity but if an organisation is in touch with its employees then these reviews should not come as a surprise. If you have a NDA or a non-disparagement clause in the contract that is the point at which to remind them of that fact.
There is no doubt that employers can’t pay attention to every negative comment about their organisation. But if you have a high number of online reviews or comments which reflect badly on you it will lead to higher levels of churn and lower productivity. Eventually your customers will find out and your business will suffer. Today, it is only a question of time before all job seekers will fall under the heading of digitally savvy candidates.