Let’s talk about why you should make 2018 the year you concentrate on employer reputation.
As consumer confidence grows, so grows the job market. And a healthy job market means lots of choice for top talent!
It is no secret that job seekers—whether they’re active or passive candidates—conduct online research to learn more about companies before they even take their first step to connect. The days when companies could place content out on the web and leave it untouched for months-on-end have radically changed. Candidates are looking for much more than a virtual “static brochure” about what it’s like to work there. User-generated content is a must. And that makes regular interactions on social networks vital to any recruiting success.
Much like your consumers will tweet about your newest product, your candidates are tweeting their last recruiting experience with you, leaving a comment on your blog, posting a Facebook update or review on Glassdoor, and much more. According to a study by Career ARC, 72% of all candidates polled who have had a bad recruitment experience have shared it online. So, if you think managing your employer reputation can be relegated to the bottom of your “to-do” list in 2017, or that your candidate’s voices, opinions, and reviews aren’t having an impact on your ability to recruit top talent, think again.
Building and keeping a strong employer brand reputation takes time, but following these simple “resolutions” will benefit your recruiting efforts almost immediately.
1. Foster a culture of trust
Trust is often talked about as the foundation of a company’s success between itself and its customers. But trust within the organization is just as important. Your employees must believe in each other, and believe in you as a company. When they don’t, communication, teamwork and performance inevitably suffer.
One of the most important factors job seekers are looking for is happy employees, both current and former. They'll look for reviews online that detail employees' experience with the company to find out whether most people trust the company’s actions are in their best interest, too. When this trust is present it spills over outside of your organization making your company a place where people want to work. When a company is respected internally and externally, it can’t help but attract job seekers that align well with its culture and mission.
2. Be radically transparent
Great employer reputation management is not only about reacting well to what people say about your hiring process, your brand, or your products and services, but also about whether to react at all and, if so, when. For example, in 2015, IBM launched a recruitment marketing campaign focused on drawing women to the tech field and to IBM. The company created a campaign called #HackAHairDryer, making the campaign about “girl stuff” rather than the many innovations that highly accomplished women working at IBM had achieved. The campaign was a disaster, forcing IBM to openly apologize for its short sightedness and fight the backlash of women tweeting about the campaign’s sexist approach.
You may not need to react to reviews on such a broad scale, but there are many career content sites where knowing “how” and “when” to react can impact your employer brand greatly. Sites today like Glassdoor, Indeed and Fairygodboss, (created by women for women), allow current and past employees to post reviews about their employers’ and their work experiences. These reviews are a prime opportunity for developing open and transparent communications. By responding to positive and negative comments companies can better influence the conversation online, flagging inappropriate reviews and responding publicly to reviews that are critical but accurate.
I know that often it seems the people with a complaint are the ones who feel the need to speak up in these reviews. But you can encourage your happy employees to share positive opinions about your company on those sites, too. Sometimes, you've just got to ask for them! And make requesting employee reviews part of your annual review process--not just during exit interviews, but during annual employee reviews as well. There’s no better way to show candidates your organization’s positive attributes than through the words of a current employee.
3. Treat your Google results as your business card
First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If there are negative words associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about. Check who shows up at the top of Google search when searching for “careers at your company name” or “jobs at your company name.” If you find that those search results are owned by job boards or negative reviews, make it your priority to create positive content that Google can pick up for your page 1 results.
4. Build a content action plan
Your reputation is firmly rooted in the story you tell. And whether you’re trying to connect with your customers, your candidates or with current employees, the more personally your audience can relate to that story, the higher regard they’ll have for your company.
What stories can you share that gets your audience excited about the innovations you are creating to make tomorrow’s world better? What stories can you relate about the people behind those innovations? Create content that may surprise your audience, inspire them, or spark their curiosity. Whether presented in a blog or as “revolving” content as part of your site, the story you tell will help your audience align with and respect the purpose of the organization, and how they could play a part as a member of your team.
Not sure where to start? Engage your recent hires to learn what they looked for in other company websites where they were considering opportunities. Make it a goal to add new content quarterly to your career site; the right content will not only make your site a destination for job seekers, but also help your employees stay proud and engaged in the work they do.
5. Improve your candidate experience
Candidate Experience is one of the hottest topics in the HR world. Since the mid-2000s, the term gained even more traction with the introduction of Talent Board’s CandE awards in 2010. However, despite the attention it receives, the topic of improving it is still a source of great consternation among Human Resource professionals, as they often struggle to connect the dots between external factors that influence that experience and the daily operations and processes within the recruiting process that ultimately define it. This struggle leads to uncertainty, inevitably delaying the adoption of simple measures that could lead directly to improving a candidate’s overall experience.
To ensure that we are on the same page, the Candidate Experience is the overall quality of ALL the interactions a job seeker or candidate has with your company through every touchpoint. An interaction can include awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, applying for a job, declining/accepting your offer and onboarding into your company.
Before setting out on a strategy to improve your Candidate Experience, you’ll need to take a few important steps:
- Create a candidate-focused vision that you can communicate to your organization. You can use other companies as your benchmarks but remember they don’t have the same people, process or technologies that you have in place.
The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles on how you are going to interact with candidates. Every member of the organization should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development.
- Understand your candidate personas. Not all candidates are the same. Each engages with your brand at different points along the way based on where they are in their job seeking journey and what stage they are at in their career. If your company is going to understand your candidates’ needs and wants, then identifying and building out candidate personas will help you connect and empathize with the situations that your candidates’ face.
One way to do this is to create candidate personas and give each persona a name and personality. For example: Anne is 30 years old; she’s an engineer, loves new technology and wants to use technology to change patient safety. She is adept enough to follow a video tutorial on her own on what makes engineers successful in your business, whereas John, a Business Analyst (42 years old) likes to follow a process and needs to see how your processes allow him to build upon your already effective and efficient supply chain management strategy.
Not sure where to start? You’ll find a handy guide to building a well-defined persona at this link; as important as this step is to understanding “how to connect,” I still don’t see many employers making this part of their overall recruiting strategy.
- Create an emotional connection with your candidates. Considering we just spoke about “telling stories,” I thought I’d put that into practice to illustrate the power of an emotional connection:
When a customer was late on returning a pair of shoes due to her mother passing away, Zappos took care of the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes without cost. But, Zappos didn’t stop there. The next day, the customer arrived home to a bouquet of flowers with a note from the Zappos customer service team who sent their condolences.
Yes, this is a remarkable customer experience from a leading retailer. But HR can create similarly remarkable experiences with candidates.
I know you have heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Well, the best candidate experiences are achieved when members of your recruiting teams and hiring managers take a few extra steps to create emotional connections with your candidates, regardless if they will be hired into the role.
For example, following up with candidates to ask about their interviewing experience, offering them feedback to improve their interviewing skills if needed and, most importantly, letting them know they have valuable skills to offer are small kindnesses that let candidates know they’re seen as a person, not as a potential “butt in the seat.”
Imagine how small measures, like these, can reflect on your culture!
- Lastly, measure your vision. Noted engineer and author W. Edwards Deming once said “without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” Sharing data that validates your efforts to improve your employer reputation will keep your recruiters and hiring managers invested in your vision. Keep track of where you were when you started, how did you progress along the way and in what ways/processes/areas you still need improvement.
Not sure how your reputation is being received by candidates? Let us help with a free analysis. It can help make getting your online reputation back in shape much more manageable, and there’s probably no other resolution that can have so much impact on your organization.