Online Reviews and Employer Branding

The idea that consumers trust personal reviews more than they trust paid advertising is not a myth. According to the BrightLocal Consumer Review survey 2016, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 90 percent of consumers read fewer than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. Statistics from Merchant Warehouse show that 90 percent of Yelp users say that positive reviews affect their buying choices, and 93 percent of people who conduct research on review sites typically make purchases at the businesses for which they search. This may not be new news to you. The question is, how does this relate to employer branding and your recruiting practices? More than you might think.

According to Kirsten Davidson, head of employer branding for online jobs at Glassdoor, people usually read six to seven reviews before they form an opinion about an employer. A recently published study from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain found that online reviews have a strong influence on job seekers’ opinions of an employer. Several key points in this study are:

Candidates show more interest in applying to companies with positive reviews. Consumers are more likely to choose a product or service after reading positive reviews, and candidates are doing the same with employers. In addition, participants in the study said they were more interested in sending a resume to employers with positive reviews.

Job seekers required less money to work at companies with positive reviews. The researchers found that participants shown neutral or negative reviews required a higher percentage pay increase to leave their current job than participants shown positive reviews. If you think about it, this makes sense. Employees value more than money; they value recognition, the ability to learn and grow, flexibility in scheduling, and feeling they make significant contributions to an organization. An employer known for those things is more likely to get good reviews, and thus attract candidates to their culture more than the pay.

Employers should engage on review sites. As a consumer, we are more likely to have a positive reaction to a business that interacts with customers’ reviews, both positive and negative. A business owner’s reaction to a negative review can make all the difference. The same is true for employers. The authors of the Spain study suggested employers post information about why job seekers should consider working there. Additionally, they recommended that employers should respond to negative reviews by addressing criticism and explaining how they are implementing solutions. Per Glassdoor, 65 percent of users say their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.

Some things to consider:

  • Go to commonly used social media sites, like Glassdoor, and find out what people are saying. What are your ratings? How can you respond to them?
  • If your reviews are mostly negative, a bigger analysis of culture and employee value propositions may be in order.
  • Employers should see both positive and negative reviews as an opportunity to improve culture and recruiting practices.
  • Know that candidates and employees are savvy; they will see through disingenuous responses and postings. Be true to your culture, both the good and the bad.
  • Always be sure that interaction online aligns with the organization’s strategic plan and mission.
  • The stories you and your employees tell about what it’s like to work at your organization can be your most powerful recruiting tools. Ask yourself, what story am I telling when I talk to my friends, family, candidates, customers, constituents? Is it a positive story? Am I genuine when telling that story? Are my employees?

In a tight employment market, recruiting gets exponentially more difficult. A strong culture supported by online reviews and comments from employees and candidates will provide an advantage in the competition for top talent. Candidates and employees are writing and reading reviews about you. The question is, are you going to capitalize on the opportunity?