When it comes time to recruit, you want to make sure everything you do creates a path for a smooth new hire. Job descriptions are current and accurate: team members are lined up and ready to interview. You’ve done your homework on salary and are confident you’re competitive in the market. All the internal prep should make recruitment easy – but if your online brand doesn’t appeal to job seekers, the efforts may be in vain.
Your brand has to appeal to potential new hires just as it has to appeal to the consuming public. With so many jobs, applicants can pick and choose where they apply. With so much information available on the companies, they’re reviewing you long before you interview them. The result: if your brand isn’t appealing, they’re not applying.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a bad online reputation increases the cost per hire by 10%. They estimated it cost that much more to entice an applicant to accept an offer of employment. And that’s if you can get them in the door. Inc. reports more than half of job seekers won’t even apply to a company with a negative online reputation. Your brand is your business: it informs the public whether to shop with you or work for you. Making sure it attracts candidates and customers is the highest priority for business.
A BAD ONLINE REPUTATION INCREASES THE COST PER HIRE BY 10%.
It’s out there
The internet has changed the way we do business. Customers can find you from around the globe, and candidates can find out all the dirty secrets. Whether it’s a bad review from a consumer or negative comments from current or past employees, there’s no way to hide the fact that your company is a great place to work or a toxic work environment. Assuring your online presence represents your company in a professional, inviting manner is key to fast, successful recruitment.
Where you’re vulnerable
For some, online customer reviews provide insight into what the working conditions are for the company. When they see negative posts about wait times, slovenly environments or confrontational attitudes, they wonder what’s going on there. As negative customer reviews add up, your overall business rating goes down. For some job seekers, the number of stars (even if they don’t bother to read individual reviews) are a deal breaker when it comes to applying if there aren’t enough.
Businesses that ignore online customer reviews do so at their own risk. These need to be responded to politely and professionally, by someone who knows how and is authorized.
Since the majority of hires are local candidates, you’ll want to make sure your reputation thrives within the community. No matter how challenging the market conditions, maintaining your reputation for great products or services is key. Everyone is short-staffed these days, and trying to keep up with customer demand is a challenge. When wait times are long, offer a small snack to those in line. When customers finally get to the cash register to make their purchase, make sure to apologize for the wait and thank them for their patience. It’s often the smallest gesture that makes the biggest impact in person, which can translate to a good review online.
You’ll want to apologize for the snafu — and tell the reviewer you’d like an opportunity to correct the mistake. Often an apology is enough for the reviewer to either revise their post, or even take it down. Some businesses offer replacements or discounts for future products or services. If you’re able appease the customer, you may be able to shift or eliminate the review.
Some customers write bad online reviews for sport. If you find a review that’s unfair, offer a polite response, such as “We think you might have confused us with another restaurant — we’ve never served xyz here, so you can’t have eaten it here.” Defend your reputation, but make sure you do so professionally.
It’s a sad fact that more people will complain than compliment, so seek out boosts to your reputation if you can. When you do provide excellent service, ask customers to rate you online. It may seem self-aggrandizing, but positive reviews offset negative ones, and enhance your overall ratings.
Former employees can be another source of pain. They may provide negative comments on working conditions, direct bosses or the company overall. If what they say is true, you’ll want to correct the problem internally, but online damage control is also needed.
Reach out to the former worker and ask they take down the review. Let them know you’re sorry they were subjected to sub-standard working conditions; that you’ve read the review and are working to correct the issue. They may be willing to take it down. If not, you’ll have to work to improve conditions so future posts are positive, offsetting the negative ones.
If the negative review is untrue or unfair, contact the ex-employee and ask them to take it down. They describe horrible working conditions were the reason they left but you know they were fired for theft. Let them know you don’t want to post a response about the nature of their separation, but you will do so (professionally) if the post isn’t removed.
Companies ask current workers to write positive reviews to counter those that show them in a less-than-flattering light. This can be risky, suggesting employees are required to do so to keep their job, which also paints your organization in a bad light. If you have a few trusted employees that can post genuine positive reviews, consider asking them to do so. They may be helpful to restore your brand integrity.
JOB SEEKERS SEE THESE POSITIVE POSTS AND UNDERSTAND THEY REPRESENT AN ORGANIZATION THAT VALUES ITS WORK AND WORKERS.
Don’t just wait for reviews to showcase your company — do so yourself. Post positive ones on your website, and professional and social media platforms. Brag about the good works your company does in the community: boast about your employees. Job seekers see these positive posts and understand they represent an organization that values its work and workers.
Do you provide support locally? Post your Little League team’s successes with pictures and cheers. Do you celebrate your employees? Impromptu or planned celebrations posted paint a picture of a company that knows the value of a little fun at work. You may think small employee achievements are something to celebrate, so share them online, too.
Make sure the images on all your sites are positive and welcoming. Images of clean, tidy stores are inviting; delicious looking food is tempting, but go further:
Highlight happy people, working hard to serve their customers and support each other.
Showcase your diversity and inclusion as proudly as you showcase your product line.
Display your values – even your mission statement – prominently.
These images are brand ambassadors for consumers as well as potential candidates. The more you build your brand, the more traffic to your door.
Be a monitor lizard
Run a search yourself – frequently – to see where your company rates online. Once a month may be sufficient for some businesses; for others a weekly search is necessary. Make sure to respond professionally and with empathy to any negative reviews, working carefully to turn them around. Business owners or HR personnel may be the right choice for this task.
Your brand is your business. If you want to attract top talent, make sure to manage your brand as well as you manage any other aspect of your company.