Did you know it takes an average of 52 days to fill a position, and that US companies typically spend $4,000 to fill an open position? This data from Bersin by Deloitte includes findings from 412 organizations, and the results are stunning. It found that high impact organizations have a 40% lower new-hire turnover rate and are able to fill roles 20% faster than companies with tactical recruiting functions. This has a lot to do with reputation. Whether you are a hiring manager, an interviewee, or a recruiter – you have probably had to handle some bad press in the professional world. Here are some tips for best practices when approaching this sensitive topic.
As a Company
A study by Glassdoor found that 84% of workers would be willing to leave their current jobs for a company with a great reputation, and that this would only require a 1-10% pay increase. More and more, people are looking to work for companies based on the culture over the paycheck. Meaning that your brand’s reputation is worth more than you think.
If your company has a bad reputation, the biggest thing is to not sweep it under the rug. The internet is a very unforgiving place and bad reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed will leave your business driving away potential employees.
So, your first step should be to own up to your pitfalls. Respond to Glassdoor postings and ask questions. See where in the process you went wrong and work to alleviate it in the future. When it comes to new hires, it would be beneficial to discuss these bad reviews and tell them about how you are working to change, because if they do research like they should, they’ll find those answers and come to conclusions on their own.
Finally, after working to fix the internal issues that caused the bad reputation, make your employees your brand ambassadors. Just as bad ratings can drive people away, good ones can draw them in. Encourage (but not incentivize) employees to share their experiences online. Not only will this help potential new hires to familiarize themselves with your company culture and set their expectations for the position, it will also help your current employees feel heard, validated, and valued. If you give them a voice, they will be empowered to help drive your brand.
As a Potential Employee
As someone in the market for a new job, there is nothing worse than researching a company you’ve landed an interview with and finding negative reviews about them online. All that excitement of finding that new opportunity can easily wash away with a few frightening reviews from old employees. It’s that much more nerve wracking sitting in a room with a hiring manager and having to answer that question, “Why do you want to work for us?”
Instead of sitting there and thinking Well, I’m not so sure I want to anymore… while flashing back to your midnight internet FBI-type investigating, take some steps before going to their office to make sure you’re not missing an opportunity.
First things first, call it out. If you are working with a recruiter, ask them head on what they think about the company and its issues. It doesn’t benefit the recruiter to lie about it or talk around it. Chances are they have asked the company these same questions after doing their own research and have had to share this information with other potential candidates. Recruiters will be the best resource for knowing the inside scoop on the issue without harming your reputation with the company.
And, if you’re not working with a recruiter, know that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to ask the hiring manager during an interview what the company has done about these reviews. Be respectful and try not to place blame. Try So I researched your company and I had some questions about your management team or There have been some rumors going around in the market and I just wanted to hear the truth from you. Chances are, if they are a truly good company, they will admire your ethics and recognize the courage it takes to bring up those concerns. Hopefully they will be able to address the issue and provide you with some answers about how they have moved forward to alleviate those problems. It’ll give you good insight into who their leaders are, and how they operate. Otherwise, if they push back or don’t provide answers, follow your gut and think about whether or not they are the right fit for you.
Most importantly, when you see these bad reviews, consider the source. Look closer at the review and see where the problem truly went wrong. Think about the last time you bought something off Amazon. You may have perused the reviews and come across a customer claiming, “this is the worst sweater on the planet, it showed up full of holes! Would never buy again!” Is this the only bad review among all others like “I bought 12!” and “Perfect fit!” Realize that in reality, the angry customer’s dog perhaps got to the mail first. Recognize that not all reviews are honest or hold the whole story. The single bad review from an employee on a Glassdoor page could be from someone who left the company on bad terms, or had their boss’s dog eat their sweater.
Finally, recognize the opportunity a “bad” situation can provide you. If you meet with a company, and hear their history and how it’s turned around, think about how you can elevate their reputation and work alongside them to build them back up. The companies in these situations are clearly in need of some new ideas, and there were probably several other applicants who read those reviews and turned away their offers without knowing the full story. Of course, never take a job that may be harmful to you or your career. But, if you see the company making a true effort you may be given an opportunity in disguise to grow with them. Don’t limit yourself based on someone else’s opinions!
As a Recruiter
This is a tough situation for a recruiter, because as the middle man there is nothing you can do to fix it. You are simply being employed, for a short time, by the company. On the one hand, you want to be selective of the companies that you place in because if they treat your candidates poorly, that can reflect on your firm. Depending on the issue it can also conflict with your company’s ethics. On the other hand, it really isn’t your fire to put out, and you should still maintain a good relationship with the company and its industry.
So your options are pretty limited. But you know it is important to not ignore the company’s standing, especially with candidates. As an industry based heavily on customer satisfaction, you cannot afford to be dishonest or misleading. It isn’t worth it to waste potential connections with a candidate or company for fear of stepping on toes. Which leads to the talk – with both the candidate and the company.
First, approach the company with the right attitude. There’s no way to possibly know the entire story surrounding bad press, after all it could be just a rumor. Try asking So I heard something in the market about your company surrounding ______. Give details, be specific and direct keeping in mind your relationship with the company. As the story unfolds, keep a neutral tone and avoid using statements that could be perceived as placing blame. Make sure to approach it with the candidate in mind, too. Ask What have you done to mitigate the situation? Or Moving forward, what will your philosophy be with new hires? What is your sizzle? Why should someone work for you despite this hiccup? More than likely, you aren’t the first person to bring the damaged reputation to their attention and as a company they have taken steps to repair their image. Let them be the ones to tell you their side of the story.
Hopefully your candidates do their research and can come to you with questions. But- even if they don’t- feel free to be proactive and let them know about the buzz in the market surrounding the company. If there is a turn-around story where the company has mitigated the issue, tell it. If there isn’t, discuss the candidate’s options. Worst case you scare them away from a “bad” company but build their trust in you and you can retain them for a future role. Ethical candidates = ethical business tactics = ethical growth.
All in all, be the closer. Ask the company the tough questions and relay the information accordingly.
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