Those of us who have been in the online dating pool know about vetting prospects. It doesn’t matter if you’ve developed a great rapport with someone. At some point, you have to ask yourself, “is this person going to boil my pet bunny?” Social media is obviously a good outlet to dig up potential red flags, but it is also curated by the potential maniac. A Google search tends to be a more reliable indicator since it reveals the good, the bad and the ugly. If the budding love interest collects toenails and was once the leader of a cult, it will usually pop up before page three.
Whether companies realize it or not, potential job applicants are performing this same smell test before they ever agree to an interview. When unemployment hovers at 3.7 percent and ghosting has become a thing in the workplace, candidates can afford to be highly selective. If they see a company with glaring problems, they may choose to pull the ripcord before those problems suddenly fall into their lap. Just what are candidates looking at, and how can you shine up your company to look its best? Let’s take a look at four vehicles that can quickly make or break you online.
Four years ago, I was rejoining the workforce after running my own consulting firm. The recruiter setup an interview with a company called Innovative Architects which provided Microsoft consulting services. After hanging up with the recruiter, I Googled the company to get a feel for what made them tick. To my shock, their website design was awful. All of their content spoke to the fact that they were a first-class technology firm, but the visual representation undercut this message at every turn. I took the interview and ended up accepting the job, but I had some serious reservations about the firm before I ever sat down to talk with anyone at the company.
What does your website say about you? Was it developed ten years ago? Does it feature Flash animation? Is the content a virtual time capsule of where your company stood five years ago? Your website is the first thing a candidate sees when they perform their research. You can’t afford to project anything other than your best. You should keep its content up to date by regularly swapping in recent projects and initiatives. Let your design team give it a needed face lift every two to three years. Devote a section of your site not only to job opportunities but also to what life is like at your firm. Play up your strengths and try to stir up excitement before that first handshake is made.
If a companies’ website is the candidates first stop, Glassdoor is probably a very close second. Glassdoor serves up a wealth of information around salaries, benefits, interviews and employee reviews. It is a more trustworthy source than the companies’ overly glossy view of themselves. Actual employees are telling you how fat their paychecks are, why they cussed the boss out on their last day and what hoops you can expect to jump through during that initial interview. When they go bad, people really unload their grievances like this beauty about ETrade.
Glassdoor is an outlet where businesses reap the benefits when they walk the walk. If your focus is on business culture, work-life balance and building up employees, it will shine through on Glassdoor. If your company is failing in these areas, be prepared to be taken to the cleaners. You can’t expect every employee to always be happy, but the aggregate should tell the story of a healthy, inviting work environment that people are eager to join and are torn to leave. If there are negative reviews, companies should respond honestly and sincerely so potential candidates see that problem areas aren’t falling on deaf ears.
Glassdoor doesn’t have a monopoly on culling company information. Indeed and some of the other job search websites do as well. It’s worth keeping tabs on everywhere your reputation could be sullied.
A previous CEO I worked with once called social media crap. “It doesn’t bring in business, and it’s a waste of time,” he said. He was a colorful guy. While I would agree that social media isn’t necessarily a driver for business, it does have a lot of value as a vehicle for branding and PR. You’ve been given a rare gift to serve up your message to a group of followers as often as you’d like. When done right, it can be a direct reflection of a companies’ personality.
When candidates go to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, you want them to find a lot of happy faces running a 5K, celebrating employee accomplishments and really building a community. Applicants are going to want to be a part of that. Personalize your social media channels by cracking the occasional joke, sharing an interesting story and generally seeking out ways to connect with your audience. It may not show up as a chunk on your sales pie chart, but social media can provide potential job applicants a window into your business.
Great Places to Work
Fortune and Inc publish yearly lists where they spotlight the best and the brightest corporations to work for. You’ll even find them at the local level. In Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal Constitution features its Best Places to Work award each year. Similar to Glassdoor, this isn’t something that you can fake it until you make it. You either have a strong employee-focused culture or you don’t. Your employees are anonymously putting numbers on every aspect of your business. Even if you don’t qualify, it can be an eye-opening exercise to see where the cracks have settled in your organization.
If you think your organization has what it takes, throw your hat into the ring for consideration. By certifying that Inc or your local paper has declared you one of the top 10 mid-sized companies in your market, it is social proof that employees love working for you which will only attract more. The only problem is once you are on this hamster wheel, it can be hard to get off. If you were recognized as a Great Place to Work from 2013-2016, candidates are going to wonder what happened over the last two years to cause you to fall off that prestigious cliff.
Cultivating a pristine online presence for your business takes hard work. It includes executing a broad initiative in all facets of your business, making it a place where employees grow and thrive. Getting it right can be the difference between attracting A-level talent or being forced to sift through the second and third-tier candidates cast off by your competitors.