Online Reputation and Recruiting

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

May 21

Your Online Reputation & Recruiting

Just last week, Glassdoorthe CEO of a to-be-left-nameless international firm expressed frustration at a quarterly town hall meeting that the results of the company-sponsored “engagement survey” (which were overwhelmingly positive) were not consistent with the scores and opinions to be found online (which were not). He specifically cited as, frustratingly, reflecting a much different view of the organization than the official corporate survey (Glassdoor is a job search site that also allows current, prospective, and former employees to post reviews of a particular organization). For a company that is trying to recruit competitive talent from Silicon Valley and other highly competitive areas, this represents a potentially serious problem. If prospective employees query the company and find unfavorable reviews, the strength of recruiting efforts suffers.

The CEO encouraged current employees to go online and write reviews that truly express satisfaction levels at the company.  I’m sure that he didn’t intend this to come across as a demand to post additional positive reviews to balance out the negative reviews currently found, but it certainly did.  The stakes are high, but the CEO walks a thin line; as it stands, employees are online with their own digital reputation, not as corporate employees.  By enlisting them as human beings to boost the corporate image using their own online social equity, a line on the sand is drawn: how honest should or could employees truly be?  Will their efforts be tracked and affect workplace comfort and standing?

That is the first issue that is at stake here. But the second issue is that this highlights a trend that is certainly on the rise in 2014: the use of social media in HR, but not simply in potential employers’ ability to see your embarrassing drunk college photos on Facebook — to allow potential employees to see any dirty laundry aired on the internet by current or past employees of an organization. Global online reputation management has never mattered more.  As the Baby Boomers retire in the next five to ten years, competition for talent will be fiercer than ever.  And if companies are described online as unfavorable or undesirable places to work, they will be at a serious disadvantage in the global marketplace.  After all, 47 percent of Millennials now say a prospective employer’s online reputation matters as much as the job it offers, according to a survey by Spherion Staffing.

Interestingly enough, since this town hall, no additional reviews (either negative or positive) have been listed for the company. The people have spoken, apparently, in not speaking. Employees cannot be compelled to contribute to their employer’s online image in recruiting; in my humble opinion, I’m relieved.  To be truly representative and legitimate, opinions must be unsolicited, and I don’t think the Internet — at least at this point — will support anything else.

(All accolades and credit for this blog post are for Bethany Dotson who is the author and content creator.)

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