Social proofing is here to stay – so be prepared
Brendan O’Brien Partner – Technology Recruiting posted a LinkedIn update about comments on the social proofing site Glassdoor.com.
Wow! Just had another candidate cancel an onsite interview based on a Glassdoor review. Pulling out of an interview based on a Glassdoor review is the equivalent to making a critical life decision based on what a Kardashian said…rant over
What surprised me was that he was surprised. The development of social proofing as part of a corporate branding strategy, whether it’s AirBnB, Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, Rentalcars.com or Uber is a key part of the way we make consumer decisions today. We wouldn’t even think of going out for dinner, making a hotel or theatre reservation without checking the online reviews. It was only a question of time before it was going to be applied to the workplace on a wider scale. Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com have been around for a decade (the former) and even longer now for the latter. They have also been recently joined by sites such as InHerSight and FairyGodBoss which are active in the gender equity space.
Employers check out candidates online, it should therefore be expected that they will do likewise for the employer, the hiring and line manager and even the recruiters. Social proofing is considered by companies to be a prime marketing opportunity for their products. We are all invited to leave reviews and “likes” at every available opportunity
But part of the process is a need to be mindful of, and prepare for, potential negative comments. If a pattern does emerge, any organisation would investigate, whether it’s the state of the bedrooms, the taxi experience, the quality of the mashed potatoes or the holiday rental Fiat.
In the recruitment process less than positive feeedback is an automatic and immediate heads up to any candidate, that they should start checking the voracity of the comments. If we would consult social proofing platforms for a dinner date which lasts 3 hours, we would be mad not to be as thorough, if not more so, for our careers. This can be done via actual networking, as well as other online platforms. As a career coach I would strongly recommend my clients pick up a phone if they could, to someone in the organisation or the sector, to investigate the detail and the sub text.
The words smoke and fire come to mind.
For the employer, it’s a great opportunity to address specifically flagged up issues, which impact employee engagement and retention. That is, the issues that cause people to quit. The candidate can then decide if the comments from ex-employees are significant enough to be deal breakers for them, or the superficial rant of a disgruntled quitter.
Part of the routine
I routinely check for any comments about my clients on social proofing sites to see if there is anything out there in the ether we should know about. I’m a great believer in no surprises. One client had retention problems at a manufacturing site in rural USA and the realisation that these comments were gaining traction in cyber space and impacting their global brand, made them sit up, pay attention and take action. It also flags up that the exit interview process is not functioning properly. None of this should come as a shock if correctly carried out. If no systems are in place to track employee engagement and attrition then it will be horrifying. The issues could be about onboarding, salaries, general conditions adn benefits, the culture or even one specific manager.
Bill Boorman suggests in the New Rules of Recruiting that real candidates track an organisation via multiple channels, for up to 7 months before making a decision to join.
Applicants apply for jobs or a specific role, but candidates are attracted by the company: they go on LinkedIn, Facebook and investigate the company and interact with it.
Social proofing is here to stay. Recruiters and hiring managers have to accept that and prepare to leverage good feedback and tackle the negative. It’s a perfect opportunity to identify where any problems lie.