REPORT: How Radical Transparency Is Transforming Job Search and Talent Attraction

Today we live in an age of radical transparency. In our interconnected world we have almost instant access to a quantity of information that was unimaginable even a few years ago.

This online revolution has changed both simple things—such as how we decide what to eat for breakfast—and complicated, life-changing decisions—such as how we look for jobs. If job seekers want to know what it’s like to work at an organization, insider information in the form of reviews is but a few taps away.

But it has also changed how employers hire. A whole discipline of employer branding has emerged in HR; people working in this field seek to attract and retain talent by telling their companies’ stories and using an array of methods and solutions to proactively communicate the story of what it’s like to work for them.

Indeed’s Company Pages is one such solution, combining employer storytelling with employee reviews and ratings on work/life balance, compensation and benefits and more to provide deep insight to job seekers. The public nature of this feedback can make some employers hesitant, but today’s job seekers require transparency and insight into a company’s culture before even applying. And it’s a two-way street: Company Pages can turn those reviews to their advantage, and help employers more effectively reach job seekers where they are searching by collecting all the information they need in one place.

Recently Indeed redesigned our Company Pages and added new features, empowering job seekers and employers alike to connect faster (more on these improvements later). To mark this, we surveyed 500 workers in the US to dig into the details surrounding transparency and what it means in the world of job search and talent attraction: What are the new rules for taking control of your reputation and using radical transparency to your advantage?

Insight into company reputation is important for 95% of job seekers—and Gen Z won’t do without it

Not long ago you had to know somebody at a company if you wanted the inside scoop on what it was like to work there.

But now that workers can crowdsource this information through online reviews, we are all in the know, and assessing a company’s reputation has become an expectation for the overwhelming majority of job seekers.

In fact, 95% of respondents said that if they were considering a new job opportunity, insight into the company’s employer reputation would be somewhat (33%) or extremely (62%) important—the majority regarding it as extremely important.  

Those who have grown up in this era of transparency are most determined to research a company’s reputation when looking for a job. Of millennials, 71% said this was “extremely important”, compared to 55% of baby boomers. Even then, a clear majority of boomers agree that this is essential information.

What do job seekers most want to know? We asked workers to name the five most important considerations when researching a company before submitting an application.

The stability of the company was a clear winner (47%), followed by insights around benefits and perks, flexibility and salary ranges for relevant roles (45%). Next up was information about growth opportunities (41%), company management (34%) and the company’s mission and vision (31%).

But what happens if you don’t provide this information?

Inadequate online presence provokes “automatic” distrust from 70% of job seekers

Expectations surrounding transparency have become so ingrained that an absence of online information is a major red flag for the majority of job seekers, with 70% of job seekers strongly (38.3%) or somewhat agreeing (31.4%) that this would cause them to automatically distrust the company.

More than two thirds (69%) agree that they would actually doubt that the job opportunity was even real, with almost 2 in 5 (37%) strongly agreeing with this sentiment.

Of course, if people doubt your jobs are real they are unlikely to apply—and over two thirds (68%) of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that they wouldn’t apply to a position in this situation.

Again, millennials, who have spent their entire careers in this era of transparency, stand out in this regard. Of millennials aged 25–34, 84% strongly or somewhat agree they’d automatically distrust a company with no information, more than any other generational group. By contrast, only 16% of those aged 55+ strongly or somewhat agree, and 75.2% of those between 35 and 44 strongly or somewhat agree.

Today, then, it’s not enough to just post your jobs online. Job seekers are viewing your jobs in context. Providing rich information about the experience of working at your company is essential to building trust and getting applications.

Negative reviews are better than no reviews

Some employers worry about the impact that negative reviews can have on their reputations. This is reasonable—it’s something that every employer thinks about.

The good news is that many job seekers are open minded, and they will not automatically write off a firm because of bad reviews.

Less than a third (32%) of respondents said they somewhat distrust or strongly distrust a company with a negative online reputation. This number pales in comparison to the respondents who said they would automatically distrust a company with no online reputation information (70%). Only 15% were neutral.

So not being talked about is much worse in the eyes of job seekers than a few negative reviews, which are—after all—a fact of life. Meanwhile, how you react to those reviews is very important.

Over 70% of job seekers willing to change minds if employers respond to a negative review

It’s normal to be concerned about bad reviews, of course. But nearly every company receives them, and the biggest mistake you can make is to ignore them. In fact, if employers view them as an opportunity to engage, then they will benefit.

We asked our survey participants how they felt about employer responses to bad reviews.

Nearly three quarters of respondents said seeing responses from employers to negative reviews would change their minds. More than one third (36%) of workers surveyed said their perceptions of an employer would become much more positive, and 36.2% said their perceptions would become somewhat more positive if that employer responded to a negative review online.

As for respondents who said a response wouldn’t change their minds?

Only 19% of the people we surveyed fell into this category.

The takeaway is clear: engagement brings rewards. Treating your reviews as a discussion boosts transparency and a sense of authenticity that is attractive to job seekers. Want to know more? Here are some tips on how to respond to reviews.

Online company reviews second only to salary information when considering a job offer

Online reviews aren’t just important when candidates are researching whether or not to apply to a company. They also play a vital role at the other end of the process, when deciding whether or not to accept a job.

Only salary information was more important, with 57% of respondents saying that it is one of the most important considerations when deciding whether or not to take the job.

However, nearly half (45%) of respondents named online company reviews by current and former employees as one of the most important factors for making this decision.

By contrast, only 42% of workers said that word-of-mouth conversations about the company are an important factor, and a matching 42% said the same about the information posted by the company on an online review site.

Once again, it pays to open yourself up to employee opinions. Job seekers seek authenticity, and they will recognize and reward it.

Once again, millennials are also more receptive to employer responses than older workers, with 49% of people aged 25–34 saying their perceptions would become much more positive after an employee response, compared to just 6% of people aged 55 and over and only 10% of people aged 45 to 54.

What is to be done?

The culture and expectations surrounding job search have changed forever. Employers should embrace this new culture of transparency and seize every opportunity they have to start sharing their stories online and build their employer brands.

How can you do this? Each employer’s brand will vary depending on the business and culture of each organization. However, it is good to focus on compelling stories—human stories of how your company makes a difference and why its culture is unique.

Spotlighting how you enable employees to fulfill their own goals and aspirations is also key. Go beyond cliches of foosball tables and tacos. Today’s job seeker wants a job that provides meaning as well as a salary. Many firms highlight philanthropic activities.  

Company Pages play a crucial role here. On Indeed, employers can claim their employer profiles and use them to engage current and potential employees by hosting and sharing useful information, such as their company descriptions, photos and videos, jobs and other insights about their companies.

Indeed Company Pages Premium enables you to compare your ratings with those of competitors

Companies with employer profiles on Company Pages are also automatically eligible for Indeed’s employer recognition awards program, “Top-Rated Workplaces,” which helps job seekers identify top places to work by recognizing the best employers across a variety of categories that matter to job seekers—including employers who rank the highest in specific industries, locations, cultural values, professions, and more. These awards are open to all companies with an employer profile on Indeed and require no additional application or monetary commitment.

Our recent redesign means that it is easier than ever to leverage our 72M ratings and reviews to get detailed and specific insights on their culture and performance. There are now two tabs: “Snapshot,” which provides jobseekers with an at-a-glance view of what people are saying about the company, and “Why Join Us,” which is a landing page that employers completely control and can customize with videos, text, photos, social feeds, and company updates.

The update also includes a new subscription, Company Pages Premium (currently available in the US only), which gives employers the ability to feature relevant branded content and jobs to candidates based on their Indeed job searches as well as enhanced analytics providing insights on how your brand is performing on key metrics – how do you compare with competitors on salary? work life balance? You can filter and sort ratings and reviews by location and department.

Employers who choose to subscribe gain access to enhanced page viewer analytics that allow them to better understand and reach the right job seekers with relevant branded content, including featured jobs and reviews, competitive page insights and the ability to feature and respond to reviews.

It’s never been easier, or more important, to build your employer brand. So why wait?

Paul Wolfe is SVP of Human Resources at Indeed.

Methodology: Indeed partnered with Censuswide to survey 500+ US workers in April 2018 (04.20.18 – 04.25.18). All respondents were over the age of 16. Censuswide abides by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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