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Is anybody watching me online?

When recruiting staff, have you ever checked out your shortlisted candidates online – just a quick look at their LinkedIn profile, check their skills and experience, then pop over to Facebook for the pictures of their stag/hen do, and Instagram to see what they had for dinner last Wednesday? Well, a recent survey suggests the shoe is now on the other foot, with 70% of job hunters checking out potential employers online.

Our survey says …

The survey, produced by the jobs website Indeed, talked to UK workers about their job hunting experiences. The headline result is that 57% said they would “automatically distrust” a business with no online identity. The issue is prevalent among graduates and millennials, with the figure rising to 84% for those aged 25-34.

In other words, if you’re not digital, more than half of job hunters will make negative assumptions about you as a business and an employer.

It’s all about trust

In a sense, it’s only fair. When HR and hiring managers are picking their way through a candidate’s social media history, let’s face it, they’re looking for something bad, or embarrassing, or even criminal. Almost certainly, they’re hoping not to find it (hurrah! They’re not a crook, and they know how to be discreet – let’s give them a job!) but that is what they’re looking for.

And your prospective employees are looking for the same. The basic question is, is there any reason I shouldn’t work for these people?

Indeed’s research shows, that for almost 90% of respondents, the employer’s brand name was a factor. This may be especially relevant in a post-Brexit UK with recent encouragement from the CIPD to focus on how recruits view your employer brand and value proposition.

What to do? Get online!

Apart from that obvious advice, what else?

  • Website – A company website is your ‘shop window’ on the Internet, a chance to display not only your wares (or services) but also show what kind of company you are (or aspire to be).
  • Social Media – LinkedIn is the obvious business option but depending on your target market, significant customer communities can be built on the ‘big 3’: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These platforms are also opportunities for you to interact with potential recruits prior to and outside of the formal hiring process.
  • Reviews – Retailers worry about Amazon or eBay reviews, hotels and restaurants fret about TripAdvisor, and employers keep an eye on Glassdoor. The point is, it’s easy for your current and ex-employees to share their opinion of you. Whether that opinion is good or bad is one side of the coin, the other is what you do with the feedback (especially when it’s bad). In the survey, a poor online reputation was only a problem for around a third of respondents (hey, at least you’re online, right!?) and of those, 70% were willing to change their opinion for the better if an employer responds to negative reviews; i.e. is prepared to engage with feedback.

Probably, job candidates have always wanted openness and transparency from their prospective employer. Now, thanks to the Internet, they can have it.

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