Improve Your Employer Brand by Facing Candidate Criticism Head-On

When it comes to employer brand issues, candidates aren’t exactly forgiving. Never mind that your recruiting team is a skeleton crew, or that you don’t have the resources to upgrade to the latest and greatest in recruiting technology, or that you’re dealing with a major turnover crisis. Candidates expect far more from potential employers than ever before, and with the explosion of social media channels over the last five years, they have more soapboxes than ever before to vent frustrations.

Yet many companies are clueless when it comes to building and managing their employer brand. Though the signs are clear that something is wrong – they struggle to attract talent, candidates disappear after their first interview, new hires quit after only a couple of weeks — they’re at a loss for how to fix the problem.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for employer branding woes, there are a few basic do’s and don’ts. I’ll be doing some deeper research into recruitment marketing best practices in the future, but this list is a good place to start: 

Do Recruit Brand Ambassadors

Every office has those select employees who can’t get enough of the company “Kool-Aid.” They regularly refer candidates, they engage new hires, and are overall stellar employees. Put their positive energy to work, and encourage them to share their experience on sites like Glassdoor. Not only can this improve employer profile ratings, it also gives prospective employees the inside scoop on what makes your company so great.

Don’t Pressure People

A mass email “encouraging” all employees to submit positive reviews is a big no-no. Regardless of intent, these requests put pressure on employees to say things that may not be completely accurate or true. The real nightmare occurs when leadership takes issue with less-than-stellar reviews. You asked for feedback, and you got it. If it’s not what you were expecting, don’t hit the panic button. Witch hunts are bad for morale.

Do Take Feedback with Grace

Even the best brands can’t please everyone. Look at any New York Times best sellers on, and you’ll see a number of 2- and 1-star ratings. For employers, the ability to process positive and negative feedback plays a huge part in building a sustainable brand. Positive feedback helps you reinforce your strengths, and even the most heated negative feedback contains nuggets of truth. The challenge is in finding it.

Don’t Blame Others

If you’re having issues with your employer brand, the worst thing you can do is to blame it on others. “That candidate’s expectations were unrealistic.” …  “That review was written by an employee with a grudge.” These things happen, and it can be frustrating, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to find a solution (hint: another mass email asking whomever submitted less-than-stellar reviews to remove them is only making matters worse).

If your candidates are feeling left in the dark, evaluate your existing feedback loop, and look for areas you can improve. If a scathing review is tarnishing your reputation, you may need to call in an experienced damage control professional. Whatever you do, don’t dismiss feedback just because you don’t agree with it.

In the End, Consistency is Key

Perhaps the best way to build and manage a healthy employer brand is to keep things consistent. If your career page and job descriptions are full of phrases like “high energy” and “fast-paced,” candidates are going to be sorely disappointed when they walk into an office of closed doors and hushed voices. If you promise “room for growth” with an “exciting company,” be prepared to answer candidate questions about specific growth opportunities.

Candidates don’t like to feel misled – and there’s a fine line between creating an attractive brand and making promises you can’t keep. If you start things off right, it’s going to be easier to manage expectations through each stage of talent acquisition. There will always be bumps in the road, but a strong employer brand holds up to scrutiny.

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Kyle Lagunas



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Kyle Lagunas