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April 11, 2018

Is Your Employer Brand Bull? Here’s how to build trust with job candidates

build trust with job candidates

Employer brand full of crap? These fluff-free tips will get it back on track.

Candidates want to be seen as people, not just credentials on a resume.

In-demand applicants get their share of juicy offers. They’ve read the ins and outs of comparative roles and responsibilities on all the top job boards. And you better believe they’ve checked out your ‘About’ page, mission statement, social media channels and every Glassdoor review in between.

Let me tell you, they can smell BS from a mile away.

At Breezy, we’re all about a BS-free recruitment process. That’s why we were downright giddy when we came across Amy Bastuga’s presentation for DisruptHR. Amy’s the SVP of HR for the red wagon company Radio Flyer where she uses her 3 “BS” strategies to eliminate bullshit within the organization. It’s pure HR genius. 🤩

In fact, we were so smitten with Amy’s no-BS approach, we wanted to see how these principles could be used to help recruiters and HR leaders cut the bull from the employer brand and build better relationships with candidates.

#1 — Blind Spots

The biggest blind spot in most employer brands is at the tippy top of the hierarchy.

If your CEO’s not walking the talk, your top candidates WILL sniff that out. Today’s talent can afford to be selective. Many of your best candidates have been through the ringer before and are taking a “fool me twice” approach to choosing their next opportunity.

But as Amy points out, 95% of leaders in a company only receive feedback in two very specific ways: from peers or subordinates. Because of this limited interaction, the people at the top rarely have anyone around who’s brave enough to engage in some real talk about their behavior.

For better or worse, your top dogs are the default drivers of your employer brand and getting them in the recruitment game is one of the core fundamental steps to an acquisition strategy that really works. Help your head honchos create a trustworthy employer brand by simply being honest about any part of the recruitment and hiring process that needs to be improved.

Remember, your job as recruiter and Chief Candidate Advocate is to eliminate all existing bullshit — both your own and that of all hiring stakeholders.

Use “feedforward” to address the blind spots in your employer brand

To gently and lovingly point out the blind spots in your employer brand (without putting your own job at risk), try Amy’s suggestion to use “feedforward”. Feedforward is exactly what you think it is, a conversation that focuses on suggestions for the future, rather than criticizing what’s already been done.

Rockstar leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith says feedforward works way better than feedback:

“Unlike feedback, which has multiple detrimental consequences, feedforward creates positive emotions, fosters bonding, builds psychological safety, and promotes the elicitation and sharing of vital new information regarding keys for personal and organizational flourishing.”

There’s no need to wait for permission. Treat feedforward as a gift you can give to help another person grow in new and awesome ways. After all, that’s something we all want. Just make sure your feedforward is clear and helpful.

#2 — Break Silence

It’s time to start conversations about things that matter, instead of sweeping them under the rug.

These days, you just can’t compete without an online presence. Thing is, social media can either make or break your employer brand. That’s one of the reasons it’s crucial to create amazing experiences for your applicants.

One negative comment on your Facebook page or Glassdoor profile can lose you countless potential hires. And no matter how eye-catching your career page is, it won’t save your brand from a negative comment that rings with truth. Owners can flag reviews, but if Glassdoor doesn’t see any violations in their terms, they will leave even the most embarrassing comments for all to see.

So if you left a bad taste in someone’s mouth and have no way of undoing it, there’s only one thing left to do: OWN UP TO IT.

Be fearlessly transparent in your hiring process

Don’t ignore the negative marks on your employer brand. Instead of deleting negative comments, respond immediately and address specific concerns. And most importantly, learn to listen to your past, current and future employees’ feedback on what areas you need to improve.

If you can acknowledge both negative and positive comments, take them seriously and still respond professionally — your employer brand will definitely win the hearts of many a job seeker. It takes a certain level of class to own up to a mistake and the right kind of talent will appreciate that.

Build trust in your next interview by opening up your own career path and professional experiences. Head of Corporate Recruiting at Consilium Staffing, Cynthia Labarge calls this a “recruiter credibility statement”. Sharing your personal and professional journey will encourage people to let down their hair and get to know more about you and your company culture.

Reassure candidates that they will be free to talk about any problems they encounter if they get hired. After the #MeToo movement, people are now more cautious about their actions and more willing to speak up about any form of abuse. Rather than acting like you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t read the news or watch the Academy Awards, boldly state your organization’s position on these important cultural shifts.

#3 — Boring Solutions

According to Amy’s third and final BS-rule, solutions don’t always have to be bold or exciting. They just have to be effective.

Get clear on what matters most to your hiring team. Make sure they have the tools they need to work unsupervised and take immediate action to move a promising candidate through the hiring pipeline.

If Byzantine processes are keeping you from quickly and transparently engaging a candidate, you’re putting yourself at a much greater risk of losing them to the competition. Remember, it’s not your fancy website or the smiling faces of stock photos that will attract the right talent — it’s the effort you put into building a real relationship throughout the recruitment process.

Keep your hiring process simple and effective


If you have to keep candidates on ice for weeks because stakeholder X is on a windsurfing holiday in Bermuda and you just can’t nail them down for that 6th interview, you’re toast. Your candidate will be out the door the minute someone else knocks on it.

Use a recruitment management tool that makes it easy to keep the ball rolling.

And remember, for job seekers bad news is better than no news. One of the biggest complaints of applicants is that no one gets back to them after an interview. You can earn serious integrity points for your employer brand by sending simple automated ‘thank you’ and ‘update’ emails to your candidates. (Or you can drop people like hot potatoes once you’ve found “the one” and let the negative reviews from candidates roll in.)

If you’re willing to spend money to attract the right talent, you’ve got to be willing to make the most of your investment by using a BS-free recruitment management process that supports your employer brand at every step of the hiring process.

Your candidates depend on it.