Opinions matter. We seek advice on the best doctors, cars, restaurants and books. If it's sold anywhere, we want opinions from our networks and even strangers. It's no surprise that workplace reviews have caught on just as fast. One survey by HR software advisory firm Software Advice found that half of all job seekers consult reviews on one popular site in their searches.

And review sites range from global to local. From Glassdoor and InHerSight to Indeed and Love Mondays, savvy job seekers have numerous resources globally to gain intel. It's easy to laud or fear the reviews. If they're great, we quote and promote. If they're negative, we may respond externally and discuss internally.

In a rush to address a flurry of concern about the impact of review sites on employer brand, companies are making three major strategic missteps. 

Here's Where You Go Wrong

Amping Up Good Reviews

Some companies happen upon review sites shocked by the sheer number of negative reviews. In a rush to combat them, they encourage selected employees to post glowingly, positive reviews. This never works—from the time stamp of the new reviews posted to the exceptional positivity, candidates can read right through them. It makes it worse.

Ignoring Reviews Altogether

On the flip side, there are HR leaders who shrug off reviews with a "well, there are always going to be some unhappy people" mentality. By doing this, companies lose a huge opportunity to learn from the reviews. You don't want to sound alarm bells at every negative sentiment, but you can look for patterns and themes as a trigger to address larger issues.  If government agencies like the TSA and IRS can better their processes from reviews, so can corporate human resources

Putting All Resources into Responding

Some companies try to respond to every negative comment or review. This doesn't work either. Consumer brands have found success doing this on social media. But their agency and support resources are vast—well beyond what HR typically has. Additionally, when HR tries to do it, often the responses are cookie cutter, pre-approved responses that PR and HR leaders have edited and approved.

There's no authenticity to them. Instead you can respond to the most important or concerning ones if there's an option to do so. Another option is to post an update in a public forum (social channel or careers site) showcasing what you've learned and what you've fixed on a regular basis.

Here's Where You Can Go Right

First, make reviews a part of your employer brand strategy. You need to know they are there and review them as a data input--just like you would other inputs (engagement and satisfaction surveys, social media feedback, candidate experience feedback etc.)

Second, determine where the reviews fall in your strategy. You can work directly with the platforms, but that can be expensive. Investigate to determine how impactful that will actually be to your brand. exaqueo's research varies from company to company: but on average, most job seekers we interview and assess tell us directly that review sites aren't where they start their search, and they don't end it there either. The sites are sources of influence among many others.

Our take is that there is no single source of hire—no single tipping point for job seekers. Review sites are just another point of influence in the job/career decision-making process. How much do review sites really matter? That's where you have to do your own research to find out. Don’t just assume they matter to your hires and candidates. Look inward and ask new hires for a reliable perspective before jumping to action.


Want the extended version of this post? Visit the exaqueo blog featuring insight from our team on industry news and trends, our research, client work and lessons learned.

Craving more employer brand strategy? Come say hi to my colleague, Shannon Smedstad, at the upcoming #EBrandCon in Chicago this May! Shannon will share how to craft a killer EVP in her session on May 17 from 11:30 am-12:15 pm. Plus, she’ll be moderating an awesome panel discussion about applying lessons learned from consumer marketing to employer branding and recruitment marketing on May 17 from 4:30-5:30 pm. See the #EBrandCon conference agenda for details here. Hope to see you there!


Susan LaMotte (@SusanLaMotte) is the founder and CEO of exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting, and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.