Each year we see new websites emerge with a constant reminder that our employer brands are not solely our own, and are in the hands of our employees. But we’ve covered the obvious aspects of review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, FairyGodBoss, and InHerSight – in digging into what most likely causes the most anxiety for your HR (and broader organization): the negative review. Check out my article last month where I took a Deep Dive into Negative Reviews.

But, let’s say your organization receives more positive than negative reviews. For most organizations, this is the case. You might even argue that if you have someone who is managing an employer brand – that the correlation of having a stronger brand is relatively high. Why? Because that organization has decided to invest in that aspect of your business, which means they are investing, in turn, in their employee’s engagement and happiness.

But what do you do with positive reviews? They are nice to have, they feel excellent, and sometimes they touch on incredibly intuitive pieces of your employer brand that (hopefully) you were trying to pull out of your employees. And, the best possible instance happened – an employee talked about it in a way that another candidate might believe it!

I think that positive reviews are often overlooked. But honestly, they are an opportunity that is often overlooked or ignored. We all just love those emails that are sent from some executive in the organization around our negative reviews (don’t you?), but what if we gave our positive reviews the same weight? Or at least, let them see some additional opportunity that would enable an employer brand strategy?


Informing your Editorial Calendar

Each week, my team evaluates positive and negative reviews. In those reviews, we assess topics that are mentioned by our employees. Topics vary by organization, but the primary topic buckets that I have seen are the following: innovation, leadership, management, team, work environment, culture, pace, politics, ethics/values, products, work/life balance, process, mission, benefits, compensation, career growth, stability/turnover, and inclusion and diversity.

But your organization should build its own categories. And that depends on a few elements:

  • What are the primary areas we are looking to measure? Are there categories that we want to get more specific around? Instead of culture, are we seeking a more specific value or pillar statement that we are hoping to identify?
  • Are there known challenges or positives about your organization that are unique to you?
  • Is there an emerging topic that doesn’t fit well within the categories listed above?


The idea behind these categories (both positive and negative) is to capture what it means to work at your organization and to use those positives to enable and inspire your editorial calendar.

Let’s admit it – all of us get a bit “in the grind” of our organization. What I mean by that is that we tend to take for granted what might be a conversion moment for those candidates we are so desperate to hire. Those snacks on your 7thfloor? A content moment. That team meeting where you get an opportunity to lead, present, or innovate? A content moment. A happy hour that brings coworkers together as friends? A content moment.

The reality is that we are literally surrounded by hundreds of content moments. But we are so used to working where we work that we forget to realize that they are, in fact, content moments.

Reviews help us to remember those obvious to candidates, but not so obvious to us, candidate moments. Don’t overlook those positive reviews – but when you look at them, instead, think of how you might leverage them to create content.

I’m not speaking to just copying and pasting reviews into your Facebook draft status – but I am saying use them to prompt thinking around new topics to explore.


Make Sure You Are Strategic.

So, your company is generating organic positive reviews. That’s incredible! Don’t let that ball stop. Leverage that activity to a productive result. Each website has a threshold that they require before your reviews are presented in a specific capacity. Almost every review site has a threshold that is needed before you can be “listed” as a key player within a specific category.

Let’s take Glassdoor, for instance. Glassdoor is one of the most popular review sites in the industry, and I’m guessing a bulk of the reviews that you are receiving are within this website.

To be recognized as the best place to work as a large organization, according to Glassdoor, you need “at least 75 ratings across each of the eight workplace attributes from U.S.-based employees; At least 1,000 employees at the end of the eligibility timeframe.” For a medium-sized organization, you need “at least 25 ratings across each of the eight workplace attributes from U.S.-based employees; Less than 1,000 employees at the end of the eligibility timeframe.” And while I realize that winning awards from websites might not be your top priority, if your organization is generating positive reviews organically, you should be aware of each review site’s award infrastructure as a means to take advantage of the awards that could be coming your way.

But what about an easier opportunity? Maybe an organization with fewer reviews than Glassdoor, but a smaller, more specific audience? FairyGodBoss is an organization that is dedicated to sharing what it’s like to work at organizations around the world for women. It means there are different categories of importance, different ranking systems, and different commentary, all meant to guide women’s career decisions.

To be included in FairyGodBoss’ “Best Places to Work” list, the process is a little simpler. It’s based simply off of your review ranking when you have more than 30 reviews. The benefit to this is that most organizations are still building within this platform, so there is a very real opportunity to provide women around the world insight into your organization while building your reputation because of honest reviews being published. Right now, there are 30 organizations listed on the website as the top places to work – and the lowest ranking? 68.4. This score is out of one hundred. ONE HUNDRED. That means the 30thbest place to work on FairyGodBoss is at a D. A D! Do you think your organization is better than a D? Then it’s time to start evaluating your presence on this website.

Moving to another website, Comparably. This site has one of the more robust ranking systems that takes 18 different categories into consideration when building a brand within the site. That means there are a lot of data points that are pulled into the platform when building recommendations. To be considered, “Companies with 500+ employees need at least 50 employees to qualify and companies with less than 500 employees need at least 15 employees to qualify. However, the more employee participants the better since additional weight is given to scores at companies with more participation from their employee base.” Seems pretty simple.


Asking for Reviews.

I know. Reviews on the sites above aren’t being generated organically. At best, Indeed and Glassdoor are garnering a lot of reviews – but you aren’t able to capitalize on that. At worst, you’re getting one review a week and it would take a year to get to the threshold, much less the right ranking. What does that leave you with? (Aside from opportunity). A big fat nothing.

Yes, you’re going to have to ask for reviews.

How do you ask for reviews? How do you ask for good reviews? How do you ask for authentic reviews? How do you avoid looking like you’re begging? Here’s a few tips:

Start small. Ask groups of individuals – your employee resource groups, your recently hired employees (past their 90-day mark), your colleagues, and recent promotions or award winners. Let these individuals know why you are asking them to write a review.

Be realistic. After analyzing thousands upon thousands…upon thousands…of reviews, I can tell you that I was usually able to find the reviews that were generated in less than ideal ways. Often times, it would come out in the review, “My company made me say this” Or “I had to write a review”. Neither of those are flattering to your employees, or your candidates. It’s not to say that you can’t ask for reviews. But when you have decided to generate reviews, you have to acknowledge that you are going to get some reviews you don’t like. If you’re not okay with that, don’t ask for reviews.

Ask for reviews, the right way. When you are asking for reviews, be honest about the prompt that is urging you to reach out for the ask. I usually start with information about the candidate experience – telling our employees that we know our candidates are seeking inside information about our organization, and they are looking to our employees to tell them. I follow it up with a request for an authentic review about their experience at our organization, telling them that we want their honest experience (frankly, because no one believes 5-star reviews). But above all, I spend time validating their experience as an employee and building confidence in their voice. Their voice matters – and it’s one that our candidates sorely need.

As always, reviews are a complicated system. But ignoring both the positive and negative opportunities that arise from them is a giant missed opportunity that your organization should be hesitant to miss.

After many years organizing communication efforts for local, federal, and international campaigns, Lindsey gave up her constituents for candidates upon entering the recruitment marketing world. For seven years, she worked at Symphony Talent, assisting Fortune 100 companies with their recruitment marketing content marketing strategy, attracting talent to organizations by encouraging the right fit for both the company and the candidate. She now manages a Global Employer Brand Program for Palo Alto Networks, innovating new ways to reach out to candidates, leveraging regional stories, an improved candidate experience, and pushing the boundaries of how we think about the recruitment and candidate process. 

In her allusive “free time” she can be found picking up new hobbies like Girl Scouts leadership, reading all the books, speaking for her cat, and asking her kids for the 100th time to pick up their toys. Follow her on Twitter @LindseySanford

For more recruiting and interview insights, join us in San Francisco this January 30 - February 1, 2019, at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices.