4 Recruiting Tips For Companies With Bad Reputations

April 20, 2015

As part of my new, “Purple Squirrel Hunting” series here on Talent Blog, I’ve been working one-on-one with recruiters who are having trouble sourcing tough-to-find candidates. Back in my recruiting days, we called them, “Bilingual Brain Surgeons for $10/hour.” Today, we call them ‘purple squirrels’ - which is easier to say and makes the point just as well.

It’s hard enough to track down purple squirrels. Today’s sophisticated job seeker expects (actually, demands) you be a cool place to work. [This article can help you assess if you meet their requirements.] The last thing you need is another hurdle to finding them - like, when they purposely hide from you because your reputation as an employer stinks. Which leads to the question:

What do I do when my company’s reputation makes talent hide from me?

This was a recent discussion with one recruiter I’m working with. She represents a company that has a terrible set of reviews on Glassdoor (especially, about the CEO, management team and low pay practices), and zero talent brand stories online to showcase what it’s like to work there.

The only thing they offer potential candidates in the way of talent brand materials is an over-produced video that screams, “We are trying to make you think we are a great place to get a job.” Studies show this doesn’t work. Particularly, with Millennials, who now make up over half our talent pool. [See why that expensive video can be an epic fail in this article.]

As a result, the recruiter has exhausted all of her ‘traditional’ recruiting tactics, like posting the positions on niche boards and proactively reaching out to candidates on LinkedIn. She even admitted to trying to find candidates in other industries who might not know about the employer’s reputation. Even still, she has come up empty.

Sadly, to date, she has only been able to get one candidate to respond to her. Ironically, he had accepted a job with her company a few months back before she had started recruiting for this employer. But, in the days leading up to him starting, he got offered a job making $30K more with a competitor. He felt he should at least tell her to pass along to the employer that he couldn’t walk away from such good money.

In my opinion, he clearly used the one offer to get the other. And sadly, this will happen to this company again if they don’t change things. The recruiter will continue to be ignored by the best talent, and only get contacted when one is looking to leverage an offer from her to sweeten the offer from a competitor. Why is this happening?

The company’s negative talent brand is making those purple squirrels hide as fast as they can - except when they can use the employer to grab a bigger nut!

Good news. There’s a solution…

The best defense is a good offense.

To get talent to consider the recruiter’s open positions, she’ll need to balance the negativity out by offering up something to make candidates have doubts about what’s being published online. There are several key places she will need to do this:

1. Tailor her LinkedIn profile to show she is a recruiter that specializes in recruiting their type of talent.

Talent vets you as much as you vet them. They always check out recruiters’ profiles on LinkedIn to see just how influential they are in their industry.  If you position yourself as a generalist, the talent will see you truly aren’t versed in recruiting their skill sets and will discount your connection request.

2. Create and post ‘job stories’ that seduce the candidate into wanting to learn more.

Job postings are historically boring lists of requirements that put candidates to sleep. Creating interesting job stories that help talent visualize the role and bring the environment to life generates a level of attraction that will encourage them to at least talk to the recruiter before dismissing the company entirely.

3. Address the negative comments directly.

Companies can post responses to negative reviews on Glassdoor. Monitoring their presence online and addressing those issues is a must-do. Ignoring it sends the wrong message that you either A) don’t care, B) can’t defend yourself, or C) aren’t savvy enough to know you should be responding.

4. Create and feature stories that accurately explain who is most satisfied working at the company.

Often, negative reviews are from employees who didn’t fit the culture. The more the company can publicly display what it takes to succeed at the company, (and not apologize for it!), the better. This can be done on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even sites that specialize in showcasing company stories, like CAREEREALISM.com. Promoting stories about what it’s like to work there and how current employees are succeeding offer real proof the negativity isn’t all true. [This free e-book can help you understand how to get started.]

Don’t want to make the effort? Expect the hunt for purple squirrels to get harder (and, more expensive!)

Time-to-fill rates are climbing and companies are getting aggressive in the war for talent. If you don’t bother to fight back against a bad company reputation, the hunt for top talent will be harder, take longer, and cost more. A proactive strategy to improve your image as a recruiter and your company’s talent brand is the only solution. Both need to earn the respect of candidates if you want to catch the purple squirrels you need to succeed.

PS - Want to work with J.T. O’Donnell on your purple squirrel hunt? Submit your story here. If selected, she’ll work with you for FREE to help you customize your search and attract the top talent your company desires.

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* image by Funk Dooby

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