Balancing Act Part 2: When Negative Client Employment Brands Complicate Things

In my last post, I discussed the importance of your own employer brand as well as that of your clients. When it comes to recruiting efforts, staffing firms must understand and promote a client’s brand, because it affects all stages of the talent acquisition process, from sourcing to interviewing to onboarding to engagement to retention. Branding is a way staffing firms can differentiate themselves and create value.

What about when a client’s brand is poorly perceived?

In Clearly Rated’s study of job candidate behavior, 69% of job candidates said online ratings and reviews had impacted whether or not to take a job offer. So it’s not an option for staffing firms to ignore any problems with a client’s brand.

“Whether it is a contract or direct hire placement, a client’s employer brand can greatly impact all parties involved,” says Samira Alimohammad, VP and general counsel of Specialist Staffing Group, the US Division of SThree plc. “A compliant and positive employment culture will attract and retain candidates and employees. From a legal perspective, it will also decrease the number of employment-related claims that may impact both the staffing firm and client.”

“If the client’s employment brand is negative, recruiting for their positions will invariably be more difficult,” says Eric Gregg, founder and CEO of ClearlyRated. “Most staffing firms are struggling to fill open positions, not to get more orders. You don’t want to be spending time trying to make placements at a company that is underpaying and under delivering. Move on and focus on job orders you can feel good promoting to your candidate pool, or help clients improve their scores and reviews.”

Recently, a customers talked with BelFlex Staffing Network COO Bob Baer about a turnover problem. BelFlex jumped in and reviewed six months’ worth of Glassdoor and Google employer reviews, and had a candid conversation with the client about the findings.

“You have to get to the root cause of negative reviews,” Baer says. “You can’t take down the posts; you have to address them. We advised and assisted our client to respond privately to the individuals posting negative reviews. We have been able to utilize the feedback to turn a negative into a positive. Brand reputation and management is a key part of our service offerings to our client.”

Dave Smith, co-founder of Triple Crown Consulting, adds, “We are not doing the clients or ourselves any favors if we withhold the negative feedback we may get from candidates. We want to share it so we can work on it together, with the end goal that we help clients secure the talent they need.”

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What Matters to the Candidate Should Matter to You

Employer brands – whether they are negative or positive – influence candidates. So which is more important to them: the brand of the staffing firm or the brand of the client? I’ve found it depends largely on you, and which you prioritize for the candidate.

Some candidates want to look past the staffing firm and focus on the company of the job assignment, which is often shorter-term. But the more you understand, engage with, and build relationships with your candidates, the better their brand loyalty will be to your firm. The most successful staffing-candidate relationships can last an entire career.

As a recruiter, you get to determine how to package and sell not only your own brand, but that of your client’s. Knowing your client’s strengths, weaknesses, and what your candidates want will inform the balance you strike.

Leslie Vickrey

Leslie Vickrey
Leslie Vickery is founder and CEO of ClearEdge Marketing. She can be reached lvickrey (at) clearedgemarketing (dot) com.

Leslie Vickrey

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