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More than two-thirds of job candidates believe that employer brand strength is important (35%) or very important (34%) when they’re evaluating a new job opportunity, according to the 2018 Reputation Management Study [pdf] from MRINetwork, conducted in partnership with Haley Marketing Group. The results indicate that employees can be a “valuable asset” in communicating brand strength.

That’s because the candidates surveyed for the report identified employee referrals (59%) as the leading way by which they evaluate employer brands, outdoing even company websites (56%).

Employees can have an impact beyond direct referrals, too. More candidates rely on Glassdoor or similar sites (38%) – where employees review companies – than media coverage (24%) when evaluating brands. Furthermore, candidates are also more apt to judge employer brands on the basis of employee testimonials (28%) than to look at the company’s career site (21%), its marketing materials (19%), or social media (19%).

The topic of employee advocacy has gained steam in recent years, having earned the attention of marketing leaders. A recent report from Sprout Social indicates that almost 7 in 10 social media marketers either already use or plan to use employees as advocates. And research from earlier this year found that people tend to trust employees more than CEOs and journalists when forming opinions about companies.

What Impacts Employer Brand Reputations?

There are several factors that can positively or negatively impact employer brand strength in the eye of the candidate, per the report.

The most-cited negative factors are poor work-life balance (63%), excessive turnover across the company (61%) and excessive management turnover (61%). Employers surveyed for the report agreed with respect to the first two of those, but few believed that management turnover would negatively impact their brands from a candidate’s perspective.

On the positive side of things, competitive compensation packages (68%) easily topped the list of important workplace factors for candidates, ahead of an emphasis on work-life balance (47%) and advancement opportunities (40%). Somewhat surprisingly, few cited a fun, engaging company culture (21%) as being important to them, despite employers (41%) again feeling that this is a bigger issue.

The full report can be viewed here [pdf].

About the Data: The report is based on a survey conducted in March and April 2018 among 400 candidates and nearly 200 employers.

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