Keeping your trustworthiness high as jobseeker trust declines

From corporate websites to social media, our research has shown that the level of trust jobseekers place on company-owned communication channels has decreased in just one year. As such, companies need to stay sharp and maintain transparency if they want to keep their trustworthiness. This is particularly important when it comes to their websites, for reasons that we will explore in this article. What are the things that make jobseekers tick and what makes them distrust the information a company presents?

People are getting better at recognising false information

Being able to differentiate between false and real information is a skill that most of us are practicing on a daily basis, and the rise of fake news is only serving to make us more suspicious. This year, we asked respondents to our Career Survey whether corporate websites are trustworthy.

The answer? Well, yes - and no. While the corporate website continues to be rated as the most trustworthy channel a company can own, the score across all channels, including websites, has been decreasing. This poses a delicate problem for companies, as trust can be quite abstract to measure. Fortunately this year's crop of active and passive jobseekers offered plenty of insights into the information they value, particularly on corporate websites, and how companies can provide it in a trustworthy manner.

62 percent

...of our respondents agreed with the statement that corporate websites were trustworthy, 4% less compared to last year's results. 

So, why are corporate websites the preferred source of information?

Why do people prefer going to a company's website over other platforms whenever they’re on the lookout for a job? A majority of our respondents claim that it is the most accessible and direct source of information, and one person specifically focused on the possibility of getting more in-depth information:

"On the company’s website, I can look for more interesting information like cases and insights." 
- Graduate program participant who is happy with their current job, Sweden

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there are no reasons why a jobseeker might opt for a different source of information, as many will assess multiple sources when building a picture of what a company is like. Therefore, it is important that the information they find through other company-owned channels, such as social media, correlates with the information you present on your website. Otherwise, you will immediately sound less trustworthy. Our Careers Survey respondents mentioned the benefits of other channels both in terms of cross-referencing certain information, as well as supplying more details about the employee experience:

"To double-check certain statements/information" 
- Student who is keeping an eye out for exciting opportunities, Sweden
"To gather more information on the company, on the work environment and the salary."
- Employee who is actively looking for a new job, Portugal

Striking a balance: objectivity over exaggeration 

For companies to remain reliable, trusted sources of information, it is important that they present themselves in a balanced manner. Some comments from those who did not think that corporate websites were trustworthy enough focused on the tendency to only show the business in a positive light:

"Companies may over-hype what they do and how good they are to work for."
- Self-employed worker keeping an eye out for exciting opportunities, United Kingdom

It appears that, as part of their concern over trustworthiness, jobseekers are worried about companies exaggerating how good it is to work for them. Another concern commonly expressed throughout our Careers Survey was at the lack of any information from sources other than the company itself. This perceived lack of objectivity can risk putting jobseekers off applying, and therefore marketing jargon and filler should instead defer to more quantifiable information on the company.

How to keep the trustworthiness up 

For jobseekers, the wariness that companies will over-exaggerate - both in terms of the employee experience and the business as a whole - can drive a lack of trust in the information they present. Some additional perspectives, free from possible company bias, could potentially help to alleviate this mistrust. 

Why not showcase real world examples and tangible data? When asking our respondents about the importance of transparency information, the key aspects they expect to find on website were a company's policy and approach to diversity and equal opportunities, as well as information on employee satisfaction surveys.

How important is it for a potential employer’s website to include the following ratings and transparency information about the workplace and employer?

(1 = Not important at all, 5 = Very important)

A diagram presenting importance of transparency information as diversity, reviews from external sites, results of employee satisfaction surveys, description of steps taken to act on findings from employee satisfaction surveys and the company policy on diversity and equal opportunities

It might not be the natural inclination for any company to include information that reflects badly on them, but it is not shameful to include results from employee satisfaction surveys that are "only" fairly good and not perfect. You can also use the less-than-perfect results to show how different issues have been addressed or your plans for future developments.

In this article's opening quote, the respondent mentioned a preference for corporate websites because othe range of interesting insights available. It's clear that for active and passive jobseekers, information on a company both in terms of the business and the employee experience is a valuable currency that should be provided in an abundant and transparent supply. An absence of consistent, quantifiable information will lead to lower trust.

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