Onboarding and employer branding reality check: How applicants recognize bad employers

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Most of the time, you only notice after you've started your job that something is wrong in the company: incapable, moody Chef, anxious employees, overall bad mood. But how can you recognize something like this beforehand?

Onboarding and employer branding reality check: How applicants recognize bad employers

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Here writes for you:

Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


New job: from a fairytale castle to a wooden shack

Some people get their first day at work like a cold shower. What is still like a pink and gold future fairytale castle in the interview is suddenly a miserable shack. This often applies particularly to startups, which often still have to find themselves.

And the employee notices: it depends Company Instead of dazzling future prospects, the red numbers and the great new job are anything but crisis-proof. Or you act as a new, cheaper emergency nail, because a few employees have been blown out beforehand. Most of the time you can't actually know that beforehand. Or maybe yes?

Employer branding reality check: What companies reveal about themselves on their websites

The good news is that you can sometimes recognize bad employers in advance - by the way they present themselves, for example on the website. Because mostly companies reveal more about themselves than they would like in what they say. Hence some examples of statements on the website and what is really behind it.

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  • "We are a young, innovative company that offers them excellent development opportunities" - in plain language: We have no plan and expect you to know what we want and to implement it - and that means that you have above-average commitment lay the day and malochen until you drop.
  • "We do not take everyone" - in plain language means: We would like to be able to choose our employees, but we have to take everyone for the conditions (payment etc.) that we offer. We don't actually have time to choose because of the sheer revision.
  • "We invest more time in our employees than in corporate strategy" - in plain language: Our boss prefers to chat rather than think about where he wants to lead the company. He leaves that to his employees to think about ”
  • "We are expanding and training now - but at a lower rate" - in plain language means: We are actually on the descending branch. Since we had to throw out a few employees, we are now looking for the cheapest possible replacement.

PS: Of course, the examples presented here are fictitious, similarities with actually existing companies and people are purely coincidental. And of course the examples are ironically exaggerated and should not be taken very seriously.

Startups: high discrepancy between promise and reality

This discrepancy between promises and reality is particularly striking in start-ups: various salary lists here made me ponder over the earning opportunities in a start-up company.

Some time ago, in his blog Gruenderraum, Sebastian Matthes asked what employees in start-up companies earn. And received answers - which are of course not representative, but still interesting: On average, there are managing directors 3.700 euros - as much as permanent doctors, biologists or software engineers; their salary is only slightly higher than that of carpenters, PR consultants and cartographers.

  • Designer 2.500
  • Programmers 2.700 euros - about as much as insurance agents and chemical / technical assistants.
  • Marketing people 2.100 euros - less than marketing assistants in larger companies.
  • Interns just under 500 euros - it looks particularly poor here.

Why should you work in such a company?

It takes a lot of idealism to work in a startup company, since salaries here are really not tempting. Or the lack of other perspectives. But maybe the prospect of more will lure you when things go better? Is it worth working in a start-up? And why do you actually want to work in a start-up? In my opinion, there are only two reasons to work in a startup:

  1. Idealism, because you think you can build something up and bring in your own ideas.
  2. Lack of other (better) alternatives.

Regarding point 1 it should be said: The hope that we can still help shape a young company is often clouded considerably by the boss. Because of the lack of experience, he is often uncertain - and is happy to pass this uncertainty on to his employees. That means, for example, that he controls a lot more than a confident, experienced boss - and the dream of freedom has burst. If you are interested in something like this, you should start your own company.

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Because working in a start-up company as an employee (not as a boss, that's something different) has several disadvantages: The comparatively lower salaries come with the uncertain perspective, because you don't know whether the company continues to exist, or just the quirks of the still inexperienced boss. All idealism does not help.

Why do companies lie to applicants?

With all the disadvantages, the question arises: Why do companies lie to applicants at all? The simple answer: In the competition for the best specialists and talents, employers need a high degree of attractiveness. "In view of the current shortage of IT specialists, companies must actively work on their employer branding in 2020, i.e. on the way they are perceived as an employer in the labor market," says Lucia Falkenberg, CPO (Chief People Officer) in the eco - Association of the Internet Industry e. V. and head of the eco competence group New Work.

7 tips for companies on how to do it better

For the beginning of the year, she lists 7 tips for companies on how to do better with employer branding.

1. Let your employees have their say

The best ambassadors for your own employer brand are the employees. Their recommendations in the Freundeskreis are authentic and therefore the best advertisement for a company. Recognition for finding a new colleague also makes you want to recommend the employer. A tip: It is often the little things that the employees talk about: daycare grants, the weekly fruit basket, the company discount in the gym and the job ticket for public transport, for example.

2. Offer further training

Offer opportunities to develop individually and personally. Then you are particularly attractive for innovative, creative colleagues who want more than just service according to regulations. In addition, the whole company is getting better and better and is not losing touch with customers' needs.

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3. Go for diversity

Diversity wins. Diversity not only helps to position oneself in the struggle for skilled workers, but also offers an optimal breeding ground for creativity and the most diverse experiences in the form of diverse teams.

4. Live a new work work culture

Use the opportunities of digital collaboration and live a culture of flexible working hours and attendance. Provide continuous, clear and personal feedback, which ensures long working relationships with which both sides are satisfied. Create an appreciative atmosphere. This does not cost you anything, but is priceless for employees.

5. Live digital leadership

Digital leaders rely on values ​​such as trust, transparency and participation. They act as moderators and coaches of digital, locally distributed value creation networks. Give the employees the chance to actually work, i.e. to take on responsibility. In any case, superiors cannot cope with the growing dynamics and increasing complexity of the world of work alone. If you trust the skills of your colleagues, it will pay off - you will see.

6. Introduce yourself personally

Recruiting via job fairs or job advertisements is successful, but falls short when looking for particularly sought-after qualification profiles. Seek direct contact with the applicant, via social media such as XING and LinkedIn or special events. Personal contact is of course part of the successful recruiting mix today.

7. Be authentic

You can't force attractiveness. It is important for employers to be themselves. Feel free to emphasize what sets you apart from your competitors, but stay with the truth. You will only be credibly attractive as an employer if you actually meet the diverse criteria on which young talents base their professional decision.

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  1. Agnes

    if I had only found your contribution earlier, I would have been spared a lot!

  2. Suap

    Dear Mrs. Janson,

    I can only 100% confirm your opinion. I worked for an engineering service provider for a year who have exactly such sentences on your homepage and the company is a completely broken booth. Everything goes here - the psychological intimidation of talented employees, incompetent bosses, poor pay, only partially paid business travel expenses and much more. I have now quit and started my doctorate and am happy that this nightmare is over. There must be some forum where, as an employee, you can grade a company and share your experiences. And yes! All of these work booths have very nice, charming things about yourself on your homepage.

    • Simone Janson

      Hello suap, thanks for the comment. There is http://www.kununu.com/ where you can rate employers - but of course you are never immune to fakes and there are stories from employers who rate themselves here ...
      The only thing that really helps is the tact ...
      But if you have worked for an engineering service provider, you may be interested in our longstanding discussion about the job market for engineers and the initiative "We are VDI" - just have a look here:

  3. Iggi

    Why are there employer reviews on the Internet, if not for that ?!

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Iggi,
      not all employers are also rated in employer rating platforms. In addition, the information there may be too one-sided or falsified. Therefore, it always makes sense to train your own psychological sensitivity and not (only) rely on the evaluations of others.

  4. Shlomo Steinar

    Hi, nice article,
    but ever heard of spelling?

    Most of the time you only notice after you've started the job that something is wrong in the company: incapable, moody boss, anxious employees, overall Mie bad mood. Maybe the company is currently in the red and the great new job is anything but Crisis-proofcrisis-proof. Or you act as a new, cheaper emergency nail, because a few employees have been blown out beforehand.

    I can hardly imagine that you canZEIT«Comes through.

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Steinar,
      thanks for your corrections, this is very helpful, i improved it directly. Precisely because there is no staff of editors here who will proofread it afterwards, I need your help. I had also thought about writing a price for this: Who will find the most spelling mistakes. What do you make of it?

  5. Jens Sander

    Hello Mrs. Janson,

    Thank you very much for your trackback “by hand”. The reference to your article has been placed in our social news area and the track-back function does not actually offer our system.

    [As you can see bad and good employers, for us it was also the reason to create an anonymous network for employees for direct exchange and mutual help:

    Best regards,
    Jens Sander

  6. Simone Janson

    This post was kindly mentioned by Companize. Unfortunately the track baking did not work again, so I set it up manually: http://www.companize.com/nachrichten/110/Schlechte_Arbeitgeber_Wie_erkennt_man_die
    Thanks for pointing to my page!

  7. Jonas Alexander

    It just happened to me even more extreme, my bosses always pretended that the employees would receive a wage increase, but only if the employees would work in a team that was never the case, because they didn't want to get this far, they played their own employees against each other so that she never had to pay a wage increase.

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Alexander,
      thank you for your review. However, I deleted the last sentence for legal reasons: Please no insults. SJanson

  8. Simone Janson

    Hello Uncle Kapott,
    :-) I am also happy about further examples for my collection.
    Simone Janson

  9. Uncle Kapott

    Many companies use these crappy phrases. I feel bad when I have to use such phrases myself ("I am able to work in a team and have strong communication skills.").

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