How to research a prospective employer: Step 5 – investigate the employment brand

Anthony Haynes writes: Whether you are preparing to apply for a job or simply deciding whether to do so, our experiences of working with candidates suggest that it’s worth investing time in doing your homework. In particular, it’s worth researching the employer so as to develop a 360 degree picture of them. Each day this week we are publishing a practical tip for doing so.

Step 5: investigate the employer’s reputation qua employer


Organisations have more than one brand. The one that gets talked about most is their consumer brand — roughly, the image and reputation amongst consumers of the organisation’s products and services. But organisations also have an employer brand, resting on the organisation’s reputation — primarily amongst current, past, and prospective employees — specifically as an employer.

The employment brand rests on such questions as: how do they treat their staff? how well remunerated are their staff? what is the rate of staff turnover like? and what is the ethos or culture of the organisation?

It’s difficult to acquire objective data on these matters. The data that is ready to hand consists merely or people’s perceptions — what people say or think about an organisation, regardless of accuracy. Yet even when inaccurate — or partial or unreliable — such information has a value.

First, this is a matter of comparison between organisations: former employees may give distorted views (someone who has been fired, for example, is unlikely to say, ‘Actually, I was hopeless at the job’), but are those from one organisation any more likely to be distorted than those from another?

Secondly, the sources can’t be wrong — precisely because it’s reputation that we’re focusing on. Several former employees may report gripes that may perhaps be ill-founded: nevertheless, the gripes helped to form (indeed, themselves form part of_ the reputation and hence the brand. That tells you at least how having that employer on your CV might look.

But enough of the philosophy. There are two main sources of information:

1. word of mouth, through networks;

2. websites.

The websites that I hear mentioned most in this regard are:

If anyone would like to recommend others, I’d be interested to hear.


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