A new study released by the American Psychological Association this fall shows that job applicants are more attracted to organizations when their websites include employee testimonials. The study appears to suggest that employee testimonials may be an important method of attracting top talent (Walker, Field, Giles, Armenakis & Bernerth, 2009). Other research also seems to support the use of employee testimonials. For instance, it has been found that others’ experiences in organizations influence job seekers due to their interpersonal nature (Van Hoye & Lievens, 2007) and that job incumbents are perceived as credible sources of information, as they are closer to the work situation (Fisher, Ilgen, & Hoyer, 1979). In fact, more general forms of recruitment advertisements have been found to be perceived as less favorable, attractive, and credible.
In addition, the study also revealed that the type of media used to display employee testimonials also influences applicant reactions. In the study, employee testimonials delivered via audio or video were perceived as more attractive and credible than those delivered via picture or text (Walker, et al., 2009). The results suggest that richer media (audio, video, and multimedia) may be worthwhile when using employee testimonials to attract applicants into the organization. Richer media tends to be more interesting and engaging to job applicants because it has the ability to better communicate affect and provides more information through tone, facial expression, and other nonverbal cues (Walker, et al., 2009).
Ideally, employee testimonials can serve as one way that organizations can convey the culture and types of individuals within their organization. One of the most common problems organizations face in their recruitment efforts is finding individuals that fit within their organization, yet job seekers readily use testimonial information to see how they fit with the culture and coworkers in an organization (Cober, Brown, Blumental, Doverspike, & Levy, 2004). In doing so, organizations may find that using testimonials diminishes extra and possibly more expensive efforts, to assess cultural fit.
So whether your organization is swarmed with resumes of all sorts of job seekers or preparing to boost recruitment efforts in the coming months, it’s clear that employee testimonials may be a worthwhile part of any organization’s recruitment efforts as they positively affect job applicant reactions and are also relatively inexpensive to employ at the most basic level. Here are a few tips to help your organization get started:
- Pick employees that are representative of the organizational culture, are exceptional communicators, and have honest and positive things to say about the organization. Possible aspects of the workplace they could discuss or testify to include:
- “Day in the life” summary of job duties
- Reasons they chose to work at the organization
- How they would describe the work environment or culture
- On-the-job challenges and development opportunities
- Performance and/or job expectations
- Perks and benefits
- At the very least, use text testimonials. If you can, however, invest in some relatively inexpensive technology to help deliver testimonials via audio or video. Keep in mind that this technology can be used for many other purposes – on-boarding, training, communication, and other employee activities.
- Evaluate how they are working…are the testimonials contributing to fewer applicants that are not the right fit? Are they helping to yield applicants that fit with the culture?
Walker, H. J., Feild, H. S., Giles, W. F., Armenakis, A. A., and Bernerth, J. B. (2009). Displaying employee testimonials on recruitment web sites: effects of communication media, employee race, and job seeker race on organizational attraction and information credibility. The Journal of Applied Psychology. 94, 1354–1364.
Cober, R. T., Brown, D. J., Keeping, L. M., & Levy, P. E. (2004). Recruitment on the net: How do organizational Web site characteristics influence applicant attraction? Journal of Management, 30, 623–646.
Fisher, C. D., Ilgen, D. R., & Hoyer, W. D. (1979). Source credibility, information favorability, and job offer acceptance. Academy of Management Journal, 22, 94–103.
Van Hoye, G., & Lievens, F. (2007). Investigating Web-based recruitment sources: Employee testimonials vs. word-of-mouse. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 15, 372–382.