Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Why Website Trust Signals Are Needed to Attract Top Talent

How can you make sure your employer brand is trustworthy and credible? Start by looking at your website – is it full of trust signals or trumpet-blowing?

I’ve spoken to Filip Matous who is a Digital Strategist and author of ‘How To Get Your Website Noticed‘, to find out more about the simple mistakes many businesses make digitally, and how to overcome them.

What are trust signals?

So think about whatever your site is, and think of it in four layers. And I’ll tell you how these trust signals tie into it. A good example of this is the Alec Baldwin scene in “Glengarry Glen Ross” when he’s got this seven-minute monologue, he’s got the chalkboard behind him, and it’s fantastic. Google it if you haven’t already seen it.

So at the top, he writes on the chalkboard “A-I-D-A.” And this is what it means:

  • A, is attention.” So, if you’re thinking about your website, it’s how are you getting attention?  So things like are you getting it through PR, are you getting it through paid advertising? Are you getting it through search engines? Are you getting it through social media or are you getting it through direct marketing?
  • I stands for interesting. And that’s when people come into it. It’s the first time they come to your website, and think is it interesting? And that’s actually quite a loaded question, is your website interesting enough?
  • D, and that’s desire. So, that’s usually in a lot of sales situations, especially I would guess, and I’m not as well-versed in HR and recruitment, but it’s usually to get someone to trust a brand, you’ll notice that people have returned to the website multiple times. So, desire for me, the easiest way to understand desire, is are you getting multiple visits back to your website?
  • And then, finally, A, and that’s the action. So, you might be trying to get more qualified candidates or you might be trying to get more clients. And if those, say, are your two main goals on your website, for the whole funnel of this A-I-D-A to work, you’re going to be measuring how long it takes you to get to the action.  What kind of actions are you getting? Are they the right kind of people? And if you haven’t figured out the layers one by one, it’s very hard to arrive at the action.

So, trust signals isn’t just saying “Oh, my site is trustworthy”, or when you’re looking at your site you’re like, “Hmm, is this trustworthy?” I want to pull apart the things that make people trust your website. And what I want to get away from is that gut reaction. When you’re looking at your own site it’s very hard to be objective, so what I want to pull apart in this podcast is to really tell you what is it that makes people say, “Hmm, this seems trustworthy.”

Are things like “As seen in the Times,” or “We have been awarded the best employer to work for,” trust signals?

So that’s an example of one tactic that can be quite effective for someone who wants to know “Hey, who is Jorgen? Who is this guy?” And I Google your name and let’s say I arrive at Link Humans. I can then arrive at some project that you’re involved in when I hit that first page. But when you get there, you’re thinking “You know what, is this for me?” Because, obviously, we live in a world where if they’re on a desktop and there’s probably like a dozen tabs open. They may be giving a certain amount of time to your website or maybe they’re giving it like ten seconds to just get an idea of, “Is this for me?” And if it can first pass the “Is it for me” stage, then there’s this sprinkle of interest.

And then it goes on to “Does this seem credible?” And that’s where things like “As mentioned on Glassdoor” or “We work with LinkedIn” or whatever it might be helps. If there are brands that people do recognize, and do trust, and it appears with your brand, and they’ve never heard of your brand, then that’s one thing, that’s one little trust signal that’ll just bump up the overall. Together, it’s all a bit complex because there are multiple trust signals that will hit them.

So another trust signal right off the bat might be, does the first line, that USP, the big headline at the top of your site if you’ve got one, “Does this sound like it’s for me and does this sound like it’s real?” And if you’re trying to showboat by saying we’re so passionate, and this is a ground-breaking company, etc. If you’re using boring language like that, that usually goes against you, and people are sceptical of it.  So my advice would be, when you’re thinking trust signals, you’re thinking of a very sceptical audience. A poll was carried out on one copywriter which is actually fantastic. Her name is Joanna Wiebe and she’s a Canadian-based conversion copywriter. And she says: “When people hit your site for the first time, it’s just got to pass two things. It’s got to say ‘so what?’ And then it’s got to prove it, and it’s got to do if fast.” So, “Why am I here? Why did I just hit this page? Yeah, okay, this sounds like it’s for me,” and then right after they’re thinking, “All right, prove it. Is this actually worth my time?” So the two things which are quite handy to remember is “so what?” And then “prove it.”

What do people get wrong about trust signals?

I think the biggest misconception that I see over and over again is people think that they can self-qualify themselves or they can prove that they’re worth a website visitor’s time by saying that they’re trust… Not necessary to say, “I’m trustworthy,” but, trying to say how good they are.

And every rule can be broken but on your website, anytime you say something nice about yourself, you can’t say it yourself. So, what does that mean? If you want to say your culture as a recruitment agency is a fit for the candidate, the type of candidate you’re trying to appeal to, you need to get other candidates that have gone through your agency, or your company, to say that.

You might be able to say that this is what you stand for, and this is what your beliefs and values are as a company. It might be that you are a recruitment agency that serves the creative industry. So you’re looking at people that work in advertising, in marketing or in PR and you might be trying to come across as hip or cool. But you can say that, and you can show pictures from your office. So a trust signal might be a picture from within your office, and people can see how you’re dressed, or how many people there are. But you want the candidate, through the means of a testimonial, to say “I really liked working with this recruitment agency and the reason why I liked working with them is because culturally they really get what it is to be a creative, and it’s something that I didn’t experience in the five other companies or recruitment agencies that I’d gone through.” They have to give you that testimonial, you can’t say it yourself. So, to answer the question, the moment you think that you can pat yourself on the back and put that on the website, you’re doing it wrong.

How can you build trust at the very top of the funnel?

So that is where the random role of PR comes in. Usually you can control the experience once people hit your website to kind of present the side of your company you want to present. But at attention, if, let’s say, you want to get some coverage in the press and usually a lot of people are like, “Well, I don’t want to pay that PR agency that much money to get press or that freelancer or consultant.” Where PR is quite handy is if an article placed on another site that the audience recognizes, let’s say a brand which is relevant for your recruitment agency to end up on Inc or Entrepreneur or Forbes, or whatever brand that your audience is used to seeing. If you can appear on that website, and create the first time they’ve heard of your brand and create that attention, by the time that traffic goes from that article back to your website or they bookmark the article, then they end up googling your brand a week later, or whatever. When that traffic hits, the performance of that traffic is so much better than pretty much any other traffic I’ve seen. And it’s a lot lower. But you don’t get the volume of traffic if you’re doing a bunch of advertising, because that advertising traffic when it hits your site is sceptical. It is not ready to believe anything you have to say. But when that traffic comes from a PR placement, and it’s in a publication that someone trusts, and then they come back to your website, they’re already warm. You don’t have to prove to them or sell to them as hard. And that is one way, at the attention level to get trust going, by using some PR because people will trust your website a lot more if that’s the original way they heard of you.

Follow Filip on Twitter @FilipMatous and don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Brand Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.