How to Identify an Employer You Can Trust

prospective employer
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prospective employer

Trust. A simple five-letter word that has the power to make or break any relationship in life. And we’re not just talking about personal connections — trust plays a significant role in the professional world, too.

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report recently found that 76% of employees trust their employers. As a job seeker, you want to become part of that 76% — but how? It’s hard to know if you can trust a company before you’re actively employed.

Here are four tactics you can use during your job search to sleuth out whether each prospective employer is truly trustworthy:

1. Reach out to current employees

Even though initiating conversations with current employees might feel a bit awkward at first, the payoff is well worth it. Talking with them is the absolute best way to discover if a company’s branding/messages are accurate and trustworthy. Plus, you’ll get a chance to learn if their interview promises align with their everyday actions.

For example, you might expect your potential employer to provide updated training to any employees affected by automation or innovation (a hot topic in today’s job market). However, the Edelman report reveals only 30% trust that their business will do this — info that would likely come out in conversations with current employees.

Don’t just network with your soon-to-be boss or hiring manager. Reach out to potential co-workers. Those who are in the trenches will be able to share if leaders follow through with employee feedback, honor their mission, fulfill promises, etc.

2. Research the company’s societal impact

Every prospective employer is vying for topic talent, which means they’ll try to make the business look as appealing as possible. Many are doing this by expanding their employer brand and focusing on something all candidates agree on — making the world a better place. 

If you browse the company’s social feed or website, you might see stories sharing how they’ve served the local community, or posts featuring employees’ opportunities for volunteering. But it’s important to understand that they’re creating the narrative they want you to see. What’s their true societal impact?

Social media is really good at distorting reality. So turn to Google and do your own digging: Research the company’s title, leaders’ names, etc. to learn if your prospective employer presents accomplishments in an honest, trustworthy manner.

3. Compare reviews to the career site 

Piggybacking off the idea that businesses want to appear as appealing as possible, be wary of company career sites. Each one is designed to draw you in and make you feel connected. A prospective employer will share its best features, such as:

  • Competitive pay
  • Amazing benefits
  • Flexibility
  • Work-life balance
  • Unlimited PTO

But before you get too excited at the thought of having found your dream job, check out a few review sites. Glassdoor, for example, is a great place to find company reviews from current and former employees. Compare those reviews to the career site promises to measure the truth behind employers’ claims.

4. Ask the right questions during an interview 

The interview isn’t just about proving how well you fit with the company — they also need to prove that they’re a good fit for you. Use the time you have together to let them know that employee-employer trust is a critical factor in your decision-making process.

Be direct in your questions and focus on what’s most important to you. For example, if you want to know you can trust the employer’s promise to deliver career development and opportunities to advance, ask for specific examples of how they’ve done this in the past. Then, take things one step further and ask how they plan to provide the same to you (should you receive an offer).

It may be a cliche, but it’s true: Trust is a two-way street. Be transparent in what you have to offer and your prospective employer will likely do the same.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.