We often get asked by clients how they should handle all the various rankings that they appear in. Many of them point out that they are surprised (and sometimes a little annoyed) when their manager asks them about why the company has fallen in ranking A, risen in ranking B, and why they are nowhere to be found in ranking C. It is clear to me that companies often feel that they are not in control, of how or why the company is portrayed in various rankings. So let’s look at how you can map out your path through the ranking jungle.
If you are responsible for employer branding in your organization, you also have the mandate to decide which rankings should matter and which ones should not. If you don’t feel you have that mandate, you should aim to get it. You need to realize that only some rankings have value for you, and determine which ones they are. Then you should communicate that internally, both to your managers and to the employees. Occasional reminders of this may be needed throughout the year as the flood of rankings increases.
Once you are in charge and everybody knows it, look at your recruitment needs from a workforce planning perspective. A good workforce plan is based on your business plan, and takes a long-term view on your recruitment needs from a geographical and a skills perspective. If a particular ranking doesn’t reflect those needs, it shouldn’t matter. You can be even more specific and take personality aspects into account. If you know that a leader fits better with your organization than a hunter, the only ranking that should matter to you is your ranking among leaders.
It’s important to look at the schools where the ranking survey has been conducted. There is a tendency that the more schools, the more countries, and the more respondents, the higher status the ranking receives. But that skews things for you. Who really cares if you rank low at schools or in countries where you don’t recruit?
Focus instead on rankings based on a sample group that is relevant to you and reflects your target schools and your target groups. This concept seems to be particularly difficult for top managers. My impression is that top managers that are detached from the daily employer branding work are more concerned with the general rankings that are widely published. If you have done your homework and clearly defined for yourself, and your organization, what rankings matter and why, you should be able to prove to your manager that your approach gives the most return on investment and is the best for the bottom line.
Money spent on rankings or on recruitment efforts in places that don’t serve your recruitment needs does not make business sense. It is wasted money. And no manager likes that. No matter how much they like to be seen at the top of rankings, at the end of the day, what really matters is how attractive you are among those you want to recruit. Your manager is just going to have to find something else to brag about.