Corporate Eye

The Fortune Follow-up

Fortune Top 100 commentsIn the final installment of the Employer Brand series, I promised a postscript on how the Fortune list of ‘100 Best Companies to Work For‘ has been received by readers—and here’s the summary, along with a couple of takeaways. Then read on to see some runners-up for the ‘Cynthia’s Favorite Five’ list.

  • Several people comment that their companies either won’t participate in the ‘100 Best’ contest, or used to participate and have now quit. (Southwest Airlines, which was once prominent on the list, is mentioned in the latter category.)
  • A few commenters allege their companies actually run campaigns and/or create false impressions to garner high marks.
  • The most frequently found single comment type is some version of “Why isn’t IBM on the list?” (Not sure why the obsession with IBM.)
  • Many comments have the theme “maybe Company X is great somewhere else, but not in my location/department/position.” (One person comments that Google is not fun for people over 35, which seems believable.)
  • Company enthusiasts frequently mention that they personally have been treated well; that company leaders exhibit the company values; and/or that the company is not laying off.
  • Company detractors frequently mention toxic culture, poor leadership, depressed employees, hypocrisy, and/or that the company is laying off.

Relevance for improving Careers sites? (a) People have a lot of passion—positive and otherwise—about their employers, past and future. Give site visitors something they can respond to with feeling. (b) Employee testimonials on the site can have value. But be sure they accurately reflect the company’s culture and circumstances. Even a suggestion of hypocrisy or manipulation will turn off some visitors.

PCLRounding out Cynthia’s excellent adventure: As mentioned in the last post, I chose Alcon as the most energizing site among the bigger companies I visited. Actually, though, Alcon is tiny compared to Starbucks–and at 7,000+ employees, is among the smaller companies on the Fortune list. Better to say I was looking for something interesting among companies in more conservative industries or business sectors.

And in that spirit, here’s a shout-out to PCL Construction (I liked the stylishly industrial look of their design, plus the prominent placement of the sub-menu) and to Johnson Bank (the pinstripe look done well, with a sophisticated yet sincere feeling). As for the biggest company on the list . . . the FedEx Careers site earned my entry-level praise phrase: ‘Functions well and fits the brand.’

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.