When you’ve decided to seek a new job, the internet is full of tools that can help you with your search. I’ve written several posts about various services. Each has pros and cons, but Glassdoor tries to offer something unique. It allows current and former employees to rate their companies. The site offers job seekers a unique window into company cultures and the CEO’s performance. Many job sites offer little to no information about the companies themselves. This is why Glassdoor can be a valuable tool when doing research on various companies.
What is Glassdoor?
Glassdoor is a free site that has both company reviews and job listings. To sign-up, you can register for a free account. You can use your Facebook or Google login or create an account with an email. To get the full value from the site, they encourage users to post reviews. You can review a previous employer, evaluate the benefits they offered, the interview experience, and more. Whatever you decide, Glassdoor wants you to become a contributor to have full access to their information.
Besides leaving reviews, you can upload your resume and create searches. Searches can be based on job titles, keywords, or specific companies. Narrow the results by specific geographic location. Once you create a search, you can further filter the results by date posted, salary range, ratings, and more. If you’re happy with the results, you can save the search. Create an alert and receive emails when there are jobs posted.
The biggest differentiator Glassdoor offers from other career websites is the reviews. Like Amazon, reviews from real people often tell a very different story. It's different from the marketing spin displayed on most companies' careers page. People talk about their work experience. There’s a fair number of both positive and negative reviews for most companies.
People often use a job change as the impetus to write a review. So, you’re going to find a Glassdoor review from people moving up but happy with their past experience. There are also those whose jobs have come to an unceremonious end. They lash out and vent their frustrations and dissatisfactions. Expect both and each sheds an interesting light on the companies. Just like Amazon, what you need to look for are common themes. There will always be happy and unhappy people. But if you start to see common themes in the reviews, it begins to build a picture of what the company is like.
I’m a big believer in the importance of organizational culture, and this is where reviews can be super helpful. Do they talk about a positive and supportive working environment? Or about poor communicators and micro-managers? Do they love the people they work with? Or talk about internal politics, fighting, and a lack of collaboration? Sometimes, dissatisfied employees write reviews that are too specific to their unique circumstances. These aren’t helpful. There are bad employees out there who try to blame others for their mistakes or poor performance. Look for the reviewers who take a broader view. Those who give insight into issues that affected their job satisfaction and success. Look for patterns in both the positive and negative reviews. You’ll start to see a picture of what the company might be like to work for and how they value building a positive company culture.
Should You Post a Glassdoor Review?
Posting reviews is important because it’s a way of being a participant to a valuable resource. As mentioned in a previous article, you should temper your comments. Be thoughtful about what you want to say. There’s a temptation when you feel wronged, or your job came to an abrupt end, you may want to seek retribution on your old employer by posting a negative review. I understand this feeling. The temptation can be strong to go off on a tirade of thoughts about all the things you see wrong. I’d encourage you to take a different approach.
Write your review offline and get all your frustrations and issues out in a draft. Once you’ve vented and had it all written down, save it and walk away from it for a few days. Come back and start editing it down. Focus on facts and start taking the emotion out of your comments. Your thoughts on the company are your opinions. But as much as possible, stick to substance and avoid being subjective. Do the editing several times until you’re left with a review that’s concise and factual. You’ll feel better about getting your frustrations out and the final product will be something that’s factual and helpful to other job seekers. Think about your review from the perspective of a prospective employee. Tell them what they should know about this company before making their decision.
Finally, here's one word of caution about writing a review. While they are anonymous, it’s not hard to figure out who wrote the review, especially in small companies. Be careful not to be malicious, derogatory, or reveal insider information. You don’t want the company to come after you. Avoid saying anything defamatory or that violates agreements around confidentiality.
Glassdoor Job Postings
Jobs posted on Glassdoor are the same ones you've seen on other sites like Indeed and LinkedIn. There are job postings with an easy apply option. You can use the resume you've uploaded to the site before. This can speed up the application process. But it's only available for a small percentage. You'll also see many jobs posted several times. The companies posted these job opportunities, and various recruiters reposted them. It's at times frustrating because sometimes, the company name isn’t listed. Be careful in reading the job descriptions. Make sure you’re not applying for the same job many times.
Another frustration is that some job postings link out to other services. They need your information with other services before having access to apply for the job. This means more spam in your inbox. It’s hard to know where the links will take you until you hit the apply button and see what happens.
Finally, Glassdoor sometimes estimates the salary for a job based on completed reviews. These can be very helpful especially to help exclude jobs that don’t meet your salary requirements. They are only estimates. But if a job offers a salary below where you want to be, that’s a sign it’s not going to be a match for you. Unfortunately, many job postings don't list a salary range. And Glassdoor is unable to provide an estimate so you’ll be left guessing. Why employers continue to leave off salaries is puzzling. It leaves candidates to apply for jobs that aren't a match and deluges HR departments with a ton of resumes that won't match their mystery salary profile. How about some transparency for everyone's sake?
Can You Trust Glassdoor Reviews?
As with any review site, users need to trust that the reviews are honest and not manipulated. There has been much written about Yelp and review manipulation. There are services offered to try and negate negative reviews. News like that can destroy the reputation of a website. Yelp spent a lot of energy reassuring users that reviews aren’t manipulated. Sadly, I believe there’s manipulation happening on Glassdoor. They state that companies cannot remove bad reviews but can comment on them. Yet, I’ve seen first hand that bad reviews can be scrubbed and fake reviews planted by the company.
Not long ago, I received an email from Glassdoor. They said they have new reviews for a company I was following. It got the highlights of those reviews in the email, and I went and read the full reviews on the site. In this case, both were negative but didn’t violate any terms of service based on their content.
A few days later, I went to read them again and saw that both were gone without a trace. In their place, a clearly fake, planted view was highlighted. How do I know it’s fake? It was pretty obvious. There had been a string of negative reviews that accurately reflected the status of the company. This fake review presented a glowing review in which everything was positive. The company was said to be successful and an exciting place to work and grow your career. It had HR written all over it and was the opposite of almost every other review posted. I wrote Glassdoor and asked how this could have happened. They said the company wouldn’t have been able to have the negative review removed but they also gave a couple of scenarios on what might have happened.
The first was that if the reviewer had posted previous reviews within the past year, they weren’t allowed to post a new one. This struck me as unlikely because reviews are subject to Glassdoor's review before being set live. Glassdoor’s review team would have seen the reviews posted before. Then, presumably stopped the posting of the new reviews submitted. I also find it odd that the system itself wouldn’t have flagged that to the reviewer. It should have told them they wouldn’t post a new review for xxx days since they had already submitted one. My guess is that in this scenario if the company could claim the same user using a different account, they could get the review removed.
The second scenario is that “Glassdoor performs regular integrity checks on our data, or the data was flagged for review.” To me, that’s a gaping loophole. It gives Glassdoor the freedom to remove reviews under the guise of cleaning up the data. While I understand that some reviews are short, poorly written, or lacking much value, it still seems very suspect. My guess is that companies can complain about specific reviews. And Glassdoor can remove some of them under the defense of cleaning up the data.
In my mind, this lacks integrity. It brings into question the trustworthiness of the site's reviews. At the very least, deleted reviews should show as deleted and the reason why. If a negative review is there one day, and then gone without a trace the next, it gives the appearance of manipulation. Which is exactly what the site goes out of its way to say it doesn’t do.
Glassdoor for Job Seekers
Glassdoor offers some benefits over other job sites but there are caveats.
Even with the outstanding trust issue, I still think Glassdoor is a valuable resource. Like Amazon, you have to take reviews with a grain of salt and look more at the themes and trends. Disregard the outliers, both positive and negative. The salary estimates can be useful as well in determining if the posted jobs are a good fit. Finally, participating in reviews and sharing your thoughts on employers is beneficial. Do it with the job seeker in mind. Be honest, be factual, and be fair. Mismanaged companies or those with cultural problems deserve to be called out, but good companies deserve recognition as well. They might not have achieved their goals or are struggling, but there’s a lot to say about companies that are trying hard to become great places to work.