Unless you have an insider in a company, it’s really difficult to tell if a company is what they present themselves to be. Just as you’re putting your interview face forward, the company is most likely singing their own praises and telling you generic blanket statements like, “We are all collaborative and there’s tons of room for growth!”
Despite hearing these statements during an interview, I know countless new hires that start their job search all over again weeks after starting a new job. Some frightening reasons on why they need me to help them find a new job include:
– “The company started to go through massive layoffs shortly after I joined.”
– “My boss that hired me failed to tell me during the interview he was not going to be there by the time I onboarded. My new manager is the complete opposite of what I signed up for.”
– “There’s massive turnover and everything from the top bottom is chaotic.”
– “The company is so disorganized and dysfunctional; my role is nothing as they described.”
Yikes! While humans are trying to master the broken recruitment process, companies like Glassdoor.com have started to sprout up over the years to help jobseekers avoid these situations. Glassdoor.com is a career site where current and past employees provide reviews on pros, cons, CEO approval ratings and salaries of their companies. (Fun fact, I visited Glassdoor’s headquarters in 2011 and their entrance is actually a wooden door!).
But is what you are reading what you get when it comes to online reviews?
I have heard of companies that encourage (ahem, order) employees to write something positive. I have also heard of disgruntled employees spewing negativity even though they were the ones to blame. Without any type of formal verification process on whether a review is an actual employee, it’s difficult to assess. And even if it is from an actual employee, how strong should one employee’s opinion be held when making a decision without knowing their full background, circumstance, or values?
Then there is the argument that people who have negative experiences are most likely to complain to all of their friends on why they should avoid a company like the plague. We are less inclined to spread the word of a positive experience. We now all pinpoint United Airlines as one of the worst airlines to select, but do we have a single airline that we pledge loyalty to based on raving fan reviews going viral?
So, with all of those caveats in mind, here’s my guide on how to use Glassdoor if you can’t locate an insider at the company:
Glassdoor Reviews: 4 Tips to Assess if Glassdoor is Reliable or Fake News
1. Read every review and start looking for patterns in the pros and cons.
Fake reviews are pretty easy to spot. If they have nothing negative to say, it’s probably the owner or someone from the recruiting department. There’s always room for improvement in any company! As you review, take note and see what positions and departments these reviews are coming from. You should know what title and role you will be entering so make sure you pay particular attention to those ones. Spotting consistencies is key – if you read ‘lack of management’ or ‘lack of growth opportunities’ or ‘no work life balance’ over and over again, you have your answers.
2. Come up with a list of five qualities and values you really admire and need in your next organization.
Make sure you have this written out before you do any research so you don’t feel swayed as you start looking at reviews. If positive or open communication is really important to you, and you don’t see any of these words or synonyms of these words populating, you might want to assess further during an interview.
3. Ask open-ended questions in an interview.
One of the best questions you can ask the interviewer is, “There seems to be a lot of positive qualities about Company, but if there is one thing you wish you could change about your role or company, what would that be?” And pause. See what the interview has to say. Remember, as much as you are being interviewed, you should be interviewing the company to avoid a bad match.
4. Analyze LinkedIn profiles.
Take a look at LinkedIn profiles by doing a search for both past and current employees. See if you can filter down to your department and ask these two questions: How long have they worked at Company? Has anyone been promoted at Company? By studying profiles, you can tell a lot about growth trajectories and longevity within each department.
When you’re job searching, make sure you’re also checking in with your gut. You can generally get a good pulse based on the various people you speak with along the way. Make sure a company treats you with respect, is good at communicating, and is courteous from the first email to the first visit. This, combined with Glassdoor Reviews, will allow you to make a more confident decision.