Should I Trust Glassdoor?
A friend of mine was looking for a job. He ran across a company and was interested in applying there. When he researched the company (via Google), he ran across some negative reviews. He asked my opinion on whether he should move forward.
This is a side effect of the Amazon, Yelp, GIYF (Google is your friend) culture we live in. We are conditioned to seek answers to all of our inquiries online. Glassdoor smartly positioned itself as the Yelp of employment. In their own words: Glassdoor holds a growing database of millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.
How Does Glassdoor Make It’s Money?
Glassdoor charges companies to reach job seekers. In other words, Glassdoor is a job board. Let’s take the idea that Glassdoor was created to benefit the common man and throw it out the window. Glassdoor exists to turn a profit and does so by giving its clients a perceived advantage by access to candidates. Glassdoor attracts candidates with the promise of transparent reviews and inside information.
The Problem with Anonymous Reviews
I conducted a straw poll with my 9 and 12 year old. I asked them if they should trust anonymous reviews. They both said no. When I asked why, they informed me that you don’t know if the business owner is giving the review. There you have it. If a post is anonymous, it can come from an Owner, VP HR, drug addict, competitor, minimum wage worker or total loser. See the problem?
Unverified Salary Information
Another troubling feature of Glassdoor is unverified salary information. I implore you, please do not use this feature as a basis for negotiating. When dealing with small companies or performance-related positions (like sales), the information is especially worthless. If you are interested in a salary negotiation advantage, read my article, 5 Tips to Become an Expert Salary Negotiator.
The Sales Cycle
But what if a company has hundreds of reviews? Isn't that more credible?
Imagine this scenario. An employee drains time and resources and is finally terminated. All of his co-workers collectively breathe a sigh of relief and have a celebratory happy hour. Angry at himself, but unable to be intellectually honest, he lashes out at his previous employer on Glassdoor.
The VP of HR notices that a terrible review pops up. In her effort to set the online record straight, she searches Google (GIYF) and comes across an article like this one, written by Glassdoor, encouraging companies to work the system (they created) to their advantage. In order to counteract the one star, our VP encourages (nudge nudge wink wink) three-five star reviews, resulting in an average of four stars. Glassdoor was successful in positioning itself as a solution to a problem (they created) with the executive at the company who is also in charge of hiring.
This creates an "oh by the way" discussion with salespeople that leads to cold hard cash for Glassdoor. Four illegitimate reviews, seem ridiculous? It happens every day.
Who Do You Trust?
As a result of the GIYF culture, we are taking advice from people that we wouldn’t associate with in real life. My rule on taking advice is simple. Is this person an expert? I’m not interested in fat personal trainers or financial advisors who don’t invest, and I won’t take advice about employment from someone I don't know.