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Checking Your Rep as an Employer

I’ll admit, I dig looking at reviews when I’m looking for a new place to eat, sleep, visit, etc.  It’s not everything, but it's definitely got a lot of pull for where I choose to spend my coin in this state I live in. And when I read a review, I read as many of them as I can to get an overall sense of the place, rather than letting one tinge the overall decision-making process.

So when found myself chatting with two colleagues – one an HR Consultant and the other a Marketing Director at a hiring-focused firm, and talking about how the candidate experience reflects on hiring as a whole, and of course how in tight-knit towns like this, where community rules and cynicism is high, your reputation as an employer plays out in the public eye.  Whether it be in usergroup meetings or on blogs or via sites like Glassdoor that allow candidates and employees to rate companies, it’s pretty easy to find out what people think of employers out there.

And while of course it’s not always represented, these louder voices DO deserve attention.  After all, candidate and employees are our customers, whether internally or externally, and should be treated as such.  And if you know how the market is in tech, you’ll know that it’s not an employers’ market when looking for awesome engineering talent.  If you get a reputation as a sucky place to work, it’ll stick.

During many of my recent years as a corporate recruiter, Glassdoor has been an interesting one for me to watch in its evolution over the past six years. It provides some great insight into a lot of companies out there with multiple perspectives to be considered, including job seeker, interviewer, hiring manager, employee, and industry expert.  From types of interview questions to average salaries reported to employee reviews, it’s grown exponentially and yet, a lot of employers don’t seem to take it that seriously.

So, I thought I’d start with three personal experiences I’ve had from three different perspectives…

  1. Recruiter perspective: I saw a review that told me all I needed to know about one employer I once worked for. It talked about the interview process and while the person complimented my efforts (yay for me), they were completely underwhelmed by the hiring manager’s unprofessional behavior, lack of punctuality to the interview, and poor quality interview skills.  It left them apathetic about even working for the company, so no matter what hard work I’d done, the hiring manager effed it up.  And companies often forget, that candidates – like customers – have friends and acquaintances they’ll tell about how you treated them.

  2. Candidate perspective: I was being wooed by a prospective employer to leave the company I was at, and during the offer process, the company actually had the nerve to require that new non-technical employees sign an agreement stating that they’d pay the company $10,000 if they left before they’d been employed 2 years.  Nope, no hiring bonus involved, it was their penalty they made employees pay for leaving.  Or as they fondly called it, “a retention tool.”  The high-profile CEO even called me and harangued me for 45 minutes about it, pretending that the money collected went to an orphanage. Fortunately for me, I’ve got enough confidence to see right through that type of unethical behavior.  Matched with the fact that they decided that full time was 45, not 40, hours per week, and they would make 4 recruiter share one LinkedIn license, I was a giant heck no.  And during that time, I checked Glassdoor.  I learned that they treated their international employees even worse.  It was nauseating.  And so yes, I wrote a review, because as someone who believes so strongly in fairness and equity, this company’s behaviors were such that I felt others should be warned.  Oh, and when I declined the offer professionally, in writing? Not one person of the six on the hiring team even acknowledged it. There’s your answer, folks.

  3. Consultant/Industry perspective: These days, I help small companies hire hard-to-fill positions through management of their recruiting processes.  From cleaning up and organizing processes to sourcing candidates to managing the full cycle, my retainer makes sure everything and everyone is taken care of.  And the one thing I’ve learned over the past year?  Check Glassdoor on your new clients.  Because there is some interesting info on there that will tell you a lot about the culture.  It’ll tell you about the work that people are doing, the pay that employees are making, and the experiences, both positive and negative, that both candidates and employees were so passionate about they decided to write about it.  And yes, I’ve had prospective candidates come to me and say hey, the job sounds cool but the reviews aren’t great, so no thanks…

So the next predictable answer that comes up from employers is “well, it’s not an accurate reflection of the company because it’s only the grumpy folks” (I guess their opinions don’t count!) or my favorite, “our employee surveys show that we have generally satisfied folks on our team so Glassdoor is not representative.”


Anyone who’s been asked to take an “employee satisfaction survey” with half a brain will never give the truly worst parts of their job away.  As states in Few Employee Surveys Work, most employees are cynical because of questionable anonymity for their responses. “Most people are aware that anything online can be traced,” so even with a nameless survey, we all know they can find out whose computers they came from.  Furthermore, managements inability to objectively interpret all of the data is a huge problem.  “It is frustrating to witness how managers wave away complaints or gripes on surveys as simple whining. Or they might shrug their shoulders and say, “there is absolutely nothing we can do about this issue,” so they consider the input as moot.”

Here’s the deal: if HuffPost is talking about the 25 Most Difficult Companies to Interview based on Glassdoor, and Resumator’s blog post about How Not to Hire: Lessons from Glassdoor’s Most Poorly Reviewed Companies, you best be payin’ attention to what’s on there about your company.

So, with that, think about it.  While these sites may not be all-encompassing representations, there’s a lot of good data to be taken from them, whether you’re a company or a candidate.  Remember how you take the best and worst score out and focus on where the majority fall?  Just as if you were deciding on a restaurant by reading Yelp reviews 🙂

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”   ~Winston Churchill


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