Tools of the Trade: What’s the Deal with Glassdoor?

As a technologist in an HR related company, one of the questions I get the most is, “What’s the deal with Glassdoor?” It’s not an easy question to answer. 

For us, the value of Glassdoor is really a mixed bag. As a job search engine, it’s rather unimpressive. You’ll likely find that it has all the same jobs posted as all the other major job search engines but with a slightly awkward user experience. 

Where Glassdoor really shines is as a research tool. Glassdoor is more popularly known as a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies, their interview practices, and their management. What this means for us is that we can learn a lot about our potential employers and their interview processes before interviewing or accepting an offer. But even this comes with some baggage.

First, It’s a popular review site and most people who take the time to review something online are typically upset about something. Be prepared to see a lot of negative reviews that may or may not be warranted. Also, like many review sites, they may or may not even be true.

Second, Glassdoor knows about the first problem. And, they’ve gotten a lot of bad press for deleting negative reviews. I know it sounds like since the first issue of an abundance of negative reviews makes the second issue sound like a good idea, but the reality is that it amounts to censorship and you end up missing out on what could be critical information.

Despite these issues there’s still a lot of value in the company reviews. You just have to be smart about reading them. Spend time looking for trends and repetitious remarks. If one person says management is bad, then maybe they just feel slighted. If 15 people say management is bad, then perhaps there’s something to it. 

Something I’ve not yet mentioned is that Glassdoor also collects salary info. The data comes from employees as well but the way it collects that data makes it slightly more likely to be accurate. There’s typically no emotional part to sharing that information anonymously. 

We recommend you use Glassdoor, just be careful with the information, stay calm, and perhaps instead of letting bad reviews steer you away, let them guide you into the company.