Should I be researching companies on Glassdoor?

These days, there’s no shortage of ways to research a company that you might want to work for. Glassdoor is probably the most popular site for candidates who want to get the inside scoop, and I’m often asked if it’s a good resource and if you should be reading up before an interview. The short answer is yes, I definitely think it’s worth checking out, but make sure to keep a few things in mind...

The great thing about Glassdoor is that it’s accessible to everyone and it’s anonymous. The bad thing about Glassdoor is that it’s accessible to everyone and it’s anonymous. While I do suggest taking a look at a company’s profile, I always add that you should take everything you read with a grain of salt. Anyone can write a review for any company, which means there’s no verification that someone writing a review has actually worked there. You also don’t know anything about their experience or why they might be writing the review, particularly if it’s negative. Were they fired? Not performing to expectations? Do they have any reason to hold a grudge against the company? Working in HR, I have seen employees be released from their jobs and the next day a negative review pops up. Just remember that what you’re reading is only one side of the story.

The other thing is that most people who love the company and their jobs don’t often think to take the time to leave a positive review. Think about buying products for yourself - when it works, you simply enjoy your product and go on with your life, but when it doesn’t work, then you think about leaving a review on the company’s website. I’m sure there’s a fancy psychology term for it, but the basic idea is that unless there’s some kind of incentive, most happy employees aren’t spending time posting on Glassdoor, so you’re definitely missing out on everything they have to say. That’s why you want to ask lots of questions during your interviews!

One final point is that smaller companies, particularly those who aren’t well-known brands, don’t always have as much data on Glassdoor as the larger, more well-known companies do. One company I worked for was a government contractor and purposefully tried to avoid public attention because of the sensitive nature of its work, so we didn’t have much of a social media presence at all, including on Glassdoor. But it was an amazing company and I spent six wonderful years working there, so don’t write off a company just because you don’t see a lot of reviews. Do your research, pay attention in the interview, and talk to the employees while you’re there so you can make an informed decision.

Are you thoroughly confused yet? There’s a lot to keep in mind, but I do think that Glassdoor can be a really valuable resource. Just make sure that it’s not the only data point you’re using to judge whether a company is worth your attention.

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