Every job seeker in the digital age knows about Glassdoor. It’s the go-to company review site when one is interested in an employer. It is like a Yelp of sorts, providing anonymous reviews from both current and former employees, detailing what it is like to work for an employer. Reviews can range from unrealistically positive to extremely negative. If you’re a job-seeker, how much weight should you place in Glassdoor reviews?
It is well-known that many companies write fabricated positive reviews of their companies, in order to enhance their online reputation and attract talent. In my opinion, it’s harder to trust positive reviews. Many of us come across Glassdoor reviews which are so blatantly fabricated, it’s almost comical. You just know that behind the computer screen, the business owner is pressuring his employees to post false reviews on glassdoor, or even worse, he’s writing the reviews up himself.
Of course, negative reviews can be misleading as well. People who are upset feel more motivated to write reviews. These bad reviews are often written in the heat of the moment, with zero objectivity. They are more likely to be truthful than with positive reviews, but they are often only telling one side of the situation. People’s egos can often cloud perception; making their negative review atypical of the average employee’s experience with that company.
Everyone in life has different experiences with companies and managers. Sometimes a workplace culture simply does not mesh well with a hire’s personality traits. This incompatibility is through no fault of either party, but it can greatly differentiate one’s experience. (Although it is fair to say that a new hire’s workplace culture clash is often due to a faulty interview process). When situations like this happen, it can lead both parties to hold a skewed view of the other party and put a damper on morale and productivity.
Sometimes, people can just be unkind. Many managers have experienced entitled and lazy employees. These people can often find themselves in an online poo-flinging match once let go. Vindictive people can simply go online and create a Glassdoor account in a matter of minutes. The democracy of the internet gives many the power to harm a company’s reputation at the click of a button.
Simply put, it is hard to say how much weight you should place in Glassdoor reviews. What may be an issue for one may not be an issue for you. Here are some ways to discern between reviews (and make a decision that’s right for you):
- Pay attention to the specific complaints. If people are complaining about a sink-or-swim onboarding process, that may be an issue if you are entry-level. But, if you have years of direct experience, this may be an environment you can handle.
- Do all the positive Glassdoor reviews share a similar tone? Each individual has their own writing style, much like one’s fingerprint. If the positive reviews seem to consist of the same writing style, you can conclude that the same person is writing all of them. If five-star Glassdoor reviews are consistently receiving the same comments such as, “Invest in the company and they will invest in you” or “You get in what you put in”, I often surmise that these are fabricated. Those quotes seem to be a cliche of the MLMs I encountered.
- Are there common themes in the negative Glassdoor reviews? If negative reviews are consistently complaining about the same problems, there may be more to them than just the angry words of a disgruntled employee.
Overall, I am sorry to say that neither you, nor me, can predict the future. Just be discerning when reading the reviews to avoid making a poor career decision. An in-person interview process can allow you to glean more information about the work environment and company culture. It is important to question things, and when your gut tells you something is off, it is best to listen.