Glassdoor, not so Transparent

“Glassdoor is a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management.”

Sounds good, in theory…

Glassdoor is a website like Yelp for employers, and like Yelp, Glassdoor has its fair share of users that like to turn a review into their anonymous manifesto, ranting about their horrible experiences at company XYZ. Hopefully, everyone knows to take online reviews with a grain of salt, expect these people… but let’s be real: these sites that allow anonymous posting often end up acting like the stall door in a truck-stop bathroom rather than providing honest insights about a given company.

Glassdoor is Emotionally Charged

All applicants want to do their due diligence before joining a new company. Glassdoor seems like a good resource for a company’s culture, salary potential, people, and job security. While pertinent information is available in most cases it can be overshadowed by the emotional charges reviews.  Those harsh reviews are like mini soap operas that draw you in and it’s hard to prevent them from influencing your perception.

Glassdoor reviews are almost never written by current content employees and the ones that are incendiary are never authored by employees who left by their own choice.  Any review must be viewed through the lens of the author.   On the flip side, happy employees don’t feel the need to be on a site that’s designed for people seeking employment. As a result, the majority of the reviews on Glassdoor are written by former employees.

Reviews at both ends of the spectrum, the angry hate-filled, and the too-good-to-be-true types should be cast aside as unreliable and potentially fake. If you do that, you are left with average reviews that could provide a small glimpse into a company’s culture.  The data/feedback on Glassdoor should be treated as a small data point in a sea of many data points to evaluate a company/opportunity. 

Anonymous = No Credibility


The problem with Glassdoor is simple: It’s anonymous. HR departments can pay Glassdoor to subsidize anonymous ratings and salary surveys, and anyone can write reviews. You’ll never know if what you’re reading is legitimate because what you’re reading depends on who is writing it.  There are no repercussions for any posting and no author is 100% legit when authenticity is always in question.

Glassdoor markets anonymity as the secret sauce to their service. But without accountability, no user can/should take any review seriously.

Many people use the site to find overarching patterns of commonalities across reviews, and that could provide a base level of insight. But because any given review is unverified, any salary data is unverified, and any review can be falsely positive OR falsely negative, it’s probably a waste of time altogether.

Glassdoor is a business and that business is making money, so they make money from job postings, using reviews as a bait and switch. They get you on the site and then show you other jobs that they sold to companies who have fake reviews on the site those reviews are merely a means to an end.

Break the Glassdoor

Doing research on a potential employer is different from an online purchase, and you should treat it as such. Save online reviews for your next purchase on Amazon not some disgruntled employee with an ax to grind. Instead, when evaluating a potential employer, turn your search to LinkedIn:

Check out my previous blog post about using your LinkedIn Network

Do some research, real research. Connect with a former company employee who worked there longer than a year to understand the pros/cons of the company. Always start with the pros and then ask if there was anything they would change about their experience. Engage with current employees to understand the culture and what the day-to-day is like in a given department. Be creative on why you are engaging, you might say you are interested in the company and leave things vague so you don’t come off weird for investigating. Seek out vendors or customers you are connected with and ask them for insight into the company.  Basically, you need to get insights from multiple resources to ensure you have a sample size large enough to make an informed decision about a company. 

Like many things in life, Glassdoor sounds good in theory, but in practice, it becomes a soapbox for the disenfranchised and disgruntled.  The overly positive reviews bring questions of realism and you are left with an average group of feedback to evaluate a company. I recommend staying away from Glassdoor.

Glassdoor is Dangerous and Irresponsible.

Like many people, I don’t like when people use bait & switch to sell me, it insults my intelligence, and I feel like it starts the relationship off with a lie.  I get that Glassdoor needs to make money, but don’t act like you are providing some amazing free platform for employees and ex-employees to provide feedback to inform others.  Really you are creating a platform for people to anonymously bash employers, call out managers and paint broad brushstrokes about leadership with no repercussions or accountability.

People are engaged to read these soap-opera-like postings and Glassdoor really wants to pitch them job opportunities that other companies have paid to post. Basically, Glassdoor is providing a shiny object to lure people to a job board posting technology on par with Monster and CareerBuilder.   

Here is what I think of job boards if you are wondering.