Review sites are the first place that most of us turn to for information on new products and businesses. Before spending our hard-earned money, we like to hear about the first-hand experiences of those who have been there. As it turns out, job-seekers aren’t any different, and the Glassdoor website has been providing answers for nearly ten years.
Glassdoor is an Internet-based employment company that brings together job seekers and the companies looking to hire them. Since its founding in 2007, it has become one of the fastest-growing hiring and recruiting sites on the Internet, surpassing CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, and others as one of the go-to websites for people looking to advance their careers.
Popular features of the Glassdoor site include databases with job interview reports, salary reports, and CEO ratings. But what perhaps gets the most attention on Glassdoor are anonymously written employee reviews. Any employee, current or former, can go to Glassdoor and share opinions about their workplace, providing information and viewpoints without having to leave a name.
“Applicants can also share questions asked, what the interview/candidate experience was like, and other details that might be helpful,” wrote one HR consultant.
In fact, Glassdoor does not exempt itself from these reviews. The company actively encourages its employees to use the site to put them under a microscope.
A Site Like No Other
Glassdoor’s formula has all been a tremendous success: the company’s valuation is said to be near $500 million. To date, the company’s database boasts some eight million company reviews.
“No other site,” Glassdoor declares, “allows you to see which employers are hiring, what it’s really like to work or interview there according to employees, and how much you could earn.”
It’s those anonymous employee reviews that really set the company apart. Inspiration for them is said to have come when Robert Hohman, one of Glassdoor’s founders, recalled what happened at a previous job; an incident when he accidently left the results of an anonymous, in-house company survey out in the open. Anyone could have seen them. It occurred to Hohman that since they were anonymous, those survey results might be useful to outsiders, and could provide them with a good idea of what the company was really like: its corporate culture and employee earning potential. It was from this insight that Glassdoor was born.
In its community guidelines, Glassdoor encourages site users to write thoughtful and well-reasoned commentaries. “We don’t accept reviews that include malicious personal attacks (by name, title or association).” And indeed, observers note that most of the employee reviews appearing on Glassdoor are legitimate, and adhere to those guidelines.
But not all of them.
“False and defamatory reviews can nevertheless make it through and up on the Internet,” wrote attorney Whitney C. Gibson and two co-authors, in an article on DefamationRemovalAttorneysBlog.com. When all is said and done, Gibson notes, Glassdoor publishes reviews at its discretion, and its decisions are final. The Glassdoor team might take a second look at potentially harmful content, he says, but if they decide that content should remain on the site, it will.
Even the threat of legal action, Gibson wrote, may not help. “Glassdoor is not required to defer to a court or to follow a court order.”
How To Respond
So what is a company to do, if trashed anonymously on Glassdoor? An analyst writing on the Intero Advisory website offers up several ways to respond.
First of all, recognize that in spite of Glassdoor’s popularity, the people who post there do so anonymously, and can therefore be viewed as fringe dwellers. “A few negative comments will not outweigh [the] overall positive.” More than a few means you may have a bigger problem – but you’re probably aware of that already.
You may not over-react, but those anonymous, negative reviews could be hurting your company’s reputation. If a job candidate asks about a negative post seen on Glassdoor, own it. Explain why it is wrong. Your company, after all, may be under new ownership or new management, or it might have been hurt by an economic downturn. Whatever the reason, there is probably a satisfactory explanation, so be transparent.
It is always a good idea to build out your company’s brand on sites like LinkedIn, widely considered the most credible employment social media site. This is the place to honestly describe your company culture. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn Company Page, establish one. Recruit some of your employees to write in support of the company. Unlike Glassdoor reviews, they’ll probably be proud to sign their name to it.
Some industry observers have been highly critical of the Glassdoor business model. Nick Corcodilos, for example, dismissed Glassdoor as just another job board; a curiosity that generates revenue without providing much in return. “The very idea of a website that encourages people to anonymously critique employers is ludicrous and irresponsible,” Corcodilos said. “I think its use is widespread because it makes money. That fact impresses HR executives and the public, leading them all to base business decisions on admittedly untrustworthy information.”
Since any disgruntled employee or job seeker can use Glassdoor to disparage any company, and because there is such a tremendous volume of posts, honest comments inevitably get lost.
Glassdoor Employee Engagement Manager Lisa Holden, meanwhile, insists the company takes its data integrity seriously, and does its best to provide honest and balanced information about the companies that are discussed. “Every review on Glassdoor must meet our community guidelines before it gets published,” she said. “For example, all reviews require both pros and cons. Approximately fifteen percent of reviews submitted to Glassdoor are rejected, as they do not meet community guidelines.”
What kind of impact do Glassdoor reviews really have? A company called Software Advice decided to find out, and surveyed some forty-six hundred job hunters. “Having a strong – and positive – presence on Glassdoor can improve your brand and help pique applicants’ interest in your company,” the Software Advice survey concluded. “After all, the majority of job seekers using Glassdoor do so to research top employers in their field.” So the trick is making sure your company has reviews that are as favorable as possible.
Professional Review Management
If your company is subjected to negative Glassdoor reviews, remember that it is still possible for you to control your own destiny. You must, above all else, be proactive. If negative reviews persist, and are doing damage to your company’s online reputation, consider turning to the professionals at InternetReputation.com. Our Online Reputation Management team can help you overcome those negative reviews, as well as to establish a more positive and powerful online presence.