If you’re on the job hunt, Glassdoor is probably your go-to search tool. The process of looking over company reviews can be overwhelming, though. Like any review, positive and negative comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Was this person’s position soul-sucking, or was the author just jaded? Was this desk job really the best in the world, or did that person’s manager pressure them into writing a review? The internet can be shady. We’re here to help you sort through the muck.
Sometimes past employees will disclose their salaries in order to increase transparency. If the salary of a position you’re looking into is available, be sure to compare it to different companies. Any major deviation should be considered when looking at overly positive or negative reviews. If a company with below average pay has more negative reviews, it’s possible those reviews are more trustworthy--and vice versa.
Rather than trying to determine the veracity of individual reviews, it’s better to look at the aggregate. Out of all of the reviews, what are the common themes? If a third of reviews mention poor management, it’s safe to assume this is probably an issue. Conversely, if only one review makes an egregious comment and the rest do not, it’s possible the negative review is an outlier.
The Right Location
This is directed at companies with multiple branches. If you’re reading reviews for a major corporation, it’s important to keep in mind that employee experiences can vary greatly depending on location. For example, a company with branches in England and the USA could have a slew of wildly different reviews--and both could be equally valid. Because of this, it’s important to focus your research on reviews in or near the branch you’re applying.
The Right Company
Before you get too attached or disappointed by a company’s reviews, make sure you’re looking at the right one. Company names aren’t always unique. In fact, some names are shared by hundreds of completely different businesses. For example, a search for companies named “Omni” on Glassdoor yields more than 200 different results. Reviews for “Omni Financial” versus “Omni Financial Services” could present wildly different results.
This is again targeted at larger companies. If you’re reading reviews for a large corporation, be sure to put more weight into the reviews that directly involve your position and department. The way a corporation runs its HR department versus its sales department could be polar opposite. If you’re looking to become a system administrator, a positive review from someone in the maintenance department is much less relevant than one from the IT department.
Things change: people get fired, policies evolve, and departments can appear or dissolve over time. While it doesn't hurt to read every review, it’s much more important to consider recent reviews over ones from, say, 2013. Updated reviews will provide a more accurate representation of the company in its current state.
How important are company reviews in your job search? Let us know in the comments below!