You guys have it easy man. It’s never been so easy or so transparent for a candidate to pick and choose where they want to work and for what reasons. I have to use a cliche and say ‘knowledge is power‘ because there is just so much information out there for you to absorb, it’s almost like they are spoon feeding it to you. Understanding company review sites, how they work, and what they mean, can help you make smart, informed decisions in your career search.
Large organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions, to make themselves attractive to you, essentially delivering themselves to you on a silver spoon. Why do you think you want to work there in the first place? It’s because their Employer Brand team is making it look like a shiny, splashy, innovative and exciting place to work. There is a line out the door and around the corner for people who want to work at Amazon and Google, because they are always making the ‘Top Places to Work” lists and putting content out there that speaks to hungry and motivated individuals like yourself. I’ve interviewed so many people who’ve worked for some of these conglomerates and honestly, they are miserable. It’s not always a great place to work. It was so easy to recruit someone out of Amazon we nearly had contests to see how many we could pluck on any given week. I’m sure there are plenty of very happy teams there and they have little to no turnover. But pay attention to those company reviews and avoid the teams where the feedback is consistently negative. Some of the review sites request information on location, title, level, and location. It’ll be easy to filter down to the area of the business you are considering.
Read Between the Lines
It’s somewhat contradictory to say “use what’s out there” and then say it’s all a facade but there are plenty of opportunities for you to pick up some repetitive themes and feedback. This isn’t just true for the mega companies, it’s true for all. Some companies don’t do any recruitment marketing but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to work. However, even small to mid size companies are putting a lot of effort to make you want to work there. Read the reviews that are left out there for the public to consume.
Sites like The Muse, FairyGodBoss, Glassdoor, Indeed, Yelp, just to name a few all have review sections where real employees leave real feedback. You might be looking at identical job descriptions for “WOW! company” and “WHO? company”. “WOW” company might have all the colors, videos, content and a 3.4 out of 5 star rating and you would love to have it on your resume. “WHO?” company might have some good content but doesn’t have all the videos and splashy images or stories but they have a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. “WOW” has 25,000 employee reviews. “WHO?” has 500. You do the math.
I can almost guarantee you that the reason the smaller company you never heard of doesn’t have as much impact online as the other is because sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn charge a ridiculous amount of money with a variety of packages for companies to promote themselves on these sites. A full package at The Muse is 60k+. LinkedIn is about 85k+. That’s not chump change. That CPG company may have glowing reviews and lots of stars, but did you filter the results to your location? You may see a different story being told. The thing is that a big global company will have reviews from workers across the globe from Intern to HR to Executive to skilled labor. The best thing for you to do is determine what the most relative reviews for your purpose and pay attention to what they are saying.
What’s Important to You?
A great added bonus to taking the time to reviewing and understand company review sites is to weed out companies that either don’t share your values, or do not offer the kinds of benefits you need or expect. You will be able to browse some of the company offerings very easily before you even apply.
If a no working from home policy is a deal breaker for you, you’ll likely be able to read about the feedback from colleagues on the policy. Are affordable benefits top of your list? The benefits sections are some of the most popular places employees drop their opinion. 12 month parental leave? Every company with a sliver of a generous parental leave policy will take every opportunity to showcase it.
Information is an advantage
Other than deciding whether a company is a great place to work, it’s also an opportunity for you to use your findings during your interviews, especially when it comes to the dreaded “what questions do you have?” question. Are employees complaining about turnover? Ask why, the reason may be surprising. Did a number of people mention poor benefits? Perhaps they’ve identified a new healthcare provider to solve the problem. Did you read an article about a scandal at the business? What did they learn from it? How did it impact morale? Asking good questions is an element of a successful, impactful, interview.
Understanding company review sites can be a hugely beneficial secret weapon to use in your career search arsenal. I highly recommend taking the time to read and acknowledge the pros and cons of any company you are considering and do a thorough search on repetitive trends or red flag. There is nothing worse than excitedly starting a new job only to realize the company is a disaster. Do you research and save yourself a world of hurt. The extra effort will prove to pay off endlessly.