Update: Check out these new tips on how to use Glassdoor in your job hunt for that new exciting role you want.
You’ve probably heard by now of Glassdoor, an anonymous online review site that allows workers to evaluate and rate their employers. You may have also encountered some advice online or elsewhere advising you to approach the site and others like it with caution.
So if you’re a marketer, should you let Glassdoor review influence your ultimate decision to take a new marketing job?
The short answer is; Yes, absolutely! Choices like this shouldn’t be made lightly, and you should be taking advantage of every tool available to determine if this career move is right for you. You wouldn’t want to end up in a work environment where you’re unhappy. And you likewise wouldn’t want to miss out on a great opportunity to work somewhere that would be an excellent fit for you.
Glassdoor is one of many tools you can leverage to consider the viability of a career move when you’re approached by marketing employment agencies. But like many other resources available for free online, you should use it wisely and only as one component of your decision.
The Power–and Danger–of Anonymous Review Sites
Anonymous review sites like Glassdoor have empowered employees and consumers to hold organizations accountable and call out low-quality experiences while rewarding those who do it right. After all, who hasn’t avoided a restaurant after seeing a low score on Yelp, or been motivated to make a spontaneous purchase by a flawless Amazon review?
Unfortunately, anonymity comes with a distinct lack of accountability. When there’s no accountability, there’s an environment open to exploitation. It would be incredibly easy for a bad employee who was terminated or an individual with a vendetta against the company to leave a sketchy and entirely fabricated review. Similarly, it’s entirely possible for an unethical company to make up positive reviews. And unfortunately, there’s very little Glassdoor can do to filter the garbage out from honest, useful reviews.
It’s up to you, as a reader, to determine what’s reliable and what’s not. Use your instinct and your experience in the field to pick out reviews that are giving specific, meaningful feedback about relevant topics. If something stands out as being improbably positive or negative, it’s probably an outlier that you can overlook. You can also ask your marketing recruitment partner about reviews that stand out and get their perspective. But if you see a common pattern among a lot of people over a long period of time, then there’s probably something there worth paying attention to.
Don’t Reject an Opportunity Entirely Based On Glassdoor Reviews
Perhaps the best and most important advice we can give concerning Glassdoor is to not let it prevent you from learning more about a marketing job opportunity. Too many candidates refuse to even hold a preliminary discussion or initial interview because of a bad review they read.
That’s a huge mistake. Rejecting the chance to learn more about a position and get a firsthand perspective on the company because of an anonymous review is shortsighted if you’re serious about growing your career. At the very least, you should always take advantage of the opportunity to confirm what you read on the site. Remember, it’s even appropriate to ask a company directly about concerning Glassdoor reviews and get their perspective on the subject. Its also appropriate to confirm the contents of the job description to ensure the role is right for you.
Update: How to Find the REAL Job Description of the Marketing Gig You Think You Want
Anyone who’s looked for job opportunities has seen job descriptions of all kinds. Part of the reasoning of leaning on Glassdoor for reviews is to have a sense of what the job role actually entails from previous or current employees. Some job descriptions are brief, some are elaborate. Some descriptive, some vague, some honest, some hyperbolic. But regardless of what the description contains, many of them don’t accurately reflect the reality of the day-to-day requirements and expectations of the role. Marketers who want to find the right job and avoid landing in a position they hadn’t signed up for need to go the extra mile to find the true job description. Click here to learn the secret of finding the real job description.
Update: The 10 Top Marketing Jobs for Work-Life Balance
Another reason for leaning on Glassdoor is to find out how a new role can fit into your life. One of the most important parts of thriving in a job you love is working somewhere with good work-life balance. Even people who truly love their job need plenty of time to pursue personal passions and spend time with people they love. Luckily for marketers, there are plenty of career paths that lead to jobs with strong work-life balance. Glassdoor released a list of the top 25 best jobs for work life balance based on feedback from its users. And marketers should be excited to find that many marketing and digital staffing roles (10 out of the top 25) made their way onto the list. Find out here if the new role you want will fit into your life.
Look Beyond the Raw Score
Glassdoor’s most visible metric for ranking employers is a simple five-star scale. That can give you a rough indication of how workers feel, but that might not be useful if your personal preferences and interests are different from most others.
However, the company also has a handy feature that will sift through the reviews and pluck out the most common complaints and praises.
For instance, consider a company where a common complaint is that base salaries are very low because compensation is centered around commission. For some people, that could be a huge mark against the business. But if you’re an experienced and successful salesperson, then you might actually prefer this compensation model.
Similarly, you might be someone who craves active, hands-on training and professional development. If that’s the case, then you might want to consider a company where employees frequently praise its commitment to training–even if its other reviews aren’t so positive.
Keep the Position’s Place in the Business Structure in Mind
For instance, if the position you’re considering relies on a large amount of low-wage retail workers or call center agents, then you shouldn’t be surprised to see a large amount of compensation complaints from entry-level workers. Those complaints may be entirely valid–but they’re also not immediately applicable to a management position in the marketing department of that company’s corporate HQ.
A great example of this is Walmart. On Glassdoor, by far the majority of reviews come from individuals with a “Sales Associate” title. If you’ve ever worked in retail or customer service, it probably won’t surprise you to find that most people aren’t wild about the job; they give their employer a middling review of just 3 stars overall.
Screenshot taken 8/18/16. Results may have changed since.
Not awful, but perhaps not very enticing to someone considering taking a risk on a new job. However, you get a slightly different picture if you filter by employees with “marketing” in their title:
Screenshot taken 8/18/16. Results may have changed since.
A much more favorable outlook for anyone who’s pondering a move into the corporation’s marketing department. .8 stars might not sound like much, but that’s quite substantial on a 1-5 scale! Of course, it’s still up to you to decide if you’d want to work somewhere that many lower-level employees aren’t very happy with their jobs. But the understanding of the context of your own role will give you a better understanding of what your actual work environment would be like.