If we were on a trip visiting a new city and I asked you to pick a bar, restaurant, or tour company, what would you do? More than likely you’d slip your phone out of your pocket and launch the Yelp! app. And if I asked you to the movies, you’d assuredly check Rotten Tomatoes before agreeing to meet me for Vin and Dwayne’s latest installment Fast and the Furious. (No judgment if you decide not to go.)
With the dominance of sites like Yelp! and Rotten Tomatoes, it seems we’ve fully embraced the culture of ratings and reviews. So it’s no wonder that this culture of rating and reviewing has moved into the job search world as well.
Most prominent amongst these sites is Glassdoor, a company which has raised a couple hundred million dollars in its meteoric rise to the top of the category. Moreover, it is rapidly becoming an integral part of the job search process. Regardless of how someone ends up finding an open position, whether it’s Glassdoor or one of the other myriad job-search sites, they’ll likely check a company’s reviews on Glassdoor before deciding to proceed with an application, or, at the very least, when weighing a job offer.
Despite wanting to sort out obviously bad places to work, ie, places with dozens of one and two-star reviews or lower-than-average wages, potential employees are also trying to sniff out other things like corporate culture fit as well as how the company is faring with profits or its product offerings. This desire for valuable insider-information has spurred on other sites offering similar data, like Indeed, Vault, Kununu, Comparably, and more.
What does this mean for employers?
Reviews can run the gamut from glowing to hilariously vicious, as you might have come to expect with Yelp! ratings. And yes, of course, these sites are aiming to make money by getting companies to actively manage their business listings and promote job offers on their sites. In researching this article, I found that this business model, much derided by opponents of Yelp!, left some organizations to ignore ratings on the platform in an effort to not “play along.”
However, I believe this is folly. Regardless of your faith in these review sites’ intentions, they are offering a product that job-seekers desperately want – and now that it’s here, it’s never going to go away. Choosing a job is a lot like agreeing to be in a long-term relationship after just a couple of dates – dates where, of course, the other person is on their absolute best behavior. Until sites like Glassdoor appeared, it’s basically been an act of faith. So it’s natural that job hunters want to do as much due diligence as possible.
This means that keeping track of your company’s reviews is essential. And before you recoil at the prospect of fielding negative reviews, try to reframe your thinking. It can be quite revealing to read through reviews and contrast them with what your company aspires to be with regard to corporate culture. Reviews may either affirm those things your company purports to hold dear or show that there is a big gap between an organization’s perceived and actual self.
Moreover, it may help you pinpoint areas for improvement within particular departments. If you find most of your complaints come from engineering or sales, then it’s probably time for some investigation. Addressing these concerns will likely benefit you internally with employee satisfaction, along with helping your recruiting efforts by increasing the likelihood of positive reviews.
Inevitably though, you’ll have to address poor reviews and in doing so, try to represent your company’s culture through open acceptance of feedback. As we’ve already said, no response isn’t an option – it just makes it look like you don’t care. When a bad review does come in, there are two other things you shouldn’t do. One, do not react emotionally or move to discredit everything written, no matter how bad. You don’t want to come off as defensive, condescending, belittling, or passive-aggressive. If someone complains about lack of work-life balance, don’t respond with, sorry you felt this way, but not everyone can hack it here – A Players only. Number two, don’t offer a stock response to all negative reviews, something along the lines of, we take all feedback seriously, please reach out to HR so we can look into your situation further. Ninety-nine percent of posters will not respond to this, and people looking through your company’s reviews will think someone was simply tasked with copying-and-pasting replies to make it appear like they actually care.
Again, take a moment to tease out any pearls of truth and try to take those to heart. Then, write a unique response that addresses the concerns of the review and displays thoughtfulness. On average, employees value transparency, honesty, and authenticity above all. Show that you uphold these values in your company and you’ll do more to garner job seekers’ respect than you know.
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