The Disturbing Influence of Glassdoor

Last night a colleague went to Boston University to do a focus group on how undergraduate computer science majors perceive various aspects of a company’s employer brand. The results were quite interesting…

What Went Down
A software engineering job posting at a local company founded by some MIT folks was projected on a wall. Then, the speaker asked: “How many of you would apply to work here?” More than a quarter of the students in the room raised their hands.

Next, he showed this company’s Glassdoor page for 1 minute. In a quick scan, the students could see a rating below 3.0 and limited, or lame, reviews. Then the presenter asked again: “Now, how many of you would apply?”

Not a single hand went up!

“Why not?,” he asked the millennial group. Some of their answers were“It’s not worth my time to apply to this company,” “their best rating is a 4-star review that I don’t even believe,” “all I know is that this isn’t a great place to work, why would I apply?”

This is happening every single day to companies who aren’t managing their employer brand.

Ratings And Rankings: How It All Adds Up

The average Glassdoor rating is 3.2. That probably doesn’t seem half bad until that rating is the reason why you’re nauseous in the backseat watching a batshit-crazy Uber driver, bob and weave through heavy traffic.

Think about it. You wouldn’t get in the car (in fact, if they are below a 4.6 they are gone anyways). You wouldn’t eat at that restaurant. You would check the reviews and pick an alternative. That’s what candidates are thinking, too. They don’t want to apply unless you give them a reason to think they should. Being average isn’t good enough.

Of course, we know that 1/3 of people leave negative reviews for a company they leave, and, therefore, Glassdoor is negatively biased.1 Ask anyone you work with; they will tell you they take Glassdoor with a grain of salt. “It’s like Yelp.”

Take Note
Companies need to pay attention to Glassdoor – but the real lesson is that your broader online brand is important. We’ve all heard how candidates are now “job shoppers.” But, very few companies have actually worked to build proactively an employer brand. Bottom line: Don’t let your worst employees define your brand?

The top brands (Google, McKinsey, Goldman, etc.) spend millions each year on their employer brands. And here’s a hint, in case you haven’t caught on: they aren’t doing this because there is a low ROI. If Google needs to spend time and resources building their brand, do you think you can get away with simply spending more on Indeed postings?

Remember how no one wanted to apply to the test company once they saw the Glassdoor rating? Take a step back – remember that only 25% wanted to apply based on the job description – and this isn’t top talent. This is for undergrads who don’t have any experience!

Be proactive. This is costing your business every single day1. Stop the bleeding and start reaping the rewards the best companies do from attracting the very best candidates. Get your best employees out there as ambassadors. Create interesting content and make sure it lives in the right places! You can start with a hashtag or a few Youtube videos. And, for companies beyond the startup phase, graduate to employer branding software that can scale.

Remember, the power of Glassdoor is that people trust people. High-level marketing influenced scripts, c-level execs talking about “innovation,” and cheesy background music just doesn’t cut it. Be authentic, own your brand, and get it out there!

This article was originally published on RecruitingTools.com

Phil Strazzulla

Founder at NextWave Hire
Phil is a founder of NextWave Hire.Previously, he was a VC at Bessemer, and has a MBA from Harvard, and studied finance at NYU.