How to Make Glassdoor Work For You

Zach Brooke
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways

What? ​ Glassdoor is a top employer-review site that allows users to research other companies and evaluate their own.

So what? Sites like Glassdoor allow employees to benchmark conditions at their office against competitors and anonymously communicate their feelings about their workplace.

Now what? Learn to parse the data on Glassdoor to gain leverage in negotiations and further your career.

June 1, 2017

The employer review site offers a window into other companies while allowing users to sound off on their own

Few innovations have taken as much guesswork out of job searching as Glassdoor. For nine years, the employer-review site has provided a window to the world of startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Employers and employees view public feedback left on the site as a near real-time evaluation of morale and working conditions. Lately, researchers have jumped on the bandwagon, too.

Studies using Glassdoor data have found links between poorly 
rated companies and corporate fraud, and in-house research has confirmed the existence of a gender pay gap and the impact of college 
major on perpetuating said gap. 

Marketing News spoke to Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor’s director of corporate communications, about site features and getting the most out of 
your Glassdoor experience. 

Q: What’s fair game when you are reviewing an employer?

A: First of all, let me just set the scene. Unlike other companies, on Glassdoor we require people to give a full picture of what it’s really like to work at a company, which means they have to enter pros and cons. No workplace, just like no relationship, no apartment, nor any bike is perfect. There are always areas where things are going well and areas that need improvement. 

Every review goes through a robust review process. We take our data integrity incredibly seriously. What I mean by that is when people share a review, it goes through both a technological review and a human touch review. We have a real team of human moderators read reviews.

We want to empower employees to leave constructive reviews that are helpful to others to get a good look at what it is like to work at a company. People are empowered to leave their opinions, period. You can talk about what you think of the CEO. You can talk about what you think of your team, the work, the hours. You can talk about the commute. You can talk about things that you don’t like or need improvement, and you must give your opinion. What you’re not allowed to do is reveal facts about a company’s product roadmap. You cannot state things that are not true. You can state opinions. You can call out your CEO by name, or other public-facing executives. You cannot call out Sally in the next cubicle and talk negatively about her. We believe that goes beyond helping somebody find a job or company.   

Q: How do you put the ratings in perspective?

A: We want to empower our users to do the research and determine for themselves. If you work at a company with a 2.0 rating, then a 3.5 company may be really good. But if you work at a 4.3 and then you go to a 3.5 company, you may view that as bad. For some perspective, of the 700,000 companies that are featured on Glassdoor with content, the average company is a 3.3. 

You should read reviews and determine for yourself. See what people have to say about it. It’s not just a rating alone, which is why people need to write a review when rating a company. We find that most Glassdoor readers form opinions after reading about six to seven reviews. 

Q: Some companies that are huge have hundreds of reviews. Smaller companies might only have a handful. What do you think is a good sample size to get a sense of what a company is actually like?

A: There isn’t a do-or-die algorithm. It depends on everyone. However, if you are applying to a very large company, it could be helpful to expect and see more reviews, obviously. And actually small and medium-size businesses with fewer than 1,000 employers make up more than half of all employers in the U.S. labor economy. If you see 10 reviews at a company, but they only have 500 employees, that may be enough for you to get a sense of what it’s like to work there.  

The reviews on Glassdoor are a great added data point to really understand the company, but it shouldn’t end there. You should also be reaching out to friends, family, coworkers and people on social networks who work at the company to get greater insights. 

Q: What about people who are not actively looking for new jobs? What is their incentive to review their employer on Glassdoor?

A: The incentive for them is to get unlimited access to Glassdoor. We have what we call a give-to-get model, which means we ask our users to share a review or one piece of content, like a salary report, once a year. We believe that’s a fair ask. Even if you’re happily employed, when you want to go for salary negotiations, you should be using a site like Glassdoor to see what fair market pay is for your title, years of experience and where you live. You should use a tool like Know Your Worth, which allows you to calculate what you should be earning based on where you live, your employer, years of experience, your title and specialty. 

Workplace transparency is only going to increase. You’re helping others find a job that could be the right fit for them and you’re actually giving feedback to your employer. We have tens of thousands of employers who use our free employer account as an added data point to help them understand near real-time employee feedback at organizations. We hear from Salesforce, Facebook, Starbucks and a bunch of other companies across all industries that they use Glassdoor to gauge real-time sentiment. 

Q: Are there commonalities among the best employers or the worst employers in terms of what comes up during reviews?

A: Yes, there is. Each year we publish a list of the best places to work according to employees themselves. When we analyze this, the common themes among the best places to work are very clear. No. 1, what employees love about working at these very highly rated companies is that there is a mission-driven company culture. That means decisions they make, improvements they make, things that they want to do that help the business are all aligned to the mission. That makes people understand why they are doing what they are doing and that’s empowering. 

No. 2, people love working at companies with [further] career opportunities. Not only does it mean you like the job, but it means that if you want to stay with the company, there is actually a clear path for career opportunities. That’s great. It means you can go on to learn new skills, you can get promoted and you can bolster your salary, too. 

The third thing that really resonates in terms of a theme among highly rated companies is people love working for employers where senior leaders are clearly communicating to their workforces in the short term and the long term. That often means they are finding ways that cross time zones or markets. 

What resonates at lower-rated companies is the exact inverse. People are often working for companies where they just don’t know what the point is, the company changes its mission or its focus every day. They feel like there’s a lack of career opportunities and career growth, so they feel stuck. They are not hearing from anyone on what the vision is, so they don’t really know why they’re doing what they’re doing. 

Q: Is it dangerous to log-in to Glassdoor and just check out salaries for a position without looking at anything else? Do jobseekers focus solely on salaries at their peril?

A: No, the No. 1 reason people visit us is to search for the latest jobs. The next two reasons are to research salaries, followed by company research—what it’s really like to work there. It’s not a bad thing for anyone to come to Glassdoor just to research salaries. What we don’t recommend is applying to a job purely based on salary. In fact, the research shows that salary is a leading factor that people consider before determining where to work, but is actually not a leading factor when it comes to what keeps them engaged and satisfied in the long term.

Q: Any recommended do’s and don’ts for leaving a review?

A: In terms of the do’s, give a full picture of what’s working well and what needs improvement. Make your review current. Give people a fresh perspective on what it’s like to work there right now. Talk about some of your favorite moments. Give concrete examples; people love that. Be specific in your role.

Q: Glassdoor also posts open jobs. How does the aggregator work? Are these jobs only available through Glassdoor?

A: We do feature all of the available online jobs now. Here in U.S., there are just over 5 million, and that’s consistent with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out. Yes, there is still a small percentage of jobs [posted by] people who will put “help wanted” signs in the window of their businesses. We have the same jobs as other major job sites. It’s the same technology for how we get them. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Indeed, we’re able to work with employers or scrape job sites and use various feeds. 

Q: Is there any special bonus to job searching through Glassdoor?

A: Yes. Unlike job boards, we feature a split view of our jobs. Data has shown us that jobseekers find this more engaging. On the left-hand side, you’ll see all of the latest jobs, one on top of another. You’ll even see all of the estimated salaries for each job, which no other site offers. On the right-hand side, you’ll see the job description with all of our great employee-generated content underneath. So you can instantly read reviews from employees at the company.

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Author Bio:
Zach Brooke
Zach Brooke is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @Zach_Brooke.
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