I separate employee reviews on any platform as the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good is obviously anything great they have to say about the company, from career growth to good benefits.
The bad can be considered any major growing pains the company may be having. These issues are not necessarily things that would make you not apply, only things that would make you do more research before applying. This can include but is not limited to: recent acquisitions and corporate restructuring that is necessarily favorable to the company. As some acquisitions and corporate restructuring can be favorable to companies, creating more opportunities for you as a potential employee.
The ugly is anything negative employees have to say. These are things that would make you not apply at all. This can include but is not limited to: no growth opportunities and horrible pay.
If you’ve read company reviews you can tell that there are instances when some of the reviews come from a really horrible place. You might read a review and see that an employee has let too much loose or may be mad for another reason entirely.
Here are the quickest ways to decipher the good, the bad and the ugly:
Review the “Advice to Management” section
Always pay close attention to the “Advice to Management” section. It should be the first section you review. You want to know the type of people you will possibly be working for or with. If numerous employees are talking about the same issues this could be a red flag.
For example things like: no leadership, poor management, disrespectful management staff—these are all troubling issues. If these things do exist this could mean that structurally the company isn’t doing well.
If you are going for a management role, this could trickle up to you. Or this may not be a bad thing, as maybe you can help restructure the company. However, you’d just have to find out if the company is actually open to it.
Look for employee reviews who have a similar role
When you are looking at reviews you should make sure you read at least 2-3 reviews of people who have had the role that you are going for, or a similar role. The reason for this is because you can see whether or not there are growth opportunities specific to your role.
If you are in the technology industry, you know that it is always changing. So you don’t want to get stuck at a company that does not keep up with the industry. Simply because your skills will be dated by the time you leave.
For example, if you see an employer still using a wang computer system with 4kb ram of memory and cassette tape storage, this should be a red flag.
If you are truly interested in the company you could try to find out if they are open to advancing their technology. During your interview you could create a case for it and offer to help.
Pay attention to when the reviews were written
I’m a firm believer that organizations can change for good (if they want to). When you see tons of negative reviews, you should note the dates and lapses in time frames.
It is not to say that a review from 6 years ago should be completely discarded. However, you want to make sure that the most recent reviews mention more positive things as opposed to 6 years ago.
It is quite possible that with exit interviews and general employee concerns over the years, a company who wants to put their employees first will and may have made improvements. Obviously things will not get changed overnight.
Pay attention to companies that actually respond to reviews
Now I’m not saying that just because a company responds to a Glassdoor review, it’s the best place to work at. I’m simply saying in a very large way, it shows that they do care about how employees view their company. It shows that they understand brand reputation isn’t just about producing a good product; it’s also about the people behind the brand.
Obviously they can’t comment on every single thing, but you want to see a few responses. While some responses are fluff, I’ve seen others where companies take responsibility for issues and advise from what they are working on and what they’ve already worked on; as well as mentioning if they feel there is a discrepancy.
When reading online reviews for anything you have to find your equal medium. Make the best decision possible and then work from there. No matter what you choose, there is no right or wrong, only a lesson learned for next time. As each job teaches you something new about yourself.