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4 Ways to Decode Glassdoor Reviews When Job Searching

4 Ways to Decode Glassdoor Reviews When Job Searching

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

More by this author

Aqueelah Emanuel

Founder of AQ's Corner

The top 5 things that should always be on a resume 8 Ways To Digital Job Search Like You Mean It 3 Quick Tips For Creating A Personal Brand Job Search Tools 4 Ways to Decode Glassdoor Reviews When Job Searching

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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