Glassdoor Giveth … and Glassdoor Taketh Away

I’m a big believer in transparency. I think it’s a good thing that people (myself included) get a chance to look behind the curtains before joining a company and come into a situation educated. And it’s really great when you have a sparkling reputation online that’ll get you a chance with candidates you’d otherwise have a hard time recruiting. It’s definitively less pleasant when you get rocked by a bad or inaccurate review.

Dealing with it from the other side has been a learning experience. When your reviews are rougher than deserved, inaccurate, or take pot shots at executives for making decisions for the business … what do you do without exacerbating the situation by coming off defensive online? Here are some tips:

  • Be reflective. Take it in and realize that there is likely something you can learn from the review. Look for trends in the response – even if you think they are inaccurate. What opportunities for improvement do you see? Are there echoes of things you are hearing in exit interviews or internal engagement checks? Start asking your culture ambassadors their thoughts on what’s coming up on Glassdoor and if there are things you can do to address them.
  • Be honest. If there are nuggets of truth in there, don’t run from them. Acknowledge that you can see where the perception is coming from and talk about what you are doing to address them. You don’t need to dignify the exaggerations with acknowledgements, but if you want to address them, do so carefully. Instead of stating their review is inaccurate, consider talking about what your intent was behind the policy or action they are contesting. If you’ve had other people receive it the way it was intended, or have seen a positive impact from it, it’s ok to say so.
  • Have others review your response. Be aware that neutral candidates – and even your current employees – aren’t going to be reading with full context and will read their own tone into your response. Channel your inner diplomat and remove emotions from your response. You don’t want to come across as defensive, rigid, aggressive, irritated, etc. Pick people you know have the guts to give you honest feedback on tone and content. If you can’t remove the emotion, consider skipping out on a response or waiting until it clears before responding.
  • Do something about it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat. There is one really, really good way to change the tone on Glassdoor and improve your chances at recruiting the best talent: be a great place to work. It takes an openness to hear about the warts and start to address them. Then it takes a consistent and good faith effort to fix the things that are driving people away. It’s not easy, but it’s doable to turn the tide. Commit to and deliver a great experience.

There are some definitive don’ts as well. Don’t pressure others to write inaccurate or glowing reviews. It’s going to backfire. Don’t get into the specifics surrounding the presumed poster’s departure. Perhaps they were fired for cause and a terrible culture fit, but there is really no upside to bringing that up online. Most readers take highly negative reviews with a grain of salt and are more curious to see how companies address it. Plus, you don’t want to open yourself up to any liability.

All in all, I’m still learning and would love any helpful tips you have, but I think if you are open, honest and try to take the high road, you are in a good position.




Poached from Marketing. Tailoring your message to your audience.

I am thoroughly intrigued by what HR can learn and apply from marketing concepts and best practices. I was fortunate to spend most of my tenure at a tech company sitting with or near the marketing team, which afforded me the chance to creepily eavesdrop on their conversations and debates. I have spent many quiet moments thinking about what they do and I’m dying for the chance to experiment.

One concept our team in charge of converting website clicks to a trial or demo of our software (a huge metric in the software world) used is targeted messaging and landing pages. Depending on how you came into the website or the data you gave us, we’d direct you to a landing page and/or send a message tailored to answer the questions we thought you had, the features we thought you’d be interested in, and, potentially, a call to action tailored to you. All of this was driven by data. Cold. Hard. Impersonal. Data. And it was constantly being tested to improve conversion.

I’ve always been curious how to leverage this concept to help improve the recruitment process. Some ideas:

Job ads: I think it’s silly to see an ad touting the beer fridge and foosball table for a VP-level position because that’s really not what interests most VPs in an job opportunity. Target your message to the type of candidate you want. When you are crafting it, talk to people in similar positions within the organization and ask about what most caught their eye about the company, what benefits and perks mean the most to them, and what they most love now about the opportunity that they didn’t know coming in.

Leverage that information. You may end up with an entry-level ad that touts a great starting salary, office perks, the focus on individual career growth, and is written in a more playful tone. Your VP-level ad may instead highlight the specifics of the business problem they will be taking on, the impact it will have on the organization, autonomy, budget allocation, and talk about the 401(k) match and flexible working arrangements.

As you interview candidates, ask them what has piqued their interest about the role and incorporate or use to clarify your job ad if you feel you are missing something important.

Careers Page: A/B* test different ways of laying out your careers page. Chances are that you won’t have the resources (or web traffic) to do this as well as marketing does, so make due with what you have. Have two ideas fairly flushed out and ask your current employees what they’d be more excited to share with their network, or what they’d opt to click into if looking for a job.

You need to understand if your careers page is encouraging people to interact further with your company. In an ideal world where HR budget was infinite, it’d be great to see if certain quotes, benefits, pictures or videos increased interaction with your guests. In short, what you are trying to do is iterate to speak to what your visitors are most interested in and, ultimately, get good candidates to submit an application. Use whatever data you can to help tweak what you have.

Targeted Landing Pages: Combine the above two. I realize this is well outside of the reach of most HR teams on resource allowances alone. And frankly, only makes sense for really large companies needing to constantly fill similar roles. But, it intrigues me nonetheless.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you have someone click into a specific job ad (or come in through a specific job board), to drive them to a page with a picture, quote, video and highlights of the job and its benefits specifically tailored to what that demographic wants to know? Ok, yes, a little creepy in some ways, but also incredibly effective.

There is something really powerful about understanding your audience, what they are most concerned about, and making sure that message comes through loud and clear to sell the opportunity you offer. The less time candidates need to spend assessing your job before deciding to apply, the more effective the process is – particularly when you are competing heavily for their services. Listen to your employees about what the best part of the job is. Listen to your candidates about the most appealing aspects. And use that information to hone your message.

One last really important thing – resist the urge to dance around the truth or tell candidates only what they want to hear. It may get them in the door. It may even get them hired, but you are hurting yourself in the end for three big reasons. You’ve just eroded trust in HR/leadership by misleading them. You may not get the right fit for your job (i.e. someone who isn’t good in a turn-around situation is hired to right the ship in a department). And you’ll be hurting your chances at retaining people because of the first two. Be honest. It pays off in the end.

*A/B testing is when you mock up two options, send a portion of your audience to each, and see what behaviors occur. Is one converting people better? Are you able to get more emails from prospects from another? Are people closing the window at a higher rate?