One of the lines on a typical “Is your website Web2.0?” Cosmo Quiz seems to be “Does it let you rate stuff?” Because of this, there is no shortage of things to slap 1-5 stars on. This includes things like books, movies, amateur videos, photographs, and games, but it also includes people like teachers, politicians, online vendors, businesses, and plumbers. I was not therefore too surprised to come across this article on Businesspundet.com dealing with websites that let you review companies as employers. Examples cited include jobvent.com, vault.com, and glassdoor.com though I’m sure there are lots more.
This seems to be the natural flipside of employERS searching the web for dirt on prospective employEES (which I’ve written about, too), but honestly it strikes me as just as bad an idea. There are many problems with these kinds of sites, not the least of which is about an extreme a case of selection bias as you could imagine. I doubt many people, corporate shills aside, go on these sites to sing the praises of their medical insurance or flexible work hours or whatever else it is that they like. Instead, you’re going to get mostly disgruntled folks with a bone to pick. A casual perusal of the reviews does seem to show that there are a lot more negative ones than positive ones.
Furthermore, these sites seem like they would be susceptible to acts of systematic sabotage and character assassination on the part of less scrupulous union employees during a contract negotiation, non-survivors of layoffs, or even disgruntled customers displeased with their level of customer service. I’m not sure anybody is establishing the veracity of these reviews (indeed, the whole allure of this kind of business model is free or nearly free content from users), and it’s not so much that the crowd is bereft of wisdom as it is that the crowd is quite wise but it’s purposely trying to push its own agenda.
It strikes me that there are better ways to go about getting information on a company. Research professional surveys about working conditions, look at salary surveys, read available articles about them, and if all else fails talk to the people who work there. Ask the interview team for references of people you can talk to. Do your own research.