Employer reviews and employee review sites are an invaluable resource for job-seekers.
If you’re looking for a job and wondering what it’s like to work at a prospective company, you should take advantage of all the places online where you can hear from employees leaving user reviews of their workplaces. Gone are the days when you only heard a one-way message from the employers themselves within employee performance reviews.
Of course, if you have a personal connection with someone you trust who works at a company, you might wonder whether you still need to look at employee reviews. The answer may be personal and depending on the relationship you have with this contact, but at the same time, it can't hurt to get a sense of what others say. If for no other reason than to assess morale and the overall feeling of others you'll be working with, it's helpful to get a sense of what other people are saying. Moreover, there are certain situations where your contact may know less about what it's like to work in a particular department or within a certain functional area and a job review can help you fill out missing details from a single third-person account. (In the case of Fairygodboss, you may want to hear from a particular group of people specifically, e.g. women or other minority groups of employees).
Regardless of how extensively you rely on employee reviews, job reviews are clearly a win for employees who are trying to understand an employer’s culture, employer brand, whether their compensation and pay are fair, and learn about human resources benefits and company policies. We believe in transparency at Fairygodboss, and believe that job candidates should do their part before entering an employer-employee relationship by doing their homework.
You may be thinking to yourself that since a job review from an employee is anonymous, perhaps it isn't trustworthy. Certainly, there's no way to verify the identities of people on employee review sites and how credible individual job reviews are. Employer review websites may not be perfect but if a website employes a human-review process for a user-generated content and their process for content moderation and evaluation is rigorous, fake reviews will be rare.
Another reaction you may intuitively have about employee review sites is that the human resources department must frown upon using them. However, that's probably no longer the case at a majority of companies. The HR department has gotten used to the fact that they cannot control what employees say online about their jobs (whether through employee review site or simply on their social media profiles or personal blogs). Some HR professionals even appreciate the transparency in helping their employer brand or to receive employee feedback that's candid.
Ultimately, the power of information on the internet allows employees to understand what they’re getting into when they are applying for employment at a new firm, interviewing and accepting a job offer. Job seekers should use all available resources in order to make decisions about where they will find the best job-fit.
First, take a look at the reviews available on Fairygodboss, where we aggregate women's opinions and workplace experiences like so:
Overall Company Reviews. In addition to aggregating female employees' overall job satisfaction levels, we provide a summary of whether women think their company treats men and women equally and fairly at work, and whether they would recommend their employer to other women.
- Actual Salaries by job and industry. Unlike some review sites, Fairygodboss does not ask for a specific number when it comes to compensation. However, we do ask job review providers to associate their review with a salary range so as to help provide contextual information about yourselt to someone reading your review. While this runs the risk of compromising anonymity, so does asking for a specific compensation data point since your salary or bonus may be relatively unique.
- Parental Leave Guide by Company. We try to help parents-to-be understand not only what maternity and paternity leave policies may be at an employer but whether it is really socially acceptable at a company for an employee to take their full allotment of leave, and whether doing so would jeopardize their career progression or stigmatize them as a less committed employee.
- Work-Life Balance Guide for those looking for a more flexible position. We believe that it's important to understand the flexibility of a job or employer and comments about the ability to work remotely, flexible and/or part-time are very important aspects of whether a job or company is desirable.
We would never suggest that any one site captures all the information you need if you're trying to conduct a thorough analysis of potential employers. To that end, if you're interested in other sources of job reviews, we've compiled a list of 11 additional places you can go to see free and anonymous employee reviews:
Glassdoor is probably the best known website for employees to leave reviews of employers. They have a huge number of people who rate their CEOs, and Glassdoor reviews provide open-ended pros and cons of working at those companies.
Best known for aggregating millions of jobs across the internet by scraping websites that list open positions, Indeed also provide job reviews where users rank their employers with according to a 5-star scale and list pros and cons.
Vault came into prominence with it’s industry rankings, that were based on employee survey answers. Currently, Vault will provide access to premium research offerings in exchange for employee reviews and their reviews require employees to leave “uppers” and “downers” as well as comments about their current or former employers.
CareerBliss is a career community that contains employee reviews that include a 5-star rating system, as well as scores for things like company culture, colleagues and working setting, among other things. They also allow for open-ended commentary.
Kununu is a job review and listings site that allows employees to rate their employer on a 1-5 scale overall, as well as on many other factors such as job-security or leadership support. They are fully integrated with Monster, one of the first major online job boards.
JobAdvisor is an Australian job listings site that also features employee reviews. Users rate their company on a scale of 1-5 and list pros and cons, as well as rate things such as “Vision & Strategy” and “Work Environment."
Ratemyemployer is a division of JobWings, a company based in Canada and focused on Canadian companies and employees. Employees may leave detailed 5-star ratings on a number of metrics ranging from “Stress” and “Business model, vision and strategy,” to “Feedback”.
The JobCrowd is a UK based employee review site focused on recent graduates. Their employee reviews allow employees to rate the company on a 5-star scale and includes the job title of the reviewer as well as answers to the questions “What are the best and worst things about your company?” and “What do you actually do on a day-to-day basis?”
LookBeforeYouLeap appears to be a pretty inactive employee review site, and in an unusual move, allows employees to “grade” their employer (A-F) and provide comments.
Comparably originally launched as a compensation data and culture platform and has recently launched employee reviews that allow employees to rate their employers on questions like “How would you rate your manager?” and “Do you look forward to interacting with your coworkers.”
Yelp is normally considered a restaurant or consumer business review site but employees are increasingly leaving reviews about their workplaces on the site. The reviews work in standard Yelp fashion and include a 5-star rating and comments. (To be clear, Yelp asks that employees of businesses do not leave reviews.)
The Context and Evolution of Employee Review Sites
Before the widespread availability of employee review sites, employee feedback was often relegated to the employee performance evaluation, employee self-evaluation forms, during the sporadic mid-year review or annual review. These days, however, employees also have the power to submit a performance appraisal... of the employer. Employee evaluations outside the control of the official channels can reveal useful information that may not otherwise come out during an annual employee review, even an anonymous one, for fear of being found out.
As the internet has increased the amount and dissemination paths of information overall, the workplace experiences that have previously been so cloaked and restricted to only the employees within a firm or a handful of recently departed works, have come to light. As a consequence, increasingly, the employee role is as a brand ambassador and representative of the company. Whether you perceive your role to be that or not, every employee now has the ability to make their voice heard and contribute to conversations around a company's culture, policies and benefits.
As an employee review site ourselves, Fairygodboss gets even more specific. We have decided to focus specifically and exclusively on the female experience in the workplace because we say that when no questions are asked, the experiences employees would volunteer would veer towards overall observations at the expense of some very important personal perspectives. That's why Fairygodboss has decided to steer clear of asking women the "pros" and "cons" of working somewhere. We have not done everything differently, just to be different for its own sake, however.
Since all employee review sites seem to use them, we have caved in to the pressure to rate employers on a 5-star system (though admittedly, our design employes wings, instead of stars). In most cases, the questions we ask of the women in our community are based on what women we've spoken to say are the topics they want to hear about from other women, in particular. There are plenty of sites where you can get a general sense of a company's culture. However, our questions about gender equality, what would cause women to stay at a company, and whether they would recommend the company to other women. These topics reflect the specificity we think women in the job-market really want to see.
How to Get the Most out of Employee Review Sites
Now that you're armed with a list of resources, how do you proceed to make the most of this information without suffering from information overload? For starters, don’t forget that what’s true off-line is true online as well. Different people can have very different opinions of the same situation and even identical managers, much less, the entire company, so it’s best to try to understand whose opinions you’re really getting and whether you believe their perspective would be similar to yours. Read more than just one or two reviews to make sure that you're getting a representative sense of what people say. While it may be tempting to simply read the most recent reviews, going back further in history will give you a sense of how a company has evolved.
- Pay attention to what you can learn about when an employee worked somewhere (e.g. a past employer may have biases against their former employer that a current employee does not have).
- Also, try to glean title, seniority, tenure and other aspects of the person whose job review are reading. Your goal is not to figure out the employee's name but to understand whether their experience would be more or less comparable to yours given the specific job you're looking for. This may mean you want to find out whether someone works in the particular office you are applying for a job in, or whether they work a comparable level of title to the one you would expect to receive. What you care about may be more identity driven. Is the reviewer another working mom, a minority, or someone who is otherwise under-represented in the workplace? Your identity does matter when it comes to whether you will experience the same conditions at work as those leaving job reviews.
Whatever job review site(s) you use, at the end of the day, the larger point is this: These days, there are many places you can discover what it’s like to work somewhere. Employers no longer have a monopoly on the information out there about work-life balance or information about employee engagement. Be sure to take advantage of the two-way conversation inherent in employee review sites when you’re doing your research with these 11 employee review sites.
About the Career Expert:
Fairygodboss is the largest online career community for women. Its editorial team is made up of career experts across industries and occupations with a love for sharing professional advice.