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  3. Company reviews by employees: get to know the company you're applying to
Company reviews by employees: get to know the company you're applying to

Company reviews by employees: get to know the company you're applying to

Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina

  • What are employee-written company reviews?
  • What can you learn from company reviews by employees?
  • What company review websites should I use?
  • How to read employee-written reviews critically
  • Key takeaways

Don’t know if the job you’re applying to is on the level? Follow these tips on how to find and judge company reviews by employees.

Concerned you’re not a good fit for the company you’re applying to? Worried you might find out too late that they treat employees badly? Well, there are ways to find out in advance! Get to know the company you’re applying to by looking up company reviews written by employees who work there — or who used to work there. These employee reviews need to be read critically but are a good way to make sure you don’t chase after the wrong jobs or wind up in a role you hate.

This article about company reviews by employees covers the following topics:

  • What employee-written company reviews can offer

  • Popular websites where employees post reviews

  • How to tell if employee-written reviews tell the truth

What are employee-written company reviews?

As the term suggests, employee-written company reviews describe how a company functions “behind the scenes” and are written by people who’ve actually worked there. Unlike official company websites, which mostly only show the best sides of a company, employee-written reviews, though, let you slip past a business’s self-promotion and figure out if the job you’re seeking really is right for you.

If you’re searching for a new job and find a company with an opening that sounds perfect, look up some employee-written reviews before applying to it. Best-case scenario, the reviews will confirm all the good points listed in the job’s profile. Worst-case scenario, you’ll spot some red flags and realize the company is a toxic, stressful place to work. Outside of these extremes, you might realize that a workplace is good, but not right for you.

Useful, honest employee-written company reviews can guide you to job openings that will advance your career and steer you away from jobs that will be a dead end. Employee-written company reviews can also warn you about the stressful parts of an otherwise good job, giving you a chance to prepare for their challenges in advance or negotiate better working conditions with your future employer.

What can you learn from company reviews by employees?

If you want to learn more about a job opening’s official salary, weekly schedule, insurance policies, and so on, you can look all that up by reading the job’s profile page or emailing the company’s HR department. Employee-written company reviews, on the other hand, let you learn “off the books” truths about a company such as

  • The company’s culture. Is the environment friendly, frantic, quiet, toxic, etc.?

  • The company’s physical workplace. Is the office accessible, clean, cramped, etc.?

  • The company’s leadership culture. Are the managers friendly, supportive, harsh, manipulative, etc.?

  • Whether the company keeps promises. In other words, does it pay employees on time, fire employees for fair reasons, not force employees to work overtime, etc.?

  • Opportunities for advancements. Can promotions or raises be earned through good work or only come to people with connections, etc.?

Many company review websites also let employees rate the companies they work for (via star ratings, grade school ratings, scales of one to ten and so on). Compare employer ratings given by several employees, and you’ll learn which recruiters to follow up with and which jobs you should decline

What company review websites should I use?

There are lots of websites that let employees post anecdotes about the companies they worked for or used to work for. Each of these websites is especially popular and has its own distinct perks.

  • Glassdoor. One of the more well-known job review websites, its popularity gives job-seekers a large sample of employee perspectives they can use to evaluate certain companies.

  • Indeed. An aggregation website that copies and lists profiles and links for job openings, it has a company review feature that lets employees rate companies and list pros/cons.

  • Fairygodboss. A job review website made for female professionals and job-seekers, it is a good way to search for businesses that lack glass ceilings and treat women employees fairly.

  • Vault.com. A job review website with a section for reviewing businesses, internships, and academic workspaces, the Vault website also regularly conducts and posts surveys that rank the most popular and prestigious workspaces in certain industries.

  • Ivey Exec. A job website that focuses on reviewing executive, vice presidential, and directorial positions at certain companies, Ivey also hosts company profiles, online classes, and coaching services.

Most employee reviews on these job board websites are posted anonymously. This lets current employees criticize their companies without worrying about getting fired, but does make it harder to spot fake reviews or bad-faith attempts to tarnish a good company’s rep. Anonymous reviewers also tend to be more aggressive and negative in tone (no surprise for folks who’ve scanned anonymous comments on the internet)!

How to read employee-written reviews critically

The job profiles companies post can be biased. The same goes for reviews posted by their employees – maybe not because they’re liars, but because they can’t see everything that goes on at their workplace. If you’re looking through employee reviews to see if a company’s job opening is right for you, read those reviews critically – that is, analyze the consistency of the text and consider the motives of the person who wrote it.

First, examine the language of the text in an employee review. Are there grammar and spelling mistakes? Are the sentences long and hard to follow? Does the review fail to make concrete statements about why a company is good or bad? Any of these can be a sign that the employee review is spam, spiteful slander, or constructed by a chatbot.

Next, grab 5 to 10 individual employee reviews and compare them to each other. Do they offer the same praises? Do they make the same complaints? If you spot points of praise or criticism shared by multiple employee reviews, odds are good that this praise or critique is valid and worth considering.

Expert Tip

When you put together a sample set of employee-written company reviews, check each employee’s background to make sure their feedback is actually useful.

If an employee review is several years old, for example, the information they offer might be out of date. Additionally, an employee’s perspective might not be as useful if they worked at a job in a new city or different department from the one with the job you’re seeking.

For more tips on how to find the right job, check out Career.io’s Job Search strategy page.

Key takeaways

  1. Employee-written company reviews are posted on job board websites and are written by professionals who work or have worked at the company.

  2. Employee-written company reviews are a great way to learn about a company’s workplace and how they actually treat employees.

  3. Many employee-written company reviews are posted anonymously, which protects them from backlash but makes them harder to fact-check.

  4. Compare employee-written reviews from several different review websites to make sure they’re telling the truth.

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