Compared to what?: the values (and dangers) of employer rating sites

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Way back in 1996, Vault launched. It was the granddaddy of all employer comparison sites. Then Glassdoor  launched in 2008 (along with the help of about $3M in pre-launch financing). By 2015, it had a valuation of roughly $1B (along with a total of $160M in investment), and was said to be pre-IPO (which it is to this day). Vault’s and Glassdoor’s innovation? Crowdsourced, anonymous reviews of employers, supplemented by salary information, photos, and – yes, indeed – job listings. In other words, it is actually a job board with ratings.

These sites paved the way for a new generation of employer rating and comparison sites – that inevitably monetize from job listings and employer ads. The inherent attractiveness of these sites for candidates is the promise they offer: an inside look into potential employers. Particularly if some or all of the content is user-generated, there is a certain level of authenticity that candidates seek out – and (sometimes) employers avoid. Let’s look at some of the sites out there that are competing against Glassdoor:

  • FairygodbossThis content-driven site focuses on the career life of women, with particular emphasis on benefits important to women, work-life balance, and salaries. It also has user-generated content for a Q&A area.
  • GreatPlaceToWork: This site actually pushes a specific certification for employers – and those that pass are ‘great places to work’, and can promote themselves as such. A bit of a racket (it can cost employers up to $7500 for certification), but the data is useful to candidates – and it put companies in an ‘apples to apples’ comparison framework.
  • InHerSightAnother site focused on working women. InHerSight includes user-submitted rankings, job matching, and a blog.
  • Kununu: This German-based site just launched in the U.S., and follows a familiar playbook: user-submitted company reviews, job listings, and the ability for an employer to ‘claim’ their profile.
  • TheJobCrowdThis UK-based site seems to focus on just-out-of-college candidates. It includes user-submitted company reviews – with some broken out by candidate reviewers who are apprentices – and of course jobs.
  • ComparablyWith that name, it pretty much had to be a ratings site, right? In addition to the ratings, it includes user-submitted salary info, which allows candidates to ‘see where they stand’.
  • And a few others: Indeed (yes, that Indeed) includes lots of user-generated company reviews; RateMyEmployer.ca is Canada-focused; JobAdvisor.au is Australian-focused; and Completed flips the script a bit and focuses on rating people instead of companies. Finally, there’s Ratedly, which is aimed at the employers; it allows them to monitor all of the bad (and good) stuff that is getting said on the above sites.

As with so many things in life, there is a downside to employer ratings (or probably your site would have some as well!). Just ask Glassdoor, which spent many dollars and hours defending its anonymous ratings system. They won – this time. But face it – employers in general don’t like any publicly available information about themselves that they don’t directly control; candidates do. So you just have to make a judgement call: are employer ratings part of my site’s DNA? Is this kind of unvarnished data something my candidates crave – and my employers are willing to put up with?

One final piece of advice: if you go with ratings, make sure you have a good lawyer (and for that matter, you should have a good lawyer, regardless)!

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