Glassdoor is leveraging crowds to better inform job-seekers

Since it was founded in 2008, Glassdoor has been leveraging crowd-sourcing to create a vast database of job positions, salaries, interview processes, companies’ culture, and more.

Since it was founded in 2008, Glassdoor has been changing the job searching process through crowdsourcing. Glassdoor leverages the knowledge of employees of companies to collect data about these companies’ positions, salaries, interview process, culture, and more. This compilation of data is then used to attract job-seekers to glassdoor.com. People visit the website to learn about companies they are considering, to prepare for interviews, and to get an idea of companies’ pay and benefits. The more job-seekers use Glassdoor, the more attractive it becomes for recruiters. Glassdoor allows companies to create a branded company profile and post jobs, making glassdoor.com a one-stop-shop for job-seekers – from discovery of companies, through research, and until the application. Users are then encouraged to come back and report about the process they went through (interviews, salary, etc.), and so the cycle continues. The incentive of companies to create a company page and post jobs on Glassdoor is clear, and they pay for this service. But how does Glassdoor convince employees and job-seekers to share information and enrich the database? One important method they use is enforcing reciprocity.  To see all the reviews a user must sign up. As part of the signup the user is prompted to reveal where she works, what is her salary and write a review about the company. There is a way to skip this but Glassdoor really tries to hide this option. In any case, after reviewing a few postings the user must upgrade to a “premium account” by, you guessed correctly, posting a salary, an interview, or a review of a company. Thus, every user who uses Glassdoor for more than a one-off search must contribute to the database. Still, most posts are very thoughtful and comprehensive, indicating that people are actually interested in sharing their experience. Disgruntled employees use Glassdoor as a small revenge against their employers, and happy employees use it to share their satisfaction and make it public. It seems like Glassdoor serves as a resort to every engaged employee, whether she’s happy with her job or not.

 

Glassdoor clearly creates value to both job-seekers and companies. Job-seekers get job-specific crowd-sourced information they would otherwise not have access to, and companies get access to a highly targeted set of candidates – candidates that are in the market for a new job and have looked into the company. Glassdoor is a private company so its financials are not published, but it seems that their value capture is mainly based on charges to companies that post jobs ($99-$249 per month per ad) and promote their brand (by building and promoting their profile page). Another, secondary source of revenue is display ads (powered by Google ads).

 

Glassdoor has been successful in creating a large database and positioning itself as a destination for job-seekers. This will be difficult to replicate and gives them a competitive advantage in the field of company-specific intelligence over other players in the recruiting market, including the behemoth LinkedIn. However, Glassdoor cannot rest on its laurels. The data they crowd-source constantly changes and to remain up-to-date, Glassdoor must continue building the community and expanding its database and user base, or else it would quickly become obsolete. To add to that, other companies are constantly innovating in the recruiting space, spearheaded by LinkedIn which aspires to be the portal for job-seekers and recruiters. It’s not impossible for LinkedIn to attack Glassdoor in its home court and start compiling a similar database, they certainly have deep enough pockets to do so. Still, Glassdoor has been very successful in crowd-sourcing company-specific intelligence and is well set to remain a key player in the online recruiting market.

Previous:

Yelp is Failing its Customers – Rating Systems and the Challenge of Discovery

Next:

Pandering to Beauty Junkies

9 thoughts on “Glassdoor is leveraging crowds to better inform job-seekers

  1. Thanks for the post! Glassdoor is definitely a great site, and one I’ve used often. I’ve always tended to feel that the actual reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, as there are often large discrepancies in employees’ reactions and it seems at times that those most motivated to write more detailed reviews are those who feel most strongly one way or the other. However, the strategy of obligating users to contribute definitely helps Glassdoor to amass enough reviews, particularly for larger companies, to be more representative. And I certainly think that the more objective information that Glassdoor provides – salary ranges, interview questions, etc – is very useful.
    I agree with you that Glassdoor may need to watch out for a large player like LinkedIn who may be able to launch something similar fairly quickly thanks to its size. I think that with this in mind Glassdoor is doing all it can to engrain itself in users’ minds as the go-to place for credible information about workplaces, leaving LinkedIn its dominance in the job search and professional social media community space. Besides trying to scale quickly in order to ensure strong coverage of workplaces, I think it’s interesting that Glassdoor is also establishing its credibility by, for example, ranking “best places to work” via its annual Employees’ Choice Awards. The fact that companies publicize these rankings helps reinforce Glassdoor’s reputation and credibility. It’ll be interesting to see whether Glassdoor and LinkedIn will continue to split the online jobs market without beginning to compete directly.

  2. This was a great post and has made me reconsider my initial impression of Glassdoor, although I still have some concerns. My experience in using Glassdoor is very limited; however, what bothered me most about the site was the fragmented nature of the information. When I search for a company or position, I am given hundreds of search results, all related to various positions within the firm I am searching. The sheer amount of information is overwhelming, and reviews of certain positions within a firm may not be relevant at all – for example, a review of a marketing position within a large firm isn’t very helpful to me if I’m looking at an operations role. That being said, I do see value in Glassdoor and actually think it is quite differentiated from LinkedIn. While LinkedIn seems to be more about connecting people, Glassdoor is more like Yelp and provides reviews of what it is like to work for (or interview with) a company and what one can expect (in terms of pay, culture, etc.). I think that if Glassdoor could simply try to better organize its reviews (by company and then by function) and consolidate a large amount of fragmented information, the site would be greatly improved.

  3. Great post and one that is an excellent usage of crowd-sourcing during a relevant time for many of students going through the recruiting phase. The crowd-sourcing model uses a multi-sided platform that continues to grow as more and more prospective recruits apply and interview, more and more current employees post salary information and reviews, and employers create and post company pages. The primarily differentiator from a LinkedIn is that the data appears to be more open sourced and anonymous to get real data on compensation and working conditions vs. LinkedIn which services as a rolodex and networking resource.

    Through this, Glassdoor can then create lists such as the “Best Companies to Work For” as well as become the trusted source to search for salary benchmarks or to prepare for an interview as one can read prior questions for a specific role. The relevancy of a role, recency and frequency are all key factors which are enhanced by more and more reviews. Crowd-sourcing is a crucial element here, but one that has been slightly marginalized due to the tendency for people to post things only on the extreme levels. As the company continues to grow and scale with more and more reviews, this should become less and less of a concern.

  4. I think Glassdoor offers insightful information on employee salaries and satisfaction but I am concerned about biased data. The fact that any verified employee can leave a comment/review on Glassdoor implies that employees with extremely negative or positive experiences are more likely to contribute to the platform than average employees. This leads to lots of long tail data and biased reviews of companies. Glassdoor needs to encourage either a large number or an even distribution of employees to contribute to eliminate those biases.

  5. Great post, Noam. Thanks!

    My two cents:
    1. I’m curious to what extent Glassdoor will drive employer behaviors as they grow. If the repercussions of treating an employee really well (or badly) were typically limited to that employee’s circle of friends, the stakes today are much higher. Companies should thus be driven to be more cognizant of their employees’ satisfaction than before.
    2. The problem I have with interpreting the reviews is that I feel that they reflect the difference between the employees’ expectations and their experience, and not the experience itself. For example, if Elgoog Inc has a reputation of being heaven on earth, but is just slightly below that, and Nozama Inc has a bad reputation but is actually an ok place, I’m not sure which will get a better review. As a user, I’m thus forced to think what the average employee’s perception of each company.

  6. Glassdoor has an admirable mission, but the site faces major challenges with reliability. Glassdoor has no way to verify salary data or ensure that company reviews are accurate, and studies have shown that Glassdoor ratings have little correlation with actual employee satisfaction. As a result, the challenges of managing anonymously crowdsourced data present a critical limitation in the company’s ability to create real value for many users.

  7. Absolutely agree with comments above. In my experience, the site works great for slow moving industries. But when you start to look at “fast” moving industries – i.e. tech, consulting etc, then the data becomes out-of-date very quickly. It is hard to pick out the good from the bad in this case.

  8. I love Glassdoor! One concern I have is its ability to scale internationally. Adoption in non-Western markets are comparatively low, and I think it’s due to the consumer behaviours that do not share as much information about jobs and interviews online. Perhaps a more localized solution for Glassdoor in these emerging markets can help it take advantage of the platform that they have built.

  9. Great post, Noam! Love the points you bring up in context of LinkedIn. I completely agree that LinkedIn can, in fact, decide to attack Glassdoor’s core business. If you think about it, LinkedIn already has – for 300+ million professionals in the world – most of the information that Glasssdoor seeks, e.g., users’ current and previous jobs, titles, etc., and has existing properties such as Groups which they can use to engage in salary and interview questions related information. However, the real question is whether users would want to engage in such conversations on a platform such as LinkedIn. I, personally, have only shared such information on platforms such as Glassdoor on an anonymous basis. As long as most users would want to only anonymously share such sensitive information, I think Glassdoor is well protected from competition from LinkedIn.

Leave a comment