Fun with Glassdoor

woman looking up from laptop

They want me to work where?

A while back, I signed up with Glassdoor, the company ratings and reviews site, where you can see what other people think of working at their employer. You can see the salaries they’re making – if they’re above or below the average for the industry – and various other rankings. It’s anonymous, and it’s free. And there are different perks you can get, if you fill out a bunch of info about companies you’ve worked for. I like their model – they benefit build their business from the quality content you add to their site, and they compensate you for it in valuable and meaningful ways.

Glassdoor has really saved me some headaches, over the years, when I was looking around on for what’s cookin’ in the up-and-coming tech jobs scene.

I check Indeed regularly to see what kinds of jobs are out there (and which skills pay the best), so I can make sure I’m keeping my skills up-to-date. I actually use it less for finding jobs, these days, than I use it to keep apace with the most in-demand skills. It makes no sense, in these challenging job market conditions, to sit around and hope (against hope) that my established skills and past experience and even my connections are going to be enough to keep me afloat in the future.

I have to keep current — and even if I’m not going to invest a ton of time in learning the latest JavaScript framework, it’s kind of silly for me to not at least find out what others are using — and hiring others to use. You want to at least be conversant in the latest emerging technologies, right? The tech industry isn’t frittering away time “evaluating” the latest time-saving framework that can automate or standardize a whole lot of headaches we used to have to deal with from scratch. They jump all over it, even the biggest of companies. And the good money goes to the people with the initiative and the chops to put those new tools to good use. If you can converse intelligently about those new directions, so much the better when you’re sitting across from a hiring manager. I try to keep up.

But I digress.

Glassdoor has turned into my employer-screening tool of choice, just as Indeed is my skillset strategizing tool of choice. Over the years, I’ve been tempted a number of times to nibble at some posted Indeed job-seeker bait. I’ve even seen some unicorn-ish jobs posted, for a up-and-coming company just down the road from where I live. That seemed potentially glorious, considering how much time I’ve lost to commutes to such distant realms as Paris, Munich, Boston, Lexington, and Waltham. I like to drive to/from the office as little as possible. I’ve got much better things to do with my life than look at other people’s tail-lights. I’ve had 15-20-minute commutes before. They can be life-changing, and for the better.

Thing is, for that unicorn-ish position, when I dug into the Glassdoor reviews, the burnish of the job description got a bit tarnished. Hunger Games level company politics. Connected people getting promoted over capable people. Infighting and bickering. Silo’ed cliques of competing interests sabotaging each other. OMG, it was so much fun reading the descriptions. I’ve been working the 9-to-5 since 1987, and given what I’ve seen, I could easily fill in the blanks with scenarios I’ve witnessed, myself.

I’ll do this now and then, just for kicks. Even if I’m not actively looking for a job. It’s always a good idea to be familiar with companies in your area and your sector, so if someone contacts you on down the line, you can have a clue about whether the company is a good prospect for you or not. And reading all those reviews is a lot of fun. Even if the reviewers are embittered, hyperbole-prone corporate wage slaves wringing the last drops of delight from what limited vengeance they can wreak, there’s still a lot of insight to be gotten from the reviews. Or if they’re clearly brown-nosing and sing the praises of their employer at the tops of their lungs, there’s also insight to be gained from that. If you’ve been around long enough, you know how to read between the lines.

Just imagining the dramas, the intrigue, the “interpersonal challenges”… the Game of Thrones types of jockeying for position… and the wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who don’t dare change jobs, for fear of what it might do to their long-term retirement planning… If you’ve got a good imagination (and I do), it’s good for a lot of fun.

The thing that makes it particularly enjoyable, is knowing that I’ve dodged a bullet, when I’m tempted by a job that sounds like a great fit for me… then I read a politically careful review of a place that just screams “Get out! Save yourself while you can!” It spares me the hassle of ever having to initiate a conversation with anyone at that company — and let’s face it, internal recruiters and hiring managers can be very persuasive, and you can end up going down a rabbit hole before you know what hit you. I’d just as soon not even go there.

So, I don’t.

Thank you, Glassdoor, for saving me the time and energy of getting sucked into job-search boondoggles with companies that I should avoid.

Thank you so much. It’s always fun.