I’m not afraid to admit that I’m one of the first people to peruse through the occassional online review. Whether I’m craving something tasty to eat and decide to look at Yelp, or I’m evaluating a new company on Glassdoor, I love a good review. Online reviews can make you feel much better about where you’re focusing your resources, and give you the confidence that you are going to see real value for every dollar spent.
Just recently, I found my new favorite taco spot on Yelp. I also turned down a new prospect because the Glassdoor reviews confirmed exactly who I thought they were after meeting with them.
I detail these experiences to also note that everyone should take online reviews with a grain of salt, because what you see is not always what you get. It can be tricky navigating the world of online reviews. Taking these reviews as gospel could backfire on you, or at the very least manipulate you into thinking something that isn’t true.
My father recently forwarded me an email that he had received, and the subject line read, “Want to have positive online reviews?” The email proceeded to detail a process in which business positive reviews could be purchased for a nominal fee.
This definitely wasn’t the first I’d seen of this type of offering. A few months ago, I received an email informing me that I could be listed as one of the country’s best recruiting firms. This would be published through a noteworthy source, and I’d even receive a plaque to hang on my office wall. What an honor to be bestowed on me, when all I’d have to do is call in with a credit card number.
Obviously both of these offerings were declined, as I felt it would not be very ethical. However, plenty of companies do take advantage of these offerings, and manipulate the online narrative around their place of business.
When researching on Glassdoor, I’ve noticed companies with three 1 star reviews followed by three 5 star reviews the following day. This seems a bit suspicious doesn’t it? Sure, these reviews may be completely legitimate, posted by actual employees. However, I would at least question if their bosses requested that these reviews be posted.
I spent time working in market research, and during this time my mentor used to say, “Whenever you give people the opportunity to decide to voice your opinion, you’re always going to get the extremes. Those that will go out of their way are either going to be extremely upset, or extremely happy. There’s typically not much in between.” This is something that I believe is important to keep in mind.
Considering everything that I outlined above, I really do want to stress that I STRONGLY recommend these online resources. It is just important that you look at them closely in order to pinpoint any trends. If you see any “red flags,” don’t be afraid to ask about it. For example, if you see multiple reviews about how poor their training is, you may ask the question, “Can you tell me more about your training?” I’ve had candidates do this and have received the response, “We were very aware that we needed better training so let me tell you what we’ve done to improve it.”
Even knowing what I know now about how these platforms can be manipulated, I still find most online resources are extremely helpful. However, I recommend that you always remain cautious of what you read, and try to read between the lines.