There aren’t a ton of fun things about working in human resources. We do things that need to be done. It’s not super sexy or totally fulfilling, but it’s important.

You know what’s fun? The other stuff that sits outside of HR.

Social media. Employment branding. Data. Thinking about HR as a B2C function instead of a B2B cesspool of boredom.

But people want to take the fun stuff away from HR.

Without blinking an eye, HR professionals give ground to vendors who throw parties at conferences and promise to “partner with HR” — all while undermining the very function of human resources itself.

One of those vendors is Glassdoor. They’ve created a marketplace where people can talk about their experiences as applicants, candidates and employees of specific companies. People can review the employment lifecycle — from soup to nuts — and give honest and semi-anonymous feedback.

That’s great, but other than selling your data and inserting a cookie into someone’s browser, Glassdoor falls victim to the curse of every other vendor in this space and can’t monetize jobseekers or employees in a super compelling way.

Glassdoor is the 2015 version of The Ladders.

Where most vendors fail to monetize the jobseeker, Glassdoor effectively monetizes the dim-witted HR professionals who follow fads.

* Worried about this thing called employer branding?
* Want to respond to user reviews in Glassdoor’s marketplace — as if those reviews mean something?
* Want to have a special profile that tells people how great your company is — beyond your dang website and career page?
* Want to monitor your company’s reputation like it’s a sketchy credit score?

Glassdoor can sell that shit.

It’s called employer branding (very loosely) and everybody talks about it.

I don’t mind it when companies make money, but the thing about “employer branding” is that it’s pretty easy to do on your own. You can google it and master it in a few days. Go to a conference. Take a short course on branding. Talk to my friends Lars Schmidt or Jennifer McClure. Study your competition. This isn’t hard. And, when done right, employer branding can be cheap.

When you spend money with Glassdoor, you wave the white flag of surrender.

I don’t respect people whose actions tell me, “Our human resources department like cats, Diet Coke, and cupcakes. We can’t monitor a brand or use existing technologies to post jobs to the right communities at the right time. We’re too busy being gossipy and lame.”

When I work with HR professionals who get giddy about Glassdoor and complain about the challenges of employer branding, I give them the Laurie Face® and ask, “Can you come to work on time and do your job, or is that too much of a challenge, too?”

Stop being lazy.

Successful HR leaders are bold, courageous and stingy as hell with their budget. They aren’t spending the tens of thousands of dollars needed to appease the market and jump on the latest fad. They are demanding more from their HR, staffing and recruiting leaders — and they are getting it.

And, FWIW, these leaders just invested in new cloud-based recruiting and social talent acquisition platforms. They’re not going to spend hard-earned cash with Glassdoor as long as the can own the conversation about employment and brand themselves.

So stop being a tool and jumping on the latest trend. Glassdoor shouldn’t be a thing, and you shouldn’t be a mouthpiece for such a silly fad.

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  1. Sorry Laurie, I think you’re wrong – I think you are mixing two separate things.

    Firstly, I do agree that a competent HR person should get Employer Branding and be able to define and influence this – as part of their organisation’s overall brand message – without needing to buy snake oil from the latest sales pitch.

    But Glassdoor is to me a Trip Advisor for employers. Candidates and employees will use it as feedback mechanism in the same way as restaurant/hotel customers do now. While you can argue that restaurant owners should be doing listening to feedback direct, and going out of their way to solicit it, it’s not always possible. And the reputation of their establishments is affected by what people post (both positive and negative). Glassdoor’s problem at the moment is that it doesn’t have sufficient reviews on its site (certainly in the UK) to avoid it being skewed by a small number of positive or negative comments. But to ignore it is not a sensible HR approach in my view – though neither is being a “slave to it”

    • Simon, glassdoor has two models: the candidate-facing portal for reviews and a behind the scene module for employers to proactively address brand, culture and all things soft and mushy. “Helps with SEO,” is one sales approach. “You can respond to negative reviews,” is another.

      But to your broader point: recruiting belongs in HR, and thus, so does employer branding.

  2. Laurie,

    I agree entirely with you, and at last refreshing someone who is prepared to understand a model before jumping on the wagon. I’ve found two major flaws in GlassDoor’s model:

    Firstly, you have to add an opinion to retain an ability to review other people’s views on a company. They are in effect, forcing you to leave a review on a company – for me that is instantly going to have inaccurate data. I think Yelp! had this challenge a while back.

    Secondly the ever popular analogy with TripAdvisor is false. There are no limits to the number of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, or even holidays I can review, In reality the opinions you want for your company (stable, loyal employees who have in-depth opinions on a company culture) are only useful once. How can a person who has been at a company for 10 years and risen through the ranks offer any value? (other than one review on the company that has employed them for 10 years). If your opinion and review base is one user = one review the website will have a very short shelf life and will run out of new reviews (of any value) very soon.

  3. A great article and insight, the behind the scene pitch is so true and most of it has little to do with Employer Branding.

    Also gaming the system by encouraging HR to get staff to “like” the organisations just games the results and makes the data slanted.

    Although many will disagree including Glassdoor they are another job board, yes they use like LinkedIn do different content to build the audience but they generate revenues from job posting, “branding” etc.

    Really super piece.


  4. Laurie, I agree. A big part of the issue is that HR/ Recruiting have lacked enough forward thinking leaders who can challenge the claims of vendors.

    Just from the perspective of clicks & digital (since that’s where I sit, nowadays), part of the issue with Glassdoor comes down to us lagging behind marketing in understanding online behavior. We measure our investments (ad dollars) based on which sites/ tools are the most effective. Since we have, until very recently, lacked the ability/ chops/ desire to dig deeper into how candidates behave online, all we look at is the last site a job seeker visited before they apply. To that end, Glassdoor does a remarkably strong job of delivering hires – it looks remarkably cost-effective.

    All that said: I question that. My gut, and we’re gathering data that is moving that from gut to data-driven conclusion, is that Glassdoor is simply the last stop a large number of job seekers take before applying. It’s a sanity check. They hear about the role elsewhere (friend, Indeed, LinkedIn, diversity site, whatever), hop over to Glassdoor to check the reviews, and then apply. Typically, unless the reviews are terrible, they’re going to apply no matter what. Glassdoor wasn’t the actual motivating factor. It’s just getting the credit.

    (Along with that, Glassdoor spends a ton on keywords – to the point that we’re competing with them for ad placement, search results, etc. That’s difficult to swallow, paying double for the same results.)

    What we need to do is to start measuring multi-clicks back – find out where else they’ve been, prior to Glassdoor. The tech exists in marketing, advertising, etc – we’ve been behind the curve. With the growth of marketing solutions geared towards talent acquisition, that can do a better job of measuring behavior, presenting/ owning brand, etc, I think we’ll see a drop in the perceived need for large investments in Glassdoor.

  5. “And, FWIW, these leaders just invested in new cloud-based recruiting and social talent acquisition platforms. They’re not going to spend hard-earned cash with Glassdoor as long as the can own the conversation about employment and brand themselves.”

    Laurie, we couldn’t agree with you more on this point. That’s why we’re focused on building software that enables companies to own that conversation across multiple channels.

  6. Glassdoor isn’t the devil. Good way to see how some employees perceive you (even if they are the outliers perhaps). You can glean something from any feedback source.

    But there is no need to pay for any services. If you running your recruitment/branding strategy right why pay for anything else.

    You’d be smarter to take the glassdoor money and hire a marketing intern or employee to focus on branding. Or better yet. Just partner with your own marketing team for free.

  7. On a related note, have you heard about the new anonymous app (memo) where employees can communicate about their experiences? The app verifies you have a company email; that lets you “in.” could proved to be interesting. I’m sure they’ll be monetizing analytics tools based on the anonymous info about the employee experience.

  8. This is a great piece, and the comments I find equally helpful. Been reading a great book called HR You Can Use by Lori Kleiman. FOr our small business it’s been a great resource and I keep it handy! is her site. Anything helps in the smaller setting, i can’t imagine taking on HR in a large place!

  9. Thank you for articulating my thoughts about Glassdoor. I have had employees use this website to quote salaries that were submitted by employees at other organizations that were out of line with salary surveys. I do not find it a reliable source and would not justify it by spending money to brand the organization I worked for. Better uses of those scarce dollars.

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