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The Internet has been a great equalizer. Consumers use BizRate to find the lowest prices. Entrepreneurs turn to Fundable.org to attract investors. Political activists use MoveOn.org to be heard.

Where do job seekers go? To places like Indeed or Glassdoor, which are online communities of current and past workers who dish anonymously about salaries, bosses and anything else work-related. In the six years since it launched, Glassdoor alone has more than 22 million members and custom data on some 300,000 companies, according to VentureBeat

Software Advice recently polled 4,600 U.S. workers about Glassdoor and here's what it found:

  • 48 percent of respondents to its survey use Glassdoor as part of their job searches.
  • Almost half of Glassdoor visitors use the site before applying for jobs as a way to narrow their search.
  • About 15 percent use Glassdoor after getting an offer to decide whether to accept the position.

“[Glassdoor is] great for job seekers because, unlike other social sites where recruiters can scan for both active and passive candidates — employers more or less ‘shopping’ for potential hires — Glassdoor reverses the paradigm,” writes Erin Osterhaus, managing editor at Software Advice. “It’s great for recruiters because they can build an employer brand that can potentially attract these job seekers.”

Compensation & Benefits Rule

People who submit reviews on Glassdoor are asked to rate companies on a scale of one to five stars on:

  • Culture and values
  • Work-life balance
  • Senior management
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Career opportunities

Of the categories, positive reviews about a company's compensation and benefits are the No. 1 driver of applications, followed by work-life balance and career opportunities. On the opposite end, negative reviews about a company's compensation and benefits is the primary reason why a candidate chooses not to apply for a job, followed by senior management and work-life balance.

“Prior to Glassdoor, candidates either had to ask uncomfortable questions about pay at some point during the interview process, or wait until an offer was made," says Osterhaus. "While Glassdoor might not be able to tell candidates exactly what their compensation would be, it does give them a good idea early on in the job search process so they can better gauge which employers they would like to apply with.”

Low Ratings Matter Less

So what should a company with negative ratings do? Not a whole lot other than to focus on correcting the problem identified, advises Osterhaus. “[Current employees] now have a forum to voice their comments and concerns about the company, which the employers can then use to, hopefully, improve working conditions for those same employees.”

When it comes to potential recruits, maybe a company doesn't have to worry too much. Forty percent of job applicants will apply for a job at a company with one star and 33 percent require a minimum of three stars.

Companies can rise — or fall — quickly in the Glassdoor universe: almost half of job seekers look only at reviews that are six months older or less. 

 

Photo: Can Stock