If you’re not familiar with Glassdoor then it’s the first site you need to visit after reading this post. What Google Review and Yelp are to local retailers, restaurants and bars, Glassdoor is to companies.

Glassdoor has several typical features of HR/employment sites: job board listings, corporate profiles, list of the best places to work for. But the one feature that sets it apart from the other job sites is that it lists employee reviews that give you a more realistic view of the company culture and management styles.

I first became aware of Glassdoor around 2012 when one of the company recruiters brought it to my attention. The problem was that the company was receiving more negative reviews than positive ones. The HR team did not know what to do and was asking for help.

My first response was the same that I give local business owners, read the reviews, address them and respond in an the same way as you would do with a customer in your store on on the phone. However it’s a bit different when you have employees instead of customers.

Much like consumer review websites there are some basic trends to look for.

  • Negative vs. Positive reviews ratio: Most reviewers tend to either love or hate your company, product, etc. People who think it’s OK don’t spend time writing reviews to post a neutral rating.
  • A good ratio to target 70% positive to 30% negative. Remember you can’t please everyone and a few negative reviews is normal.

Glassdoor allows for an employer response to each of the employee reviews. This is an appropriate place to respond to any extreme allegations or update bad policies or practices that have changed. Also it’s an opportunity for the company to let the employee know they have received their message.

What you should NOT do is have HR post glowing reviews trying to counter the overall employee satisfaction rating. The satisfaction rating is based on the average of all reviews and alerts Glassdoor visitors with various messages like “employees are generally happy” or “employees are dissatisfied”.

Glassdoor also allows companies, for a fee, to customize their company page with links to social sites, video embeds and other rich media to give visitors a more well-rounded view of the company.  One item I noticed is that the reviews can be highlighted and moved up front.  Congrats to Glassdoor for putting in notification above such reviews stating it’s a featured review.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Glassdoor Reviews

First and foremost you need to see what your employees are saying. Like any other review site, Glassdoor has the extreme haters and lovers of companies. And you can sometimes throw out the extreme reviews to see what the middle ground is saying. So after removing the lovers and haters, do you find the majority of reviews to be negative with one or two management complaints frequently appearing in the comments?

If so then you have some issues to deal with. Many companies still ignore this feedback which is a really stupid thing to do. This feedback is unsolicited, unlike most company employee surveys. If a employee writes a negative review, they are not just angry. They don’t want others to end up like them. Most likely they do not plan on staying for long since they have poisoned the recruiting well to bring in new talent the company needs.

Another tactic to avoid is to have the HR folks write posts that say the negative reviewers are “whiners.” Don’t laugh, as I’ve seen it happen and other reviewers even call out the HR reviewers. All this does is create doubt in your recruits mind. Is this company really as great as they say they are? Did they post this review calling upset employees whiners?

I’ve even been told by potential hires that they were reluctant to accept a position based on negative Glassdoor reviews.

Another interesting facet of Glassdoor is that you can also review the interview process. I mean how sick are you of HR never calling you back, never letting you know if you’re still in consideration for that job? Although not as many interview reviews are written, it does give you an opportunity to prepare and get an inside look at the review process.

Remember an interview is not only to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. It’s also an opportunity for you to determine if this company is right for you. If the corporate culture is not what you’re seeking do you want to work at the company?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.