Knowing where to find inside information about a potential employer can mean the difference between getting a job from a great company and heading down the wrong path.
By Sarah K. White
It’s tempting to jump on the first job offer you get, but the last thing you want to do is find yourself working for a company that doesn’t align with your goals or values. But it’s difficult to get a full picture of a company’s culture and working environment in a few short interviews and one tour of the office building.
“Before starting your research, take some time to think about what you want and need — both from and beyond the job — to be successful and truly engaged at work. Think about the core values and principles you hope guide that company, the type of work you’d like to do there, and the kinds of people who create and preserve the culture itself,” says Kathleen Pai, vice president of HR at Ultimate Software.
Whether you are at the beginning of your job search or preparing for an interview, being armed with as much knowledge as possible about a potential employer is in your best interest. Not only will it help you formulate more insightful questions, it will boost your confidence as well.
Glassdoor offers reviews of companies based on user-submitted feedback, or as Glassdoor calls it: "employee-generated" content. Glassdoor also offers information about salaries (provided anonymously) and potential interview questions. You can find information on employee benefits and company culture, and you can read reviews from current and past employees.
“I suggest looking at Glassdoor reviews and researching the management team. What do they talk about and publish? Look for signs that tell you whether the organization values bottom-up ideas or if the culture is directive from the top," says Adriana Roche, vice president of people and places at Segment.
While every employee’s experience will be different, you should be able to get a strong sense for how the business operates. Companies will even advertise jobs on Glassdoor, so if you stumble on a company that looks like a good fit, you can instantly see what openings they have.
Like Glassdoor, Indeed has thousands of company reviews that are submitted from current and past employees. Unlike Glassdoor, Indeed is first and foremost a job aggregator, with listings from practically every job site out there. Reviews, however, are not aggregated from outside sources and are hosted solely on Indeed.com.
“While pay and job security remain essential, factors such as trust, open communication, professional development, and company reputation play an increasingly important role in influencing employees’ long-term happiness and commitment to the workplace. Consider what you’re looking for in a company and use that to steer your research,” says Pai.
Indeed is a useful resource if you’re in the process of looking for jobs and want to know what you’re getting into before you apply. You might quickly recognize the job isn’t a good fit by looking at the reviews and salary data. Or, you might feel the company culture doesn’t align with what you’re looking for in your next job, saving both you and the recruiter some time.
LinkedIn is more than a networking site; it’s a resource for job seekers to research companies and potential co-workers and a place where recruiters find talent. LinkedIn doesn't provide user-based company reviews like Glassdoor or Indeed, but it’s a great way to see whether you have any current connections working at the company who might be able to give you insight into what it’s like to work there, or to establish a new connection — as long as you are upfront about your intentions.
“Don't have any connections? Go to Linkedin and search your second-degree connections. Don't be afraid to message that person, let them know about your mutual connection and active interest in the company, and then ask for 15 minutes of their time to ask a few questions. Be sure to have questions prepared as you never know how different employees may influence the outcome of the hiring process,” says Heather Doshay, senior vice president of people and places at Rainforest QA.
CareerBliss features over 3.5 million job postings, 4 million salaries and 700,000 company reviews, according to its website. It’s a one-stop shop to find open jobs, determine a fair salary and read employee reviews on the company. It’s been around since 2008, with a focus on helping users “find happiness in the workplace” and in their careers. It’s easy to forget in your job search that it’s not just about finding a job — it’s finding a place where you can thrive.
“Interviewing is a two-way street, and research is beneficial to the interviewer in two ways. Not only does this help the candidate impress the company with their knowledge, but also for the candidate to determine if the company is a good match for their career goals,” says Doshay.
CareerBliss also offers a unique feature that will allow you to compare jobs side by side, using a proprietary “Bliss Score.” A company’s Bliss Score is determined through several factors, including job satisfaction, pay scale and overall employee happiness. If you’re looking for the right cultural fit, it’s a great way to stack up the competition.
You’d be hard pressed to find any business, small or large, without some type of social media presence. And you can learn a lot about a business by looking at its social media pages to see what leaders in the organization post and share.
“Most companies these days have more than just websites; they keep a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Crunchbase, etc. These sites highlight recent press about the company, new product releases, and highlight the company culture, says Doshay.
Head to popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what content the organization posts and shares. If they have a YouTube channel, watch a few videos to get insight into the products, services or software the company offers. And while Crunchbase isn’t your typical social media platform, it’s a valuable resource in your company research. It was originally set up to offer information on startups, but it’s grown to include information on public and private companies around the world.
Fairygodboss is specifically targeted to women in the workplace, offering “job reviews for women, by women.” Women often have more to consider going into a new company — especially in the male-dominated tech industry. Fairygodboss focuses on offering women reviews that reflect salary practices, maternity and pregnancy benefits, work-life balance and career advice.
“Trusted, third-party review sites such as Fairygodboss and The Muse can provide valuable insights on a company’s culture, leadership, business trajectory, and more — offering candid reviews from current employees about what it’s like to work there, and even video walkthroughs on day-to-day responsibilities for various roles,” says Pai.
There are even discussion boards where women can connect to share experiences and ask for career advice. For women working in male-dominated fields, or in potentially toxic work environments, it’s a safe place to reach out and find a position with a company that better represents its female workers.
The Muse is a valuable career resource where you can find information about a company and see open job listings at the organization. For example, HP’s profile on The Muse includes photos, mission statements, headquarter locations, videos about the corporate culture, key employees at the organization and open jobs. You can also find links to the organization’s social media pages and explore content from HP about working at the company.
“Websites like The Muse allow you to see how community members such as customers, partners, investors and current employees are describing the company you’re researching,” says Tim Falls, director of developer relations at DigitalOcean.
The Muse also offers advice for job seekers as well as the opportunity to connect with coaches or to take courses. You can have your resume reviewed, partake in a 30-minute career Q&A, learn more about job search strategy or get advice on how to improve your LinkedIn profile. It’s a one-stop shop for job seekers looking to do their homework before applying for a job.
If you’re researching a company and the only resources you can find are from the organization itself, with little insight from past or current employees, you might want to branch out to get another perspective. At Quora, you can ask questions on nearly any topic and people will reach out to share their knowledge, perspectives, opinions and ideas. It’s a great way to gain an outside perspective on working for a company or in a specific field or job title. If you aren’t comfortable posting a question yourself, you can search to see if anyone else has asked it before and read those responses instead.
“To gaze through a different lens, you can often find questions and answers around, ‘what is it like to work at [insert company here]?,’ on sites like Quora — and because the perspectives presented in such communities tend to be less filtered and more raw, it’s possible to gain an otherwise overlooked view into the employee experience,”Falls says.