Great PLaces To Work? How To Unlock Inside Information On Employers

By VICKIE ELMER— Look inside before you commit to walk through the gates or guard station every day. Do your due diligence on an employer before you sign on as an employee.

Starting today, there’s another way to peek in to corporate cultures: It’s Great Rated! a “social search engine for workplace culture,” developed by the organization that researches Fortune’s Best Places to Work list.

unlock insider information about employersIt was created by Great Places to Work Institute which has studied workplaces for 25 years and has an inspiring mission statement.

It joins Glassdoor, Indeed, Vault and a variety of others that rate and relay workers’ often-anonymous perspectives on workplace culture.

Great Rated! has impeccable timing, since so many workers are tired of their jobs and want to trade up. One survey by CareerBuilder showed that one-fourth of all workers were job hunting, though others show an even higher share searching.

What it doesn’t have yet are a large number of employers. It will start with 24 companies that have been through its ratings and reviews. “But it will be more each day,” a spokeswoman says, with more than 100 interested in joining. Its more established competitors list hundreds or thousands of employers.

To join Great Rated!, employers pay a $995 fee (more if they want add-ons for branding and social media), and then stand aside while the site’s owner distributes a random survey to a “representative sample” of the company’s employees.

“Companies cannot pick and choose who takes the survey,” Great Rated! CEO Kim Peters said through a spokeswoman. Some other rating sites are based on ‘”ad hoc comments,” she noted several times.

Great Rated! uses a statistically valid survey to create “a true picture of the workplace,” Peters said through a spokeswoman.unlock insider information about employers

At Glassdoor, “we never claim the reviews to be scientific since they are based on employees’ opinions; however we do feel that they are directionally relevant,” said Samantha Zupan, a spokeswoman. It does, however, publish the entire reviews so jobseekers can note “the good, the bad and everything in between,” she noted.

The debut gives me the chance to provide readers – whether they’re soon to graduate from a university or hope to leave a 20-year now-stale career with one company – some suggestions on where to look up a potential future employer.

Start with the company’s own website. Then visit two or three workplace culture ratings sites – and go visit the employer in person.

Here’s some options for the initial research:

  • Glassdoor was founded in 2007, and received “more than a half million company reviews” from former and current staff over the last 12 months. It says it has reports on more than 225,000 companies in the U.S., Australia, India and other countries. The company started by providing salary information, then added added workplace culture and CEO’s performance. Now it gives interview questions you might be asked. It offers “enhanced employer profiles,” social recruiting and other employer products for a fee. I was a paid Glassdoor blogger for more than two years. Its top company (on the 50 Best Places to Work): Facebook, with 430 reviews and 621 interview experiences.
  •  I will add more here after I can explore the site, giving it a few days to get going. The company has some good partners, including Simply Hired which is providing job listings. (Simply Hired ranks sixth in online job sites.)
  • Indeed – This job search giant offers its own ‘best places to work’ lists, when at least 15 reviews by current or former employees are received. It has a sweet function that allows you to see the employers by city, so if you’re in Dallas, you’ll know who’s got the best reviews – and go after jobs there. Its top company: Concur, which makes travel and expense software and systems and has 87 job openings.
  • Vault Established in 1996, this site seems focused more on student, 20-somethings and accounting, consulting, banking and law firms rankings, with separate scores for diversity, prestige and a few other areas. Some of the best information is reserved for “gold members” who pay $9.95 a month for access. It also produces digital and other career guides and some interesting internship ratings. Its top rated company: Multiple ones: Bain & Co., J.P. Morgan and PriceWaterhouse Coopers all top lists.

I’m also partial to the Fortune Best employers list (note that I proudly contribute to Fortune and and lists by Working Mother and one by DiversityInc. Some regional lists, created by business media or local nonprofits, also can be valuable.

One thing for all job seekers to remember is that most of these sites earn most or all of their money from the employer, which places ads, job listings, buy services or access, or in Indeed’s case pay per clicks.

Some take care to disclose what information is provided by the employer, but not all clear on their methods. Look at their FAQs and disclosures – transparency is important in information providers as well as from future employers.

This story about gaining inside info on employers originally appeared on Vickie Elmer’s Working Kind blog. 

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