Should Salespeople use Glassdoor?

Should you use Glassdoor for job hunting?You are a recent college graduate and you’re trying to find your first sales job.

You got laid off from your last sales job, and you’re now scrambling to find new work.

You hate your job, so you’re now seeking a better sales position.

Where do you go for help? You could go to the usual suspects, e.g., friends, former co-workers, relatives, job recruiters, contacts, etc.

However, one source you may want to consider is Glassdoor.

What is Glassdoor?

For a job hunter, it could mean the difference between landing that dream job you always wanted and avoiding the job from hell.

According to its website, Glassdoor “holds a growing database of more than 8 million company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.”

What makes Glassdoor unique is that you get an insider’s view to find out more about a company’s culture and office politics. By looking through the glass door (get it?) you can read anonymous reviews posted by current and former employees. Among other things, reviewers can make recommendations on whether you should apply to a company, and offer star ratings as you see on Amazon or Netflix. Glassdoor also goes a step further and allows you to approve or disapprove of a CEO.

But you are not just reading reviews. You are also getting information on salaries for various positions. In many cases, you also have access to interview questions and hiring procedures, e.g., how many times were you interviewed, did you do phone and on-site interviews, or both, what was your overall experience like, etc.

But can you trust the reviews?

When job hunting, you always have to read between the lines and trust your gut.

Here is how you can interpret reviews posted on Glassdoor –

1). The number of reviews posted –  If there are only a handful of reviews, it’s going to be very difficult to understand the company’s culture or if you are a good fit or not. On the other hand, if you have let’s say  7 or more recent reviews, that could give you some idea of what type of company you are applying to.

2). The timelines of the reviews – if you see an influx of very positive reviews posted within a short period of time mixed in with a lot of negative reviews, that’s usually a sign that the employer is asking his employees to post good reviews to counter the bad ones. In that case, you really have to read between the lines. I’ve actually worked at companies where employers asked people to post encouraging reviews in an effort to attract more and better job applicants. In other cases, outgoing employees were asked to post good reviews before they left. Is that fair? Well, it depends. If current employees are truly happy with their jobs and the company, they shouldn’t have any misgivings about posting upbeat reviews. But if they are unhappy and feel coercive, that could be a problem.

3). Employer Engagement – Believe it or not, employers can actually participate for free on Glassdoor. For example, they can respond to reviews, offer updates about the company, and obtain a demographic snapshot of visitors to narrow down recruiting efforts. (Glassdoor also offers fee-based packages for employers, including advertising and enhanced profiles).

I believe the more engaged an employer is with Glassdoor, the more likely they are taking the reviews seriously and they want to improve their company. Most companies do want to hire the best people they can. If they suddenly see an onslaught of damaging comments, they know that could discourage good job candidates from applying to their company.

writing reviews on Glassdoor4). Age of reviews – I believe that the older the reviews, the less helpful they are going to be for job hunters. Why? With the passage of time, company cultures, policies and politics change. Sure, maybe 4 years ago there was high turnover in the sales department, but now under new management, the exits have now gone down to a trickle. While the occasional negative review may pop up, if you are reading mostly optimistic comments, that’s a good sign the sales department or company is in good shape.

5). Motive of the reviewers – maybe it’s me, but I believe the more people write negative reviews than positive ones. Sometimes destructive reviews are written by disgruntled former employees who have an ax to grind. Maybe they were fired or laid off, and writing negative posts is their way of “getting back at the man.”

However, what may seem bad to one employee may be good to another one. For example, I’ve read reviews where some employees complained about a company’s new open space office policy. (Please see my post on “Open Space Offices – Good or Bad Idea?”) They hate the arrangement because of the noise and lack of privacy. However, some employees may not care because for them an open space office provides a more collaborative and transparent environment. I read reviews where some employees have complained about using security cards to enter each floor of a building. But other employees like the arrangement because, in a post 9/11 world, they want extra protection from terrorists or gunslinging mentally ill people.

6). Length of the reviews – short reviews are really hard to interpret. Simply reading a review that says in effect “the place sucks, don’t work here” with few examples isn’t very helpful. The longer reviews that offer deeper insight and try to balance the pros and cons of a workplace can provide a more accurate picture of you. Also, long reviews are written by people who really care about their jobs and want to see real change. They are hoping their employers notice their comments and will adapt.

I actually know firsthand of employers who have changed their policies and hiring practices because of reviews posted on Glassdoor. For example, one employer was shocked to find that job applicants were upset by the amateurish ways interviews were being conducted. During an interview, the hiring manager would be openly reading the job candidate’s Facebook profile and asking ridiculous questions. The company quickly posted that the practices had changed. They even published the phone number of the HR department and encouraged anyone to call if they had any questions.

However, not all companies get the message. For example, one Washington, D.C. based company is consistently criticized in Glassdoor for canceling and then rescheduling job interviews at the last minute. I guess the HR director isn’t reading Glassdoor that often to change the bad practice or doesn’t care.

7). Consistency – with some reviews, you may see a pattern of good or bad comments. For example, if you keep reading about high turnover in the sales department, or a lack of direction from upper management throughout several reviews, then that’s a sign the company isn’t making progress. For example, several people at one company complained that the owners were socially awkward and inept, and thus were hard to work with.  On the other hand, several people at another company commented on the owner’s open-door policy, and his willingness to listen to advice.

On a personal note, I’ve used Glassdoor when applying for new jobs. I have found some of the reviews to be completely accurate, while others fell off the mark.

Glassdoor, like any job hunting tool, is a guide. While Glassdoor can give you a peek of what is going on behind a company’s closed doors, in the end, you still have to do some things the old fashion way – going on interviews, attending networking events, finding contacts within a company, working with recruiters, and doing basic research on Google.

For more information about Glassdoor and job hunting, please read the following articles –

“14 Little-Known Tricks to help you Land your Dream Job using Glassdoor,” by Julie Bort

“How Glassdoor’s Reviews Help you Find your Dream Job,” by Sarah K. White

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book – Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Should you write a Cover Letter?

A young woman who was working as an intern recently asked me if she should send a cover letter with her resume. Her internship was ending soon, and she was seeking a full-time job with benefits.

sending in a cover letterThe woman explained to me that she has been receiving mixed advice from her friends. Some told her not to waste her time sending in a cover letter because most hiring managers don’t read them anymore. Others told her that sending a cover letter would make her appear more professional.

Here is my answer – yes, you should definitely write a cover letter.

Here’s why – with HR and sales managers receiving hundreds of resumes a year, you need to do everything you can to distinguish yourself from the crowd. While it may be true that most hiring managers may not read (or at best just glance at) your letter, at least it will make you stand out.

Almost every employer and sales manager I have spoken to have told me that if a salesperson doesn’t send his cover letter along with his resume, that person’s job application is immediately deleted or ignored.

Even companies that give you the “option” of submitting a cover letter, I should still send one. Why?

Because the employer is testing you to see how professional and driven you are to succeed in sales. You see, if you are going to be lazy when it comes to job hunting by not sending a cover letter, you may be lazy when it comes to generating sales. Are you going to make only two sales calls or 8 to reach the decision-maker? Are you going to write short but interesting emails to your prospects, or copy and paste the same stale email that you are sending to everyone? Are you going to occasionally come in early and stay late to hit your quota, or are you just going to be a 9-to-5 employee?

Sometimes you have to take your own initiative. I once applied for a sales position for a start-up company that did not give you the option online to submit a cover letter. Yes, you had to complete an application and send in your resume, but it appeared that no cover letter was required.

Puzzled and confused, I found the email address of both the CEO and the HR Manager. I sent them both my resume and cover letter. I explained I was taking this action because I didn’t see a place to submit my cover letter. I further told them that I felt it would be unprofessional for me to just send them my resume without an attached letter.

A day later, the CEO apologized to me for not putting a cover letter option on the company’s website. A couple of days later, I received an email from the HR manager inviting me to take a phone interview.

In the eyes of both the CEO and HR manager, I showed them the initiative and willingness to go beyond the call of duty to apply for the job.

I passed the test.

writing a cover letter for a sales jobI once worked with an employer who gave all sales applicants an interesting test – before you sent in your cover letter and resume, you had to call a special phone number and leave a voicemail about a product or service that you were selling. It didn’t matter what product or service you were calling about, but you obviously had to sound enthusiastic and give a clear reason why the prospect would want to return your phone call. Once you left the message, you would then send you your cover letter and resume on the company’s website.

Would you believe that more than 80% of all job applicants did not follow instructions! They either didn’t bother to call and leave a message, or they only sent in their resume without their cover letter.

As a result, 80 % were put in the “delete pile” and were not called back.

While a cover letter (and resume) alone may not determine if you have the drive and determination to succeed in sales, first impressions do matter. Your cover letter and resume only give your potential employer a quick peek at who you are. But in most cases, sending in both a cover letter and resume is your only way of getting your foot in the door to get that first (and maybe several) interviews before getting the job offer.

In the age of Twitter and email, cover letters may be considered old fashion. And while most potential employers could probably read your LinkedIn profile to learn about you, sometimes it’s the little things that stand out.

Be old fashion. Be professional. Write a cover letter.

Here are two sites that I recommend on how to write a good cover letter –

“6 Secrets to Writing a Great Cover Letter,” by Seth Porges
“How to Write a Cover Letter” by Amy Gallo