Editor's Desk|Canadian HR Law|HR Policies & Practices|Employment Law|The C-Suite|HR Guest Blog|(Former) Publisher's Desk

Forget technology – the heart of recruitment will never change

Ratings websites for employers, managers provide outlets to vent – and little value
Now hiring
There are plenty of places to research employers, and even bosses, online. But nothing will ever be as effective as a face-to-face interview. Shutterstock.com

By Todd Humber

Websites that rate employers can be extremely useful tools for jobseekers. Glassdoor is one of dozens of places candidates can go to find the downlow on what it’s really like to work for a company — the good, the bad and the ugly.

But these sites also have significant baggage. First, they tend to attract more disgruntled employees than anything else — it’s rare for a happy, engaged star to pass the time praising her employer online. No, like most things in dot-com, it attracts the trolls and those with an axe to grind.

Second, the information and experience can be very specific to a department or individual manager. Large organizations, claim as they might, don’t have one corporate culture. Instead, they have dozens of micro-cultures – good and bad – that mean the experience of one employee can be drastically different than another.

I might say I love working at Thomson Reuters because my immediate boss is fantastic — but a colleague down the hall, in another department with a tyrannical micromanager, might claim it is akin to a toxic sweatshop. And we could both be right.

Some websites have tried to account for this by allowing employees to rate their immediate bosses. Which, in theory, sounds great. But it also sounds like a potential libel risk — people often get very personal and inappropriate with online criticism.

RateMyBoss.com is one such website — and its database currently has ratings on nearly 83,000 managers. A quick browse shows a ton of bad ratings. A worker at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Toronto slammed his boss because “you have to fight with him for months/years to get your annual raise that you’re actually entitled to by the company.”

A manager at Vision Critical in Vancouver was rated poorly because he is “lacking in management skills” and “talks down to staff.”

Salacious, maybe, if you know the individuals. But how useful is any of this in deciding to take a job? If one person is unhappy with his manager, it doesn’t mean the other 10 employees who report to her don’t adore her style and leadership.

A more recent entry to this space is Completed.com. It’s akin to a Glassdoor for individuals. You can create your own profile, gather ratings – which the site calls “fair and unbiased” – and is billed as a panacea for employers attempting to conduct due diligence on candidates.

Its mission is to “create the most comprehensive profile of an individual on the internet. A Completed Profile will show the full person including constructive feedback that identifies their strengths and weaknesses, helping people improve themselves while at the same time opening the door to opportunities for other people to engage with them in a positive manner.”

It’s early days, so we shall see if it catches on and avoids the common and predictable pitfalls.

I wrote recently about a website called TheLayoff.com. It’s a gossip page where people can comment anonymously about restructurings at their organizations. If your company is going through turmoil, you can bet it has a page on The Layoff.

Most of the comments are focused on speculation about office closings and what jobs might be impacted. It fills the vacuum of silence that too often comes from management during times of change. The accuracy of many comments is suspect, but it’s a place for workers to vent and try to scrape together information in stressful times.

But some of the comments I’ve seen are personal attacks on specific managers and leaders, with the anonymous commenters calling them out by name. That’s not helpful to anyone, and it seems that the people running The Layoff have gotten the message – as recent posts are complaining about censorship and post deletions.

We say this all the times in the pages of Canadian HR Reporter, but people are complicated. There is no foolproof way for jobseekers to know they’ve found the perfect job, or employers to know they have the best hire, until the person is clocked in and sitting at the desk.

The best HR practices on this front are the tried-and-true ones: criminal checks, credit checks and education verification can confirm the basics. Calling references, and asking probing questions, provides even more depth.

Nothing, though, can beat the face-to-face interview. Candidate, manager and HR seated together – chatting about the specifics of the job, the organization and the candidate’s skillset. Once you cut through all the noise and clutter, that remains the heart of recruitment.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the former publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
CLICK TO COMMENT ON THIS BLOG POST
(Required)
(Required, will not be published)
(Required)
All comments are moderated and usually appear within 24 hours of posting. Email address will not be published.