This is How Job Seekers Can Miss a Great Career Opportunity

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Do your homework before the interview.| AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

Before you apply for a job do you check the company’s employee rating on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed? Many applicants use employer ratings based on staff feedback to help them determine if they will (or won’t) apply for a job, according to a new survey by Monster and partner company kununu.

When it comes to the five-star rating system, Monster found that close to 40% of the 756 they polled said they would only apply to a company with at least a three-star rating. Furthermore, 33% said they would not apply to a company with bad employee reviews, whereas 27% said even if the employer has bad employee reviews and is low rated, they’d still apply.

Is this the best way to approach a new job? Not really, according to kununu CEO, Moritz Kothe. Reviews are helpful but taking them at face value may actually prevent you from finding that dream job. You need to dig deeper. Here’s how you can use an employer rating system to your advantage.

What is considered to be a good rating?

Approximately 2% said they would only apply to a company with a perfect, five-star rating. But a decent number of applicants wouldn’t even consider a company with bad employee reviews. Are they missing out? You betcha. “Most people don’t realize that a three-star review is actually quite good,” Kothe says. “This shows that the company understands what employees want day to day and that they are trying to implement the best culture possible.”

How should job seekers view company ratings?

Before you disregard a company because it received bad reviews, consider what you want from an employer. “Honestly, the best thing a candidate can do is have an understanding of what about a work environment is most important to them including what are the deal-breakers versus areas in which the candidate can be flexible,” Kothe advises. “This will prompt the questions that are most important to that candidate’s conversation.”

Also, how the reviewer views the company may differ from what you seek from the employer. “The issue that a reviewer has, may not affect the candidate in the same way, or the company has taken steps to improve the situation, however, it’s important to be upfront and have a conversation about their concerns,” Kothe says.

How to consider negative reviews

Step back and understand what about that negative comment might impact your experience and value set, Kothe says. “For example, if a review reads that work-life balance doesn’t exist or employees are expected to be there longer than eight hours a day, this, unfortunately, may be the case,” he explains. “However, it’s an opportunity for the candidate to show they’ve done some research and want to understand the company’s point of view.”

Seek the employer’s side of the story too

In the case of negative reviews, check to see if the employer responded to the negative comment. If the company uses the feedback to make changes, the applicant can see that the employer cares about the employees. “Most times fixes like this are not as simple,” Kothe says. “But this is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to making a decision about whether an organization is the best fit.”

But this may be a red flag

A few bad reviews are one thing. But many reviews with the same concerns may mean a true issue hasn’t been addressed, Kothe says. “The dimensions that are most important to a candidate will align with their own personal value set,” he said. “But a candidate has every right to address issues that clearly come up again and again in reviews.”

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