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Innovative Recruiting Enabler Brings In Its First CFO

Glassdoor.com's new finance chief describes how the company built a business around user-contributed reviews of employers.

Are you familiar with Glassdoor.com? If not, you should be. You can find out what your employees are saying about your company. If you care about that sort of thing, that is.

On Glassdoor, present and past employees can publish anonymous reviews about a company. Just be prepared: It might not be all roses and chocolate.

What Glassdoor actually wants most is to interest you in its talent and employer-branding solutions (like clickable employer ads on the platform), which is where its revenue comes from. But let’s stay with the company reviews for a bit first, since it’s a sexy topic.

A fairly obvious question is this: Wouldn’t human nature dictate that the review capability would mostly draw the interest of the disgruntled? The malcontents with axes to grind? Every company has those, of course, but can we really expect the reviews on Glassdoor to proportionately represent the opinions of a company’s employees?

Glassdoor.com's first CFO, Adam Spiegel

Glassdoor.com’s first CFO, Adam Spiegel

Adam Spiegel is glad we posed the question. Just starting his third week as the company’s first CFO and armed with statistics, he says, “It’s a good question that gets asked all the time. We have 22 million members, and among everyone who has shared a review, 70 percent are either OK with or satisfied in their jobs. Which sounds about right.”

Glassdoor reaches out to two audiences. On the front end, it aims to help job seekers find what they’re looking for. It accomplishes this primarily through user-generated content. Site users not only post reviews, they can also upload work-site photos and, most intriguingly, their salaries. The site contains six million pieces of user-generated content on 300,000 companies, Glassdoor says.

But, tell you how much money they make? Why would the site visitors do that?

“We have what we call a give-to-get model,” Spiegel says. “If you’re a product manager and want to find out about product-manager salaries at Cisco [Systems], the site will give you a little bit of information. But it’s going to ask for your information, too, and once you give it to us, you get unfettered access to all our data. That’s what feeds our engine.”

Glassdoor uses the information to supply recruiting capabilities to its other audience — employers. It currently has about 1,500 customers, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Nordstrom, Pepsico, PNC Bank, Shell, VMWare and WalMart.

CFO can’t vouch for the efficacy of Glassdoor’s business model, but it does sound like an innovative way to potentially deliver solid job candidates who could be hired at a low cost.

“People who come to our site can see all kinds of information about companies they’re interested in,” Spiegel says. “They can become highly educated about a company, and the role they’re looking for at that company, before clicking on a job ad.”

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