How to Write an Effective Employee Review

There are multiple sites available which allow current and former employees to review their job and employer. Two that I have used are Indeed and Glassdoor. These sites allow reviews of all kinds (within common-sense parameters) and claim not to delete or censore unfavorable reviews. Some parameters include people’s names cannot be used in a derogatory manner, probably to deter innocent people from being maligned, as well as the site from being sued. So you can complain about “management”, but not about “Susy”. Bad language is not allowed. Don’t use the sites to report crimes. I have written both largely-positive and largely-negative reviews about my workplaces and believe I have some wisdom to impart on the topic.

But why write a review in the first place? To begin, it helps others who might be considering applying to a certain job ad or company. I often search for reviews before applying, myself, concentrating especially on those reviews where the reviewer has specified that they hold/held the specific role in which I am interested. Second, writing a review can be used in lieu of talking to your bosses or coworkers directly, which could put you in a precarious position. Unless you belong to a union or have a contract, voicing a less-than-complimentary opinion about your workplace could result in your demotion or firing.

Now that we have gone over the motivations for writing a review about one’s work place, let’s cover what an effective review is and what it is NOT. First, an effective review is not emotionally charged. Rather, it is done at a time when logic rather than emotions are in control. For example, “This place sucks! Remember, I warned you!” is unhelpful, unconvincing, and makes the reader wonder if the writer is simply experiencing “sour grapes”. Instead, an effective review might include, “This workplace shorts me on my check every pay period”.

Second, it is not vague. Rather, it includes enough detail to convince the reader of your point and aid them in comprehension. For example, “This place is so unorganized” or “This job is my favorite one so far” is not effective, unless that is a topic sentence and you plan to elaborate further. Instead, an effective review might include, “Three times in the six months I have been working here, they called a meeting I was expected to attend, but never notified me of the date or time”. Granted, this might mean the review is rather long; however, it will be more helpful to readers.

Third, do not reference specific people. Not only will doing so ensure your review never actually makes it onto the site, but it can lead to drama you don’t want to have to deal with, especially if you cannot prove your assertions. For example, instead of saying, “Tom Smith sexually harassed me” or “Judy in HR did nothing about me being sexually harassed”, say “HR turned a deaf ear to me when I reported being sexually harassed by a coworker”.

Fourth, if you still work there, do not include any details that would give away it is you writing the review, unless of course you’re only saying positive things about the company. So if you’re the only one with a specific title (operations manager, for example) or the only one who doesn’t work Friday (and you post the review on a Friday), it will be obvious it is you.

Fifth, make sure to include your job title and location. A worker bee might have a very different experience than a higher-up. And a location in one area might have far different working conditions than another location.

Sixth, even if you hated a certain job or workplace, include the pros as well as the cons. Try to think objectively to include some pros because it will make your review more believable. After all, if there were no pros, you probably wouldn’t have stayed.

Seventh, realize that a company can petition the site’s records with a court order to identify who you are if they want to sue you for defamation. Especially in a situation where you are accusing them of breaking the law, make sure you have something to back it up. Defamation includes statements that can be proven to have hurt the business that are UNTRUE.

Eighth, check your spelling, grammar, and sentence syntax. A sloppily-written review will not be taken as seriously as a well-written one that makes it appear the writer took pride in their composition.

I am thankful that, especially in this day and age of degraded employee protections, we as workers have a safe, anonymous outlet to let others know about our on-the-job experiences. However, it is important to take advantage of this outlet in a healthful and responsible fashion.

Have you ever reviewed your company on one of these sites? What were your motivations and how did it make you feel afterwards? What was the outcome, if any?