The hiring haze—every small business owner has been there. You needed someone to start yesterday, but your budget is tight and your application stack is short. That’s why it’s no surprise hiring good employees is one of the most challenging parts of owning a small business.

But there’s a way to overcome it. And it involves a step you might not expect.

“I spent three years building a product that people loved and learned how to build, sell, and market that product,” says Ryan O’Neil, founder of Curate, a five-person software company. “I realized that we had to go through the same exact process to build a team—and part of that is marketing.”

His secret to selling a spot on his team? Glassdoor.

Glassdoor screen on laptop

Glassdoor is a jobs and recruiting site that allows interviewees, employees, and former employees to anonymously review companies and their management teams. Job seekers use it to:

  • Apply to jobs,
  • Research employers,
  • Prep for interviews, and
  • Explore the average salaries and benefits for their roles.

While giant companies are all over the site, more and more small businesses are realizing how powerful it can be. So we teamed up with the Glassdoor team to create a step-by-step overview specifically for small business owners.

In this guide, you’ll learn how Glassdoor can help prime job candidates find your company—and actually click “apply.”

How can I use Glassdoor to find talented employees?

The big-business methods of finding and hiring talentpaying staffing firms or headhunterscan be way too expensive and time-consuming for small businesses. While the average cost to hire an employee is $4,129, trust us—you don’t have to spend that much to find someone great.

The same way maintaining a social media presence can help customers discover your business, using sites like Glassdoor can make it easier and cheaper for you to find quality candidates—and for candidates to find you.

O’Neil explains, “Review sites work just as well, if not more so, for bringing on team members as they do for bringing on new customers. People trust others so much more than they do the HR guy.”

But let’s back up. Before you start recruiting, you need to polish your company’s online presence. Begin by doing these three things:

1. Build your employer brand on Glassdoor. (And yes, all small businesses have one.)

Employer branding is when you define, develop, and manage your company’s story.

But wait, isn’t that something only larger companies have to think about? Wrong.

As a small business, you already have a unique brand, whether you’re a neighborhood appliance store, ballet studio, or auto repair shop. Sharing your company’s mission, values, and culture can give potential hires a peek into what your company is like behind closed doors.

Starcity, a 25-person team that creates beautiful community homes in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, does a great job of highlighting their employer brand. They do the following:

  • Clearly state what they care about,
  • Interview employees about their favorite part of their job, and
  • Share a ton of pictures—both on their main site and job sites like Glassdoor.

Humanize your team by showing photos of them in your space. Show you care about the things applicants care about. When you know who you are and share it with the world, you’ll naturally attract applicants who are aligned with your values.

Starcity Glassdoor profile

For many candidates, the right mission and culture can seal the deal. “A lot of candidates mention that they saw our Glassdoor page and read the reviews,” says Marielle Smith, VP of people at GoodHire, a 130-person company that runs employee background checks.

They say that based on what they saw and read, it seems like the people here are happy and that the company is doing very well,” she tells us.

However, make sure you’re honest about everything you say about your business. “If you’re going to use Glassdoor, you need to be legit,” stresses O’Neil. “Be a genuinely good company that is upfront about who you are. You can’t game the system, because if you burn someone, they will own you online.”

2. Ask employees to review your business.

When you’re small, you might hear crickets in your Reviews section. Luckily, that’s only temporary. A great way to drum up reviews is to ask your current employees to review you.

This one’s tricky. You don’t want to get reviews that’ll damage your reputation, and you don’t want reviews that feel forced. So how do you get current employees to genuinely share what they think?

Consider incorporating Glassdoor reviews into your new hire onboarding process, like O’Neil does at Curate. During employees’ one-month review, consider saying:

Please take a moment to visit Glassdoor and post a review about your work experience over the last 90 days. This feedback will help us attract talented new employees (just like you!) who will help our company grow. Spend no more than 15 minutes on this. Remember all feedback is anonymous.

Your Glassdoor reviews are candid snapshots of how people feel about your company. Censoring people will backfire—and will only make them angrier.

Glassdoor reviews are 100 percent anonymous, so employees shouldn’t be scared of writing something genuine, getting caught, and being punished for what they’ve written. And of course, don’t try to piece together who said what in your reviews. That’s no good for anyone. 

3. Respond to reviews.

Whether your reviews are positive or negative, it’s important to take the time to respond so people can see you’re actually reading, listening, and most importantly, making changes.

To make it easy, subscribe to Company Alerts, a tool that notifies you about new company reviews, employee satisfaction scores, and CEO approval ratings, so you can respond right away.

  • Visit your Employer Center and choose how frequently you want to get alerts. Click on Settings > Email Preferences > Save Changes.
How to subscribe to Glassdoor Company Alerts part 1
  • A window will pop up where you can confirm the type of content you want and where the email address alerts should be sent to. Then click Save Changes.
How to subscribe to Glassdoor Company Alerts part 2

Not sure how to respond to critical reviews? Let’s take a look at a review that appeared on finder’s profile:

finder Glassdoor review

Now, check out Brodsky’s response.

finder Glassdoor review response

There are a few key things you can learn here.

Be kind.

Apologize for that person’s experience and thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts. The fact that someone spent the time to go to Glassdoor, type in your company name, and review you is huge. It shows that they truly care about their experience with your business. So keep that in mind as you craft your response.

Be direct and specific.

Instead of writing a canned response, Brodsky shows that he read the review thoroughly by addressing the writer’s specific complaints, point by point. Leave no part of the review unturned.

Correct any misconceptions.

Brodsky gently but directly addresses facts that the reviewer got wrong so that readers won’t get the wrong idea about finder. But he does it in a way that focuses on facts instead of emotions.

Try to take the conversation offline.

Brodsky encourages the reviewer to talk to management so they can fix the issue. Another strategy you can use is to suggest that the employee contacts your leadership team at a specific email address to take the discussion offline. This will enable you to give your employee a more actionable type of response.

4. Take the feedback you get seriously.

Responding to Glassdoor reviews can show job seekers—and employees—that you take feedback seriously and care about your team’s happiness. Encourage the team to share their honest opinions, and use the feedback to make your business—and the next review you get—way better.

Jon Brodsky, a country manager at finder, a personal finance comparison website, knows feedback can improve his company, even if it comes off as harsh.

“I make it a priority to read each comment posted on finder’s Glassdoor and will absolutely take on board feedback that is constructive and warranted. It has helped us streamline some HR processes and broaden training opportunities,” he explains.

How do I get started on Glassdoor?

Getting started on Glassdoor involves three main things.

1. Sign up for a free employer account.

First, claim your free employer account, which allows you to update information about your company, post news and photos, respond to reviews, and track candidate activity.

This is your portal into the Glassdoor universe.

To claim your account, you, your company’s HR person, marketing manager, or a member of your operations or executive team should complete the application. Pick whoever will be able to own the profile on an ongoing basis.

Glassdoor employer profile sign-up page

The form asks for standard information like your name, work email, company name, job title, and the number of job openings you have. Glassdoor will review your applicationwhich can take up to two business daysand you’ll receive an email with your login information.

2. Fill out your profile.

Once you get your login information, fill out every section of your profile. And if you don’t know the information, find people who do.

While job seekers care about basic information like compensation and benefits, many also care about the more nuanced stuff, like your company culture and mission. Be sure to point out everything that makes you unique.

For example, the Gusto Glassdoor profile shares the mission and values along with highlighting valuable benefits like 100 percent coverage of health insurance premiums.

Gusto Glassdoor profile - Benefits section

3. Post your first job.

Navigate to the homepage and click on Post Jobs Free in the white bar in the upper right-hand corner. Add your company, job location, work email, and then click Start Your Free Trial.

  • Fill out your Job Details.
    • Click Next: Job Description
  • Now add your job description and how you want your candidates to apply.
    • Click Next: Select Plan
  • Pick the plan that makes the most sense for your size and hiring needs.
    • Click Start Free Trial
  • Enter your contact information.
    • Click Next: Payment
  • Enter your payment information.
    • Click Complete Purchase.

How can I encourage job seekers to apply?

Four out of five people go online when searching for a job, and 85 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In other words, reviews matter.

In fact, the information job seekers glean from Glassdoor often comes out during interviews.

“Almost all of our candidates mention our Glassdoor page and/or reviews during their interviews,” says O’Neil. “They’ve said that based on what they’ve seen on Glassdoor, they love how people love our company.”

But getting people to apply may require some work. To increase your chances, try the following techniques:

1. Emphasize your perks.

As a small business, it can seem tough to compete with larger businesses that may be able to pay more or offer better benefits. But your company is attractive in ways you may never have thought of. To remain competitive, emphasize the perks of working at a small business, such as:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Closer relationships with leaders
  • Being able to influence the direction and success of the business
  • More say in how you operate
  • A tight-knit team

For job seekers tired of just being another face in the crowd, these perks could outweigh other factors.

And rememberyou don’t just have to write about these benefits. Paint a vivid picture of your company’s culture with, well, pictures (and videos) featuring your team. For example, finder has over 20 photos of their modern office, delicious snacks, close-knit team, and fun events like trick-or-treating for Halloween:

2. Play around with the language in your job description

Be thoughtful about how you frame your open roles. Just one bullet point could make or break a candidate’s willingness to apply. When writing a job description, remember these best practices:

Use “you” statements.

Help candidates envision what it’ll be like working in this role and contributing to your business. It’s also important to focus on the opportunity, not the immediate task at hand.

  • Instead of saying: “This person will report to the CEO and will be tasked with customer service.”
  • Say this: “In this role, you’ll report to the CEO, and work with the team to create better experiences for our customers.”

Remove gender bias.

Be mindful of keeping titles and job descriptions gender neutral. Words that may seem harmless, like “superhero” and “ninja,” are often considered masculine terms and can also make it less likely for qualified candidates to discover your role in their job search.

Aim for neutral, descriptive titles like “project manager” or “developer.” Diverse teams help your business thrive, so it’s important to encourage everyone to apply. 

Keep A/B testing.

You never know which details will attract your ideal candidate, so if you’re having trouble filling a role, experiment with different titles and descriptions.

For example, if the candidates applying for your “marketing specialist” job are too junior, try changing the title to “marketing manager” and adjust the years of experience and qualifications.

3. Test out targeted ad campaigns on Glassdoor.

Targeted ads have a few huge benefits. In addition to advertising your jobs on competitors’ profiles (and preventing them from advertising on yours), you can make sure your ideal candidates see your open positions by targeting job searchers by location, industry, and role.

Before you begin posting and promoting jobs, do these three things:

Set a goal so you know whether your campaigns are working and worth repeating.

Is your goal to get your cost-per-hire under a certain amount? Hire as soon as possible? Retain employees for at least a year? Make your goal specific, like “I want to use Glassdoor to fill my three most critical roles within two months for under $5,000.” That way it’s easier to determine whether it was a success.

Keep track of important numbers.

This can include your:

Compare campaigns and recruiting methods to see which works best for your business.

Remember to consider the entire process when you compare campaigns and methods. If one ad got 100 applicants to apply, but only five were worth talking to, it might not be as effective as you thought.

4. Keep improving your recruiting and interview process.

If you get loads of applications but have trouble actually hiring people, something is up. Consider spending time on the following things to see if they make a difference:

Always follow up.

When a candidate writes a negative review on Glassdoor about their interview experience with a company, it’s often to complain about never hearing back. Not following up can hurt a company’s chances of hiring quality candidates. So if a job seeker took the time to apply, don’t ghost them.

Even if you’re not interested, let them know so they can move on—it only takes a minute to send a quick email. Copy these email templates so you can quickly respond in a variety of situations. And if you are interested, don’t take forever to respond. Chances are, other companies are interested as well.

Make sure interviewers are prepared.

The interview is one of the candidate’s first impressions of your business, and it can impact how they’ll review their experience on Glassdoor. Make sure everyone on the interview panel is prepped, has read the job description and candidate’s resume, has personalized questions, and arrives on time.

To keep everyone on the same page, consider creating a shareable document that outlines the role along with how each candidate should be assessed.  

Ask better questions.

To weed out candidates who aren’t a good fit, ask questions like:

 – Specifically, why are you interested in joining the team?

– What makes you a good fit for this role?
– Describe the type of work environment that makes you the most productive.

– What are the most positive parts of your current job, or the last position you held before coming to this interview?

– What is the most important thing that needs to be present at work for you to be successful?

– What have you learned about us that makes you stoked to join the team?

If the candidate researched your company, (Glassdoor allows past interviewees to share what questions they were asked), they should be able to share why they’re the right person for your team.

How should I use Glassdoor as my business grows?

Even if you’re not looking to hire, it’s important to remain active on Glassdoor by doing the following:

Update your profile information to include key developments and milestones.

Keep interested applicants informed by sharing big updates as soon as they happen. This can include things like:

  • Opening a new location
  • Leadership changes
  • Rolling out a new employee benefit

Add awards you’ve picked up.

Is your small business one of the fastest growing companies in your town? Did your CEO get honored at a recent community event? Are you one of Glassdoor’s best places to work? Every quarter, take stock of your awards and get your humblebrag on.

Upload pictures.

Whether you’ve just renovated your office, had a holiday party, or your team went paintballing, aim to upload new photos every few months so job seekers can get a glimpse into your company culture.

Upgrade to a paid account if you want to get serious about advertising.

With an Enhanced Profile, you can protect your page from competitors’ job ads while advertising your jobs on those competitors’ pages. This helps keep your company top-of-mind as job seekers explore what’s out there—a good option to consider when you’re in a hiring crunch.

All of the things above can help future job seekers get an accurate picture of how your business is doing—and understand why they should take a second look at your job postings.

As an added bonus, updating your page and continually encouraging employees to leave reviews can help with your SEO efforts, as Google heavily weights user-generated content. In other words, your Glassdoor profile is more likely to show up in search results if it’s completely filled out and includes a lot of reviews.

Glassdoor is the look into your company that candidates and employees crave. With this guide, you’ll be able to apply all that goodness to your small business, making it easier to fill those tricky roles—while helping your employees stick around.

All you have to do is open that door and step inside.

1 This feature is only available for standard and select employers, and will only apply to competitors that do not have a paid Glassdoor profile. 

Jenna Lee Jenna Lee has been writing about finance for over six years. Her work has been featured on U.S. News and World Report, The Huffington Post, Credit Karma, and more.
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