Creating Connections That Matter: Will Glassdoor Ever Adopt the Netflix Model?

Holland Dombeck McCue A.I., Google for Jobs, Holland Dombeck 2 Comments

Two topics that have been gracing the HR and recruiter headlines lately – for better or worse are Glassdoor’s sale to Recruit Holdings and AI.

For me, Glassdoor is a partner I love to hate. I love that it’s a channel that leadership “gets” and wants to talk about related to my area of work, but I hate it because it’s really damn expensive on the pay-to-play side, preventing it from reaching full penetration with EB/RM shops and delivering universal value to candidates.

With their recent acquisition there’s been a lot of speculation online and in casual practitioner conversations of what’s going to happen with Glassdoor – is their solution going to merge with Indeed’s fully? Will Indeed scrap their employer pages? Is Google for Jobs for going to give Glassdoor jobs listings the boot?

But the one thing that’s top of my mind is will Glassdoor use this time to reinvent themselves? Because they should – and they should take a hat tip from Netflix while they do.

In 2005 Netflix’s VP of Product, Gibson Biddle, asked his CEO, Reed Hastings, what he hoped his legacy would be. His answer: “Consumer science.” He explained, “Leaders like Steve Jobs have a sense of style and what customers seek, but I don’t. We need consumer science to get there.”

“His vision was that product leaders at Netflix would develop remarkable consumer insight, fueled by results and learning from thousands of experiments,” shared Biddle.

One of the experiments that took the main stage was the replacement of Netflix’s five-star rating system to a percent algorithm match for consumers on the likelihood they would enjoy the content based on past consumption patterns.

From Nir and Far:

Netflix’s original hypothesis was that the more high-quality movies members watched (as measured by high star average), the better they would retain. This notion was consistent with what customers said in qualitative. Unfortunately, the data did not prove this out. Over time, higher average ratings for members did not lead to higher retention.

In shifting to “percentage match,” Netflix acknowledged that while you may rate a “leave your brains at the door” Adam Sandler comedy only three stars, you enjoy watching it. And as much as you feel good about watching “Schindler’s List,” and give it five stars, it doesn’t increase your overall enjoyment. (The movie is a bit of a downer.)

With AI at the forefront of people’s minds – and in every single vendor pitch deck whether their solution has an AI tie or not – Glassdoor has a prime opportunity to rethink their platform and the value it can deliver to both candidates and organizations.

While a rudimentary AI-backed solution, I would love to see Glassdoor move to a matching algorithm that helps candidates make informed decisions about who to work for during their time of reinvention. Instead of sticking with their five-star model, make the shift to serving up companies they would be a fit for based on inputs they enter and review data that matches. If we could get to a place where over time organizations also experienced a lift in retention rates as a result of this shift, like those seen at Netflix on the consumer side, I would also stop complaining about the price of their product.

P.S. Shout out to my friend Kenny over at ThreeSixtyEight for turning me on the Nir and Far piece. Good stuff.

Holland Dombeck McCue
Holland Dombeck McCue is the former editor turned blogger here at Fistful of Talent. She plays in the employment branding and B2B marketing space and currently heads up Recruitment Marketing and Global Employment Branding for Delta Air Lines. So, it goes without saying that the opinions shared on FOT are hers and hers alone. She wishes it could go without saying, but hey, Legal runs a tight ship…

Comments 2

  1. This is a deep post for sure.

    You’re asking for a lot of vision. At the end of the day, isn’t the Glassdoor model based on aggregating eyeballs per the car-wreck nature of the shitty review (improving for sure in the review economy we now live in and more balanced, but still…) and then trying to monetize those eyeballs by ransoming for employer brand services and job postings?

    Aren’t you asking them to start serving candidates? What would the algo be based on?

    I like the thought a lot. It just seems like a big jump.

    1. KD – Thanks for challenging my Pollyanna-ish views. You are correct; Glassdoor first broke on the scene by generating eyeballs – from candidates and employers – on train wreck reviews, eventually getting employers to pay top dollar to better control the message with deeper insights and branding through their paid model. However, with Farigodboss, Comparably, Kununu, etc., they are no longer the only player in this space and need, IMO, a differentiator.

      So, yes, I’m challenging them to make a slight pivot and better serve the candidates. Their mission, as quoted on their About Us page, is “To help people everywhere find jobs and companies they love,” and I’m suggesting they do just that in a contemporary way.

      I think there is some low hanging fruit out there to help Glassdoor get this algorithm rolling. For example, about a year ago they rolled out the ability for employers to list out key benefits they offer to their employees. One way they could slice this is a short “about me” type gamified survey that candidates fill out when they complete their profiles (something that’s already required to view reviews) that is percent matched with data that the employer puts in, and/or is pulled from existing reviews on their site. I would also think the reviews side of the house could move to a simple thumbs up or down vs. their current five-star model, for many of the same reasons Netflix moved away from this model on the consumer side.

      It’s totally a big jump, but in today’s attention strapped world, would candidates rather scroll through reviews on their own across a bunch of employers? Or complete a fun little “where should I work” quiz and be served up employers where they would be a fit? I’m putting my money on the latter.

      Side note – Their pay-for-play model is based on employee count, which I’m also calling BS on. Just because I have 80K employees, doesn’t mean I have any more budget than someone with 5K employees. Their essentially helping employers who have the deepest pockets today, which I 100% get, but I also think the EB space needs an infusion of altruism, and who better to lead it than sites claiming to serve the candidate.

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