Thursday, August 28, 2014

What to wear to an interview

This is one of those questions I hear from candidates over and over again. Sometimes I find it stressful picking out an outfit for just a regular old work day. Adding the stress of first impressions and the possibility of sweating? Yeah, that kind of ups the fashion stakes.

As per usual, I have taken the opportunity to over-analyze; in this case, it's the choice of interview day couture.

1) No matter what, unless you commit a major fashion felony, you're OK. I mean, nobody is going to care about our interview fashion choices as much as you do.

I imagine that companies doing plenty of hiring have a steady stream of candidates coming through their doors. And at the end of the day, they want to hire you for what's inside your head, not what's on your body. So just realize that you care more about what you wear than your interviewers do. As long as you don't wear anything completely nuts, they won't even remember what you were wearing the next day.

2) Dressing for comfort is a requirement.

This one is a non-negotiable, folks. You are not going to do well in an interview if you aren't comfortable. Tight waistband, itchy fabric, shoes that are squeezing the bajezus out of your feet. Yeah, those should never happen. This is why I recommend doing dry run with your outfit of choice well ahead of time (but not so far ahead of time that might result in clothes fitting differently). Even you dudes. Whatever you do, give yourself enough time to go shopping and have something altered if you absolutely need to. Then put on your outfit and stand up and sit down. Cross your legs, lean back. Still OK? Good.

Also, think through what your day might be like. Are you interviewing with a company that has a "campus" like Amazon or Microsoft? You might be walking so comfortable footwear is key. Is the company super casual? Is it even possible that a bean bag will be sat in at some point? Maybe a suit would feel a little weird in that situation.

3) When in doubt, dress a little better than you think your interviewers will.

This is always my go-to rule for deciding what exactly to wear. I take what I know about the typical attire at the company and I step it up. Heck, go stalk their building(s) to see what people have on. Then dress just a little bit better. Not flashy better, just more buttoned up. Wear something that puts you in an interviewing state-of-mind.

So, if you are a developer and your colleagues might be wearing this:
(Photo credit: The Muse, Decoded company profile)

Then maybe you think about wearing this:

Let's do it again. Them:
                                                           (Photo credit:

Ladies, them:
(Source:, Mutual Mobile profile)

                                                              (Source: hello gorgeous)
I've heard other recruiters tell candidates to dress just like the rest of the folks that work at the company so you "fit in" and I get what they are saying but the thing is that the people who you are trying to make a good impression on already know you don't have the job yet. As a recruiter, what I wanted to see was someone who was taking the interviews seriously, that they made an effort. I don't want to see a suit, I want to see polish and effort. And please...
  • No flashy jewelry or makeup
  • Wear deodorant and no bed head (check your look from the back, yo)
  • No heavy cologne or perfume
  • No ripped or distressed anything
  • No t-shirts
  • Athletic shoes of the fashion variety only (if you must) and they have to be impeccably clean
  • Do your ironing the night before and have a back-up
I'll let you know if I get any other perspectives of advice from recruiters on this. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sometimes the most direct route is around something.

This is the blog post I wish I'd written. Liz Ryan writes about the idea of networking directly with hiring managers and skipping the job site "black hole". While I don't agree that every job site is a resume super nova (in fact, I do know some companies where recruiters are required to review every resume submitted for a position), I know what it's like to be a recruiter at an employer whose every job posting gets hundreds, if not thousands, of resume submissions. Using searches to cut through the bulk was a necessity; it was a survival skill.

I always engaged my hiring teams as partners in the process of finding candidates. And so when a manager said "I have a candidate for this position," I was thrilled. They were holding up their end of the bargain by also being talent finders. Plus they knew that if they brought that candidate on campus for anything even resembling an interview without me kicking off the process, I would hunt them down, because you just do not mess with legal compliance. I'm boring that way.

So the scenario where a candidate reaches out to a manager with a compelling message about why they can help relieve that manager of some of the job pain they are in? I am all for that biznaz. You're not working around recruiting, you are networking with hiring authorities. And frankly, you are getting your resume viewed by one of the key deciders. You should go do this. I still recommend you work through official processes as well, but definitely be networking like this.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sometimes resumes are cold. Here's an option for sharing a little more about who you really are with the (hiring) world.

OK, resumes are cold pretty much all the time - intentionally so. I mean, you are asking someone to get to know you on the basis of the facts related to your background: where you've worked and when, what you were responsible for. As someone who currently works in digital marketing (right now, I am working with Amazon's Consumer Division on their employment brand strategy), I do find the resume and even the LinkedIn profile a little limiting when it comes to showing an employer who you really are. It's like you need an extra place for all the other awesome you've got going on. Resumes lack the kind of appeal we expect in marketing, so maybe you want to think about how you are marketing your personal brand outside of your resume.

I like to think of the resume as simply a calling card - it's a foot in the door that invites further conversation. When I think about my own resume and compare it to the reasons why my clients hire me, well, there's just something missing. Kind of the essence of who I am as a person. You can only put so much of that into a resume before it looks a little nuts. So I try to put that stuff elsewhere, where potential clients can find it (I even point them to it). And that is personal branding. I know it sounds like a BS term but we all have personal brands - a personal brand is the reason why someone would want to consider you for anything (as a potential employee, date, friend or networking partner - what have I forgotten?). You can ignore it if you want because it sounds like a lot of work to build one. But you have one whether you nurture it or not.

I'm not going to recommend that you start tweeting or fill Facebook with boring articles related to your work. Frankly, if you aren't already doing those things, it's probably because you don't have lots of time and the amount of effort it takes to build up a personal brand on Twitter, for example, could take longer than your job search. Good long-term strategy but not super helpful right now.

 A few months ago, I was sitting with a friend who wanted to easily communicate an aspect of her work but she didn't want to put it on her web page as the focus of the work was inconsistent with her day job. She just needed a little pop-up space to talk about  this new work area - someplace she could point people to. The site I recommended to her is also one you can use as a place to develop your personal brand. It's You can set up a single page and tell the world a little about yourself. It's creative and fun. I use mine as a hub for my professional social media accounts - check it out here if you want. I also set one up for my business in case I want a little more polished version and don't want to send someone to my website -you know if I just want to deliver  my elevator pitch and links to my social media accounts. recently added a new feature called Backstory that  let's you add details of your professional history, similar to LinkedIn. I don't think is going to rival LinkedIn any time soon for the attention of recruiters; I should be clear about that. But I do think it's a great place to point people that might have an interest in learning more about you. I include my link in my auto signature. I expect very little organic traffic to this page so it's all about sending folks there myself. It's my "get to know me!"

If you want to have a little fun and have some time to spare (and let me point out that you are already in the interwebz so you have time to spare, friend), sign up for an account (it's freeeeee!) and hit the discover link at the top. You can see what other people are doing with their pages. You might be inspired. I think you'll definitely notice that you feel you get to know people better on an page than only a resume or LinkedIn profile (it's a great compliment to those other 2 things, not an alternative).

Besides, what else were you planning to do with the single best photos of yourself that you have ever had taken? It's sitting on your desktop right now, right?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Asking interview questions right back

In Pretty In Pink, Andie had the hots for Blane, the popular, rich kid. Adorable Ducky was on his own (poor Ducky). It's a perhaps sad piece of sociology that has people wanting most what they can't have; a little natural selection meets Mean Girls. And there's proof in my closet that when things are in demand by other people, you somehow end up wanting them more. Evidence: two pairs of Uggs. Don't judge.

I mentioned before that it's important in an interview for you to present yourself as someone who is in demand; someone who has choices.And part of doing that is ensuring that as a company interviews you, you interview them right back. Not like conducting a skills evaluation of the person on the other side of the table, but asking the kind of questions that helps you evaluate if this company is someplace where you will do your best work and be happy. You MUST go into an interview situation ready to ask some questions.

Kelly over at Brazen Careerist has 6 questions that you can use in an interview to uncover the types of information that you need to make a good decision (remember, you're in demand, you badass, you) and get the interviewer to imagine you in the job.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

None of these answers to interview questions are acceptable, though we appreciate your ability to cut the bull.

That LinkedIn link on your resume? No bueno.

There's a trend I've been seeing lately and I've got an opinion on it. People are adding a link to their LinkedIn profile on their resumes and I don't like it, 99% of the time. Do. Not. Like.

I think about the resume as real estate and space is at a premium. If you put something on there, there has to be a reason and you need to focus on what your audience wants and what best positions you - everything else is just taking up space. I guess LinkedIn is kind of the de facto online profile, so folks think it's logical to put a link along with contact info but it's rarely a good idea. Here's why:

1) Usually, the resume is a more detailed version of a person's background than LinkedIn. Unless there's additional biographical info on LinkedIn that isn't on the resume, what is the point? The one exception I could think of is if you have a white paper or something on your LinkedIn profile. But even then, it would make sense to just link to the document.

2) Resumes generally get scanned into databases and lose hyperlinks. Searching their internal resume databases is how many recruiters will come across your info. So if you hyperlinked text in your resume to your LinkedIn profile, it won't work in the scanned version and if you paste the full url (especially if you haven't customized your url), it just looks messy. Recruiters are experts at searching and they will have no problem finding you on LinkedIn if they have a burning question about the size of your network or what recommendations you solicited from people you work with (which are all viewed with a grain of salt anyway).

3) The biggest reason not to add your LinkedIn profile to your resume has to do with stickiness, a concept from web content development. When a website is sticky, it is so engaging that it keeps the user on the site. In general, that attention is thought to increase the likelihood of additional clicks and/or conversion - it makes good things happen for you. Essentially, it keeps the users attention on the site because once you send them off it, you lose control of the content that is being served up. Now if you think similarly about your resume; you want to recruiter or hiring manager to spend time reading your resume. Once you send them somewhere else (like LinkedIn), you are inviting competition for their attention. LinkedIn throws a whole bunch of distraction at them. The reader might come back to your resume or they might click on links they see under "Similar Profiles" or "People Also Viewed" or they may think "hmm, maybe it's a good time to do some searches on LinkedIn" or "I wonder what my ex-boyfriend is doing for work these days" or "who is looking at my profile?".

So I generally advocate for leaving the LinkedIn link off the resume, unless your job is writing LinkedIn profiles.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The real interview question disguised as a softball question

In my previous life as a recruiter, I spent many hours interviewing candidates. And I prided myself on the fact that I actually interviewed candidates.No BS HR screen for me. I mean, yeah, tell me about what you did and what you're looking for, but that's just the beginning of the conversation. My role in that part of the conversation was just transcriptionist. I wasn't adding value until you made me think. Also, up until that point I was kind of bored.

The last thing I ever wanted to do was waste peoples' time with unnecessary interviews. I thought of the hiring teams and the candidates as my clients and I only moved people through the process when I felt confident they would perform well in an interview. When they didn't, I thought back on my conversations with them to figure out if there was something I missed. My goal was to get the hiring teams to forego the second phone interview and bring candidates in for interviews based on my recommendation.

So anyway, I think softball questions are fine as a warm-up, but they're kind of like first date chit-chat; if we can't get past it, this isn't going anywhere. And these questions generally do little to help candidates get their heads in the interview game - another thing I think that recruiters should be helping with. On the other hand, sometimes actual, valuable interview questions come disguised as softballs. Like they're baseballs in softball clothing or something. Metaphors are hard. Or maybe, depending on the quality of the recruiter asking the question, they are intended to be softballs but they give you an opportunity to shine like the badass you are.

One of these questions is "Why are you interested in this company?" Simple, right? I mean, like borderline fluffy. But for me, this question was an important one and chances are, if you are talking to good recruiters while you interview, it's important to them too. Here's why...

First, as a recruiter, I want to gauge how serious you are about your interviewing. If you haven't really given this some thought and/or done some research, I'm not convinced that you are serious. And putting you into an interview situation under those circumstances is risky.

Second, the best candidates are in demand and they have criteria. They apply those criteria against the many opportunities that they may be considering. So having criteria suggests to the recruiter that you are one of those awesome and in-demand folks.

Third, and most importantly, I want to know how you think. Making a job change is a big deal, worthy of lots of careful consideration. I'm interested in what the candidate says their reason is but I want to understand how they go there.

So let me give you an example. I'm consulting with Amazon right now so they are kind of top-of mind for me. If I were to interview here for a job here and was asked what about Amazon interests me, I'd say something like this: "I'm looking to work at a company with a vision I believe in. I'm very serious about my next career move; it's important to me to work for a company I feel confident will make good decisions over the long term because I'd plan on being here for a while. I'm a loyal customer of Amazon and appreciate how obsessed the company is with creating a good customer experience. I think that earning the trust they do with customers is what brings customers along as they start to change the way people buy things online - this is the vision I see Amazon pursuing. For example, when Amazon introduced Prime, it changed the way I thought about shopping; the things I would normally run out to the drug store to get, I'd buy online. It wasn't about Amazon getting a bigger piece of the pie, it was about making a bigger pie because it encouraged people to buy things they normally would only buy in person. I really appreciate this kind of thinking. It makes Amazon an eCommerce game-changer, not just a competitor. And I want to work for a game-changer."

See how that answer packs a punch? Much better than "Well, I'm looking to work in marketing and Amazon has a good marketing department and is close to my house."

So as you prepare for conversations with recruiters and hiring teams, think about what is appealing about each company and how you can use the answer to position yourself. Practice on your SO and your friends. Smack that softball.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Do you have an elevator pitch?

Today, I was touring some office space when the guide said "tell me about yourself." Ugh. OK, first of all, I hate that question because I feel like there's something that the person would really like to know but they aren't asking it (or they are totally disinterested and/or verbally lazy). We were actually stepping into an elevator too. It was like the perfect set-up for an elevator pitch and I totally whiffed it: "I'm a marketing consultant and I live in South Lake Union and I need a quiet place to get some work done." So I guess I was telling her what she needed to know (she was outrageously perky and I was immediately thrown into reactive introvert mode. I was thinking "I'm the client. Let's talk less; I'll start." Bad, Heather.). But it would have been a perfect opportunity to practice my marketing.

Since I am a consultant, my company brand and my personal brand are intertwined. So being able to answer one of these mushy, vague questions is good for business. Because you are a job candidate, your personal brand and being able to answer one of these dumb questions is also important, because you'll be interviewing and networking. You are most definitely going to be asked to tell the other person about yourself, probably many times.  If you have a go-to pitch that isn't over-the-top obnoxious but reflects positively on you, that would be super, mmkay?

You're also likely to be asked what you do, which indeed requires a different response than the request: "tell me about yourself." Where "tell me about yourself" is your elevator pitch opportunity, "what do you do?" begs for something a little more punchy.

Today, I decided to write down an elevator pitch for myself to use as an example. I write elevator pitches all the time. But they are a little like porn, I know a good one when I see it but it's hard to define. Wait a minute, I don't think that's exactly how the analogy goes. But you catch my drift, right?

Here's what I came up with:

I'm a marketing consultant who helps companies do a better job of connecting with important audiences online. My interest in this space began during my previous career in recruiting where I was drawn to work that engaged external audiences in an honest and authentic way to enhance Microsoft's brand as an employer.

The last three years, I've worked with companies that need to understand who their audiences are and what they value, develop branding and messaging strategies that appeal to and engage those audiences, and deliver their messaging through digital media.

I really enjoy the combination of creative and analytical skills that my work requires and also that I get to watch my clients start to think differently about what they do. I also like the variety of the work I do. It includes company naming, audience analysis, messaging framework development, creating and branding websites, social media strategy, content development and ghost-writing, and marketing advisory services.

I work with clients that don't have big marketing departments to do this type of work. My approach is scrappy and I bring a lot of energy and momentum which helps clients execute quickly.

I might be a fast-talker but I just delivered that pitch verbally in 40 second. Ta-dah!

And for the personal brand statement (the answer to "what do you do"), I've got this one etched in my brain: I help companies connect with audiences important to their success online through digital marketing and social media strategy. I don't love the grammar but when I say this, people get it. And they usually ask me questions about it, which is exactly what I want.

If you dissect a good personal elevator pitch, there are a couple of elements that I think make it compelling:

  1. A statement of what you do (marketing consultant)
  2. Values common to you and your audience (honest and authentic online engagement, passion around thinking about things differently, appreciation of scrappiness)
  3. What you're good at (combining creative and analytical skills)
  4. How your audience would experience you at work (energy, momentum, new thinking, honesty)
  5. What you enjoy (seeing clients think differently, merging the creative and analytical, being real online)
This isn't an exhaustive list, but definitely some things that help the person on the receiving end of your pitch really get you; not just what you do but who you are as a person, specifically as it relates to your work. The most important thing you can do in crafting your pitch is put yourself in the shoes of the other person. In my case, generally people want to know what I offer, what impact it would have to their business and what it would be like working with me. I feel like the elevator pitch I crafted communicates those things pretty clearly.

What's missing from my pitch is the personal deets. I don't like sharing that kind of stuff at the beginning of an interaction. In my opinion, in an interview setting, if they want to know what you do outside of work, they'll ask. I find that telling people I do trapeze or that I have a motorcycle totally reinforces my personal brand (especially if I want to position myself as a fearless badass who actually steps away from the computer on a regular basis), but it also gets the conversation off-track. I think it's a judgment call whether you want to include this kind of thing in your pitch. Back in ye olde days, when I was a recruiter, I assumed that people had hobbies and I also assumed they were none of my beeswax. I always felt like including hobbies in a description of yourself felt a little too much like a dating site profile. But I'm sure many other recruiters would disagree. Either way, not a deal breaker. 

Here are a couple blog posts I found that might also be helpful, but there are so many others you can find:

How to Create Your Memorable Elevator Pitch
How to Craft Your Personal Brand Statement
How to Build Personal Brand Pitches

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mistakes you might be making in your job search

If you can get past the guy's screen name (and all I can say about that is: reddit), you'll find some great advice from a recruiter.

"The best thing to do is to put yourself in the recruiter's shoes. Look at the job description. If you needed to hire this person, where would you look? What type of person would you look for? What would you want to see on a resume? You need to emulate that person. Know the company, know the job, provide examples of how your experiences meet those qualifications."

(hat tip: Lora)

Demonstrating what a badass you are with dragon-slaying stories

A friend of mine shared Liz Ryan's article with me and it includes dragons and you showing the full extent of your badassery in an interview. Both of these things are happy-making, in my opinion. Liz suggests that in an interview, you find ways to weave in dragon-slaying stories; these are the stories where you talk about how you saved the day. My buddy goes through his resume and makes sure he's got one of these stories for each skill or position on his resume. I like this kind of preparation - kind of anticipating the interview conversation. It's especially helpful if you're an introvert like me. I can come up with the perfect answer to any interview question...the day after the interview.

So yeah, developing these stories ahead of time is a great idea. As Liz explains, there are three elements to a successful dragon-slaying story: the problem statement ("what was the challenge?"), your actions ("how did you react to it?") and the impact ("so what?"). The thing is, in an interview, the person on the other side of the table probably isn't going to tee it up for you perfectly, so you are going to have to find ways to insert your stories into the conversation without it being as awkward as an eighth grade dance.

If you're in the tech space, there's a decent chance you are going to get some behavioral interview questions. In preparation for an interview, head on over to Glassdoor to look at feedback from people who have interviewed at your target company (my opinion on what to make of the rest of the info you see on Glassdoor here). This will most likely give you a good idea of the types of questions you will be asked. Or you can do some broader online research. Google or Bing: COMPANY AND interview AND question* AND (job* OR position). Lots to see.

Aside: I don't hate the behavioral interview questions as much as Liz. I actually think they can be quite helpful in teasing out competencies, especially in people whose experience is related but not exactly the same as the open position or folks with limited experience to begin with. "Tell me about a time you had to build consensus for an idea." is perfectly acceptable in an interview if you are talking to someone who was in a Program Manager role and is interviewing for a Tech Evangelist role. It strips away the interviewers perception around how TEs at their company go about consensus building; it keeps the interviewer open to new approaches that have been successful in a different context. And it gives the interviewee the opportunity to demonstrate their style, versus trying to guess exactly how the company would want them to do it. Yeah, so it might be very 1980s but lots of awesome stuff came out of the '80s. There is nothing better than a good Flashdance sweatshirt. I have never wavered in that opinion despite the passage of time.

Anyway, as you are thinking about your dragon-slaying stories, you might want to make note of the skills or competencies you feel each exhibit. As you identify jobs and companies, figure out what competencies are important to interviewers (you can tell by reading careers pages, job descriptions and searching for info on a company's culture online...some companies like Amazon publish competencies on their sites) and have the stories related to those competencies ready to go for an interview. Because these are the competencies that will likely come up in the interview. Same with skills and experiences.

I'll be coming up with some more interview prep tips for you later this week. In the meantime, if you have any questions you want me to answer or topics I should cover, feel free to drop me an email!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest post: Your Resume Isn’t Your Life Raft

I'm excited to introduce guest-blogger Lora Poepping. Lora and I worked together at Microsoft (and both small-business owners now). Today, she is founder of Plum Job Search Strategies, where she assists job-seekers with advice and support during their search . Love this quote from her bio: "What gives Lora tremendous joy is empowering others to find their ideal job. The difference in Lora’s methodology: coming at the search from the employer’s perspective." 

It’s understandable.  After the news is delivered and you’ve cleared out your desk, headed home and shared the news with your partner or spouse that your days at Microsoft are over, you naturally begin to dig up the resume.

If you could just accurately describe what you’ve been doing these past months or years, you’re certain that it will make a significant difference in moving on.  A resume is such a tangible part of the search.  People spend hours and hours trying to craft their story – the document that will make you stand out.

But, what you don’t know is that the document that people fret and fuss about isn’t the most important part of your search.

It isn’t…really.  Your resume is NOT your search.

A resume is a tool in your search toolkit, just like your LinkedIn profile (that’s another blog post entirely).  Sure, your resume needs to be carefully and thoughtfully created to describe your successes, but a resume supports what you say about yourself when you are connecting with others.

Please allow me to repeat this: your resume is not your search.  80% of all jobs are secured through non-traditional means.  Translated: you don’t get a job by hitting the APPLY button and submitting a resume.

Jobs are found in a variety of ways but the most valuable to you right now is leveraging connections that are invested in your wellbeing.  These are people who want to assist you with connecting you to their connections.  Your resume assists these connections in passing along your story in an accurate, thoughtful way.

The most important thing you can do right now in support of your search: understand what the marketplace wants and craft a message that is in-service to the marketplace.  Job search is not about what you want.  It’s about what the job marketplace wants.  Your resume should tell your story – sure.  But, it also needs to “map” to the roles that truly exist.

I’m not saying to give up on that resume.  Rather, do your homework first.  Set of calls with connections and be clear about what you’ve done and what specific type of role you want, and then back up your request with a resume that talks to your successes.

(BTW: a resume should not be a laundry list of what you did in your former role, but a showcase of your accomplishments – Why did it matter that you were part of the team?  When you read your resume, ask yourself: does this showcase my accomplishments and give the hiring manager a clear picture of who I am?)

A resume may seem like your life raft right now.  But, it really isn’t.  So, get off those water wings and swim towards lifeguards that really can help you swim for shore: connections/friends/former colleagues who know and are invested in you.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Glassdoor reviews: how much should you care?

I've been wanting to write this post longer than this blog has been up. Since I have been working in marketing and employment branding, I regularly think about Glassdoor. For those of you unfamiliar, Glassdoor is a site that allows job seekers to view interviewee and employee reviews, salary data and job postings. Employers can use Glassdoor as a tool to tell their stories to job seekers. I'm in touch with the folks at Glassdoor fairly regularly, and I don't think they would have a problem with me sharing my opinion on how much I think you should care about what you see on Glassdoor, specifically when you are researching employers or preparing for interviews.

I'm going to do some plain-talking here and I will try to keep it PG-13 for those of you who don't know me socially. Here are my three big take-aways:

  1. You should assume that a good percentage of the posts are written by opinion outliers.
  2. You should assume that there is an element of truth in every post.
  3. You should use what you find to ask questions, but only rarely should you use it to disqualify an employer from consideration. 
So before I go into any more detail, can we agree that with any job, at any employer, there's a certain amount of...well...crap (yeah, let's call it that), that you are going to have to deal with? Show me any employer you think is BS-free and I will show you an employee of that company who begs to differ. It's naive to assume that there are jobs that don't come with their own special variety of crap and the more honest you can be with yourself, especially during a career search, the better job you will do at picking the right employer for you. You're role, as a job-seeker, is to pick an employer with the brand of crap you find most acceptable. Glassdoor is going to help you decide. It's practically a menu of possible BS scenarios at employers. 

Aside from jobs, you know what else is potentially full-of it? Or who else, I guess? People. I'm not saying that people are trying to deceive. But we each come with our own ego and perspective, the latter often developed to protect the former. Think you're a rock star but then find out you are alone in your opinion? That shows up on Glassdoor as "this company doesn't pay well and their rewards system sucks!" The challenge with  the reviews on Glassdoor is that you don't get the context behind it and you have no idea whether the writer is someone whose opinion you should respect. People are often motivated to write a Glassdoor review when something has gone wrong, and a good part of the time, they contributed heavily to the situation themselves. Likewise with the glowing reviews - they likely come from people who have been treated extremely well and may not represent the opinion of the average employee. I guess I'd just encourage you to keep in mind that what you are seeing are the opinions of the disgruntled and, um, highly-gruntled employees (or former employees) and there's a heap of opinions somewhere in the middle that aren't showing up in the proper proportion.

Having said all that, I think you should consider that there is an element of truth in what you see. This is where I go back to the "pick your crap" mindset. For any employer, I expect to see issues described in Glassdoor reviews. If I don't, I'm suspicious. If I see someone posting about unrealistic performance expectations, I'm going to keep in mind that the company has high standards and actively manages against those standards. Yeah, so the person who posted the review might have been doing their best but they weren't a fit, they may have been a slacker or the employer may legitimately have unrealistic expectations. You just don't know. Even great companies have stuff like this that people don't like. 

As a job-seeker, I'd want to uncover what these potential issues are, as best I could. I find that the easiest way to do that is to identify themes in the reviews that are written in a really balanced way. Think about capturing these themes, especially as you are preparing to interview with a company. They will help you uncover the real scoop, they will show that you prepared, and asking about some of these things during an interview situation shows that you are also a buyer in this little hiring scenario. I mean, in demand folks have choices so of course you are going to ask some questions before you buy.

The one question I will warn you about, though (and really this is more about how you ask it and my warning could apply to many questions) is "what is the work/life balance like here?" Ah, work/life balance...such a loaded concept. Some companies or interviewers view this particular question as a red flag. Even if a company has great work/life balance (or work/life integration, if you prefer), they want people who are flexible enough to go the extra mile when needed. But it's a legitimate concern for anyone, especially folks with family commitments.  It's also a screening question for people who are clock-watchers. I really wish the question didn't raise red flags with some employers. I do recommend you ask questions to understand what kind of commitment you would really be getting yourself into. But I recommend questions that are more specific. "How many hours a week do you work?" doesn't count. Something like: "What are the expectations here around time away from the office? Do most employees log in at night?", "How much fluctuation is there in work load? Are there certain times of year that are busier than others?", "What's the company philosophy on disconnecting and are employees here good at it?"....even "How's your commute?" could give you a good idea. Obviously you will want to pick a really relevant question, but you get the point. 

So yeah, I do recommend that you use Glassdoor for research. I also recommend that you take it all with a grain of salt and do additional research where you can (like asking any people you know who work at the company what it's like).