You've Heard the Warnings
There's no better endorsement than a personal one. That's why people click on Yelp before trying a new restaurant, or read through Trip Advisor before booking a hotel. They choose the restaurants and hotels with the best ratings, because they know the food and accommodations will be good before they even get there. Word-of-mouth recommendations can be just as crucial during your job search.
My husband had an experience a few years ago that illustrates how important personal reviews from past employees are when interviewing for a new job. He'd applied for a marketing position at a Fortune 500 company, and it seemed like a great opportunity. Then the phone started to ring and the e-mails began rolling in. One after another, friends and former colleagues who had worked for this company handed out dire warnings. They described the company as a "sweat shop." One woman fought back tears as she described my husband's would-be manager, who she'd nicknamed "Satan." When the job didn't work out, my husband wasn't disappointed -- he was overjoyed.
You'd be surprised how important a personal recommendation can be when you're interviewing for a new job. A glowing review of the company from people with firsthand experience working there can help you feel secure that you've made the right decision. On the other hand, when former employees warn you to stay away from the job at all costs, you can pretty much be assured that the experience will be every bit as awful as that questionable-looking Thai restaurant you tried without first checking the reviews.