5 Ways to Vet Your Next Employer

16 Jan
We all know that before bringing you on board, a potential employer will do some vetting.

They’ll scour the internet searching for digital dirt, or any discrepancies from your resume. They’ll try to get a glimpse into your personality. They want to know as much as they can about you. After all, they’re about to let you — an unknown quantity — into their family.

Fair enough. You should do the same.

Now more than ever, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. This is especially true if you’re leaving one job for another. You don’t want to leave a stable (albeit boring) work environment, only to be laid off by your new employer three months later. Besides, job hunting is a two way street — both parties should feel comfortable and confident in the potential union.

Before you sign that offer letter, make sure to do your due diligence.

Research their financial health

This will be easier if you’re dealing with a publicly traded company – they have to report their financials to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and all of that information is accessible to you online here.

And whether or not your potential employer is public, you can get insight into their financial health by reviewing their profile on sites like Yahoo! Finance or Hoovers.

Finally, a simple Google search can yield valuable financial information in the form of news reports, feature articles, interviews, and more.

Understand the company’s past, present and future

Revenue is not the only indicator of a company’s health. By learning more about their history, you’ll have a better grasp on current performance, and where it’s likely to go from here.

Do some detective work: How long has this company been around? How much have they grown since then? How do they compare to their competitors? What’s the mission?

Again, you can get this information from Yahoo! Finance or Hoovers.

You can also learn a lot from your company’s own website – particularly in the About Us section. That is, if they have a company website. If they don’t, run.

Get to know the top-level executives

Just as your employer will want to understand your professional background, you should understand theirs (or rather, the professional backgrounds of the key players).

Find out who their C-level executives and decision makers are. Learn what you can from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Google them to see what, if any, articles have been written about them.

If you find that the company is led by executives who have been single handedly responsible for the demise of countless other companies, you may want to steer clear. But if everything they’ve touched is gold, you’ll know you’re in good hands.

Get employer “references”

As you inch closer to that offer letter, you’ll likely be asked to submit a few references – people who can vouch for your character, your professionalism, and your integrity. Why not ask the same of your employer?

Try and speak to a few of the people who work there – particularly the ones who will be your peers – to help you get a taste for what the work environment is like.

Ask them what they like about the job, what they don’t like, how long they’ve been working there and what they feel the potential for growth is. If you can, find out what the turnover is like.

Of course, they may not be completely honest with you. And even if they are, some people are just negative Nancies – so you don’t want to take everything they say to heart. But talking to a few people can give you a better idea of what you’re signing up for.

Look around you

When you go in for the interview, make sure to get a good look at your surroundings.

Are they still using clunky PCs from the 90s? Is the IT guy’s office also the “kitchen”? Are people sweating because it’s 90 degrees outside and the air conditioner is broken (and has been for months)?

These are not minute details – you’re going to spending the majority of your day here. You’ll want to be comfortable. And antiquated computer systems will surely slow you down.

If this company isn’t investing in its staff’s comfort, or giving them the tools necessary to succeed, it’s for one of two reasons: they can’t afford to or they’re choosing not to. Either way, this probably isn’t somewhere you want to work.

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