Don't take a job without it
By Nick Corcodilos
When you're considering a job offer, how's your "due
diligence"? Do you do it in the job interview, or do you
actually spend some time researching the company in advance, so
you can form a clear judgment about it?
Most people research a prospective employer minimally. Some
go no farther than reading a want ad or a job description, and
asking the manager a few questions in the job interview. If they already know
something about the company, they rely on their intuition.
Usually, they're so glad to have a job offer that they fall prey
to wishful thinking. But, it isn't just candidates that fail to
carefully investigate employers. Companies usually don't check out
job candidates very carefully, either. Diligence is typically lacking on both
sides of the decision process.
In my opinion, the failure to research and understand one
another is one of the key reasons why companies lay off employees
and why workers quit jobs. They have no idea what they're getting
into until it's too late.
Proper due diligence is extensive and detailed. How far you go
with it is up to you. But, when you're considering an employer, I
suggest that your minimum research should include the following.
- The company's annual and quarterly SEC filings. (If you
need help interpreting the financials, get it.)
- The company's
marketing and product brochures.
- Articles about the company in the
general business press and in industry-specific
- Articles about the company's industry, including its
competitors. (The industry's problems are the company's problems,
- Competitors' marketing and product brochures.
company's web site.
- Competitors' web sites.
- The hiring
- At least two people on the manager's team.
- At least two
people and managers in departments that would influence your
success on the job (e.g., manufacturing, accounting, marketing).
least one customer of the company. (Call a purchasing manager and ask his
opinion of the company as a vendor.)
- At least one
vendor of the company. (Call the sales rep who handles the company
and ask his opinion about it.)
- At least one competitor of the
company. (Call one of its sales reps, or a manager in a department
related to the one you'd join.
Be frank. Explain that you're considering a job there. What's
- At least two ex-employees of the company. (Find them
through your own contacts, or ask current employees for names.)
Research is a funny thing. When it's part of our
jobs, we do it
thoroughly. When we need to do it for our own protection, we often
skip it or we get sloppy. (We "trust our instincts".) As you do your research on a company, ask yourself:
- What do I need to know?
- What are the best sources of this
- How good is each source?
- Who can save me a lot of
time by giving me the real inside scoop?
- Have I really been
- What could go wrong if I don't
get good answers to my questions?
If all of this seems a bit much, remember that next to our
friends and families, our employers represent the most important
relationships we have. Remember that other people who have important
relationships with your prospective employer practice due
diligence: bankers, realtors, customers, vendors, venture
capitalists and stock analysts. Can you afford to ignore it?
Please tell us what you
think of this article.
Related article: Scuttlebutt:
Getting the truth about private companies
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