Smart job hunting requires picking good target companies carefully. Why apply for jobs at lousy companies? Life’s too short. It’s why I tell people There aren’t 400 jobs for you. At best, there might be a small handful. Don’t just look for a job. It’s far better to doggedly pursue four, five or six right companies than to shotgun the job market and go after every wrong company out there — just because the job boards let you.
This reader has a very, very smart approach to checking out companies. Yep, he checks a company’s references, and he does it like no one else I’ve ever seen. He starts by using the most credible references he can think of: church ministers. This gives a whole new meaning to being blessed…
I couldn’t agree more with your strong advice to carefully research a company’s reputation, in your article Peeling The Offer. I’d like to share an experience I had that illustrates just how important this is.
I applied for a management position and made it through four phone interviews and then a site visit where I was interviewed by three people. Following the interviews I felt that I had a very good shot at the job but I had some very bad feelings about the company, including the fact it had 150% staff turnover and all supervisors and managers had less than one year on the job. I would have been responsible for all new-hire training and it looked like I was going to be chasing a moving target even before I started to ask why the turnover rate was so high. I left the interview and stopped at a local sporting goods store on my way out of town. I mentioned to the store owner that I was in town for a job interview. Without hesitation the store owner said, “You don’t want to work there. That place is a mess.”
The next day I set up meetings with the ministers of the two largest churches in town. Ministers know a community. I asked both men about the reputation of the employer. I said I would appreciate their wisdom, advice and assistance and promised to keep their comments in the strictest confidence. One declined to say much, other than to agree that the company had a very high turn over rate. I felt that his reply was significant for what he did not say. He did not say it was a good place to work or that I would be happy working there. The second minister was much more vocal. He said that a number of his parishoners worked at the company and absolutely hated their jobs. He said the plant manager was extremely difficult to work for, the accident rate appeared to be very high, and working conditions and benefits for the hourly workers were very poor. Even though I would have received better benefits as a manager, I have major issues with a company that treats its hourly people like dirt.
I decided that if two local ministers – men of decent reputation and good education – couldn’t say anything good about an employer, I certainly didn’t want to work there. So I sent an e-mail off to the corporate recruiter with a “Thanks, but no thanks” message. I’m still looking, but I can sleep at night.
References on a company are key. References can save you time, trouble, and pain. But this story takes it up a notch: If you want useful references, go to credible references. Ministers. I love it.