How do I find out about that?

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Have you ever taken a job that you thought you would love, only to find out the company was a nightmare to work for? I have felt like that in the past, and so have many of my clients.

Amanda was a Product Manager who loved her work but had grown to hate the company she worked for. They demanded that she be on call 24/7, yet she felt her work and efforts went unacknowledged. She felt her managers didn’t want to hear her point of view on critical projects she was assigned to. As she explored what sort of environment would allow her to thrive, Amanda created a list of qualities and attributes she desired in the next company she worked for. She wanted to work at a place that recognized and rewarded employees for their contributions. She wanted to work at a place that encouraged its employees to work reasonable hours, and allowed them to spend time with their families. She wanted the management to seek input from its staff. As Amanda completed her list, she began to wonder how to find out more about the company before she accepted an offer.

It can be easy to focus so much of your effort on seeking the type of job you want, that you forget to find out if the company is the right environment for you. Many people are so busy trying to get a job offer that they skip over the step of researching the company to see if it is a good fit for them.

Wouldn’t you like to find out before you accept an offer if the company will be a place where you can thrive?

Here are 5 tactics you can use to learn about a company long before you decide to become an employee.
 
 
1. Look for Press and Publicity

The internet is a wonderful tool. Start by looking at the company website, read what they say about themselves: their goals, their values, their products and services. Next search for any news about the company you can find online. What stories are being written about them? I once accepted a job at a company, and the next day, they made national headlines with a story about a key executive being accused of sexual harassment. Had I made the effort, I would have known about this event before I accepted a job there.
 
 

2. Look for Consumer Complaints

Here is a list of sites I use to look for complaints filed about a company and its products and services: www.complaints.com, www.complaintsboard.com, www.ripoffreport.com, www.bbb.org, www.fcc.gov/complaints, www.thesqueakywheel.com. Find out whether consumers have complained and what they complained about. You can also just Google: “Complaints Company Name” or “Scam Company Name”, and see what comes up. Read through what you find, and use the information to make an informed choice about the organization.
 
 

3. Look for Employee Complaints or Praises

Visit www.glassdoor.com to discover what current and past employees say about working for the company. I once walked away from a job interview with an uneasy feeling about the company. When I looked them up on glassdoor.com, I found out some details that weren’t mentioned in the interview, but would have been a problem for me had I worked there. The job would have been great for someone else, but not for me. Thankfully, I found out before I accepted a position there.

Search your connections (leverage LinkedIn, as well as your in person contacts) for people who have worked at the company, and ask them directly what it was like.
 
 

4. Ask Questions in an Interview

Spend some time crafting questions for your potential employer before your interview, and then ask those questions. Some of my favorites include:

“What does the person you hire need to accomplish or complete in 3, 6 or 12 months in order for you to consider this person successful in this position?”

“Can you give me an example of time when you were impressed with an employee’s performance or contribution on a project, and how you handled that?”

“Can you give me an example of a time when you were displeased with an employee’s performance on a project, and how you handled that?”

“Who is involved in decisions about …?” (e.g. product offerings, project timelines, etc.)

“How is work typically assigned?”
 
 

5. Observe Others in an Interview

Typically, at some point in the interview, you will have an opportunity to walk through the office environment. Take notice of how people interact. Are they laughing and talking? Are they quiet? What is the general tone? Simply observe how others act and interact. Observe what the office looks like and feels like.
 
 

Being happy at work depends not only on the type of work you do, but also on the type of environment you work in. If you spend time researching the organization before you accept a job there, you can avoid ending up at yet a place that doesn’t suit you. Amanda did this, and she is now happily employed as a Product Manager at company she loves.

Are there other strategies you employ to research a company before accepting a position? Please share them with me on my blog below.

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Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA