Look before you leap: Researching a potential employer
Congratulations, you’ve received a job offer! Do a happy dance, update your Facebook status and text everyone you know (starting with your mom), but don’t leap into that new job until you’ve done some research. As the old adage goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Up to now, that’s what you’ve had to do; the nitty-gritty is still hidden within the pages. Fortunately, it is quite easy to learn more about a potential employer online.
Start with the company website. If you carefully researched the company before you went in for an interview, then you may already know the details revealed within their web pages. It doesn’t hurt to take another look now from your new perspective. The “about us,” “our mission,” and “news” pages may be particularly revealing. You may also find valuable information about the executive and management teams.
Move on to the company’s LinkedIn profile. From here, you may be able to view the profiles of the executive and management teams, as well as other employees. Learning more about the backgrounds of your potential supervisors and coworkers may help you evaluate your ability to work well with them. If you are able to connect with current employees via this method, see if they’re willing to answer a few questions about the company culture and environment or nature of the position you’re considering.
You obviously want to work for a company that is performing well financially. If they are not, it is unlikely that they will tell you so outright. It is up to you to visit online business directories such as Standard & Poors and D&B Million Dollar Database or to obtain a copy of the annual report if the company you’re considering is publicly traded. Within an annual report, you’ll find information presented to stockholders, including the company’s current financial status.
Don’t neglect to perform a basic Google search on the company name. You may uncover additional news articles, reviews or customer complaints that you wouldn’t otherwise find. One such item may be the company’s Better Business Bureau rating. The BBB tracks customer complaints, government actions involving market conduct and issues with truth in advertising.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have information specific to individual companies, you can find data pertaining to the industry in general. Visit this enormous website to compare the salary you’ve been offered with the average salary within the industry and occupation. You can also find employment data and job outlook forecasts.
If you find a negative employee review or other questionable data about the company in question, don’t become too distressed. Discuss your findings with the human resource representative or hiring manager. If you’re forthright about what you’ve uncovered, they may be equally candid in their response. You can then determine whether it is best to leap into the new position or hang back and wait for a better offer.