Tempted to accept a job offer without asking questions?
As great as that temptation may be, particularly in today's economy, outplacement consultants say it's important to first ask and get answers to critical questions about the new job and company you'll be joining.
Here's why. Job hunters often assume companies wouldn't be hiring if they weren't in good financial condition. In truth, however, companies can feel an urgency to fill key technical and/or management roles for existing projects even when the companies' overall financial condition is precarious.
"Job hunters need to do their own research." Brad Karsh, president JB Training Solutions
Unfortunately, when that happens, the person hired for a particular project may soon learn that other departments or divisions of the company are suffering with debt and declining revenues.
As a result, the new job may be short-lived, lasting only until the project for which the person was hired, is completed. At that point, the company may have to trim its employee ranks, including the new person hired for that project. Sometimes, the company may be so financially troubled it ends up declaring bankruptcy leaving all its employees without jobs.
Sound farfetched? Perhaps but I've seen such situations, even known someone recruited and relocated across the country to head up a one-year project for a consulting firm only to be told (after relocating and uprooting his family) that the company he joined was near bankruptcy. Needless to say, having to initiate a job search in an unfamiliar city just months after relocating was far from desirable.
The situation might have been avoided had the gentleman in question learned more about the company pursuing him before accepting that company's job and relocation offer. What he didn't realize was that sometimes a manager or executive responsible for staffing an important project will fail to mention major problems in other areas of the company when interviewing someone he believes capable of rescuing a project that needs to be staffed quickly.
"It's not necessarily a case of being devious. Sometimes a company's recruiter isn't aware of the organization's difficulties or at least the severity of them. Sometimes senior executives keep between themselves the fact that they're staffing up in anticipation of landing a particular project even though they know they may have to downsize or close their doors if that new business doesn't materialize. That's why job hunters need to do their own research."
How can you find out what's really going on inside a company before joining it?
"Read trade publications to see if the company downsized recently or had publicly disclosed problems." "You can also discretely inquire with your contact network. See if anyone knows former employees who recently left the organization. Those folks shouldn't have a reason to understate the company's difficulties."
Using your network to make contact with current employees may also unearth relevant information. Those employees might be willing to be candid about the company's fragile finances. They might empathize with you as a job hunter and, in fact, hope someone would give them the straight scoop about a troubled organization if they're ever in a situation like yours. At a minimum, they might be more forthcoming with you than the hiring manager or recruiter was, feeling that their honesty would at least enable you to make an informed decision.
After all, even armed with information about a company's troubles, an unemployed job hunter might still accept the job offer he or she received figuring that a paycheck for a period of time is better than no paycheck at all. And indeed, for someone who's been unemployed awhile, it can be. The benefits of re-employment tend to include a boost in self-confidence and a recent job entry on a resume as well as regular weekly earnings.
What if the job offered involves relocation? If your research suggests the organization is suffering with financial difficulties, you might still accept the offer and rent in the new location but not ask your spouse, if you're married, to leave a secure job and income to relocate, too. That way, if the job turns out to be relatively short-term, you can resume your life and job search back in your original community with your spouse's income still intact to cover day-to-day expenses.
At a minimum, researching a company before joining it can help keep you from taking risks that later prove too costly.
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