Have you ever accepted a job offer, started working, and found that it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would?
New Job Failure Rates
If that’s the case, join the crowd. 50% of new hires fail. Imagine the damaged careers and the cost to organizations. Ouch!
I do not want that to happen to you. And some savvy research and questioning on your part can protect you. Read on to learn more.
Written Job Descriptions Matter
First, make sure you’ve read the job description. Does it:
- Outline key deliverables?
- Communicate timelines?
- Cover the full scope of your responsibilities?
If not, be sure to get clarity on those points and communicate them back in writing when you accept your job offer.
Written Job Offers Matter
Next, I don’t care how long it takes to get a written job offer, do not say yes until you have one. It should document your:
- Job title.
- Complete compensation agreement.
- And any other key points you have negotiated.
If your new employer won’t put your agreement in writing, you might well be taking a leap of faith on empty promises. Don’t go there.
Questions to Ask Before the Job Offer
Before you even get to a job offer, find out about the history of the position:
- Ask why the job is available (new or not?).
- Ask how long the previous incumbent held the job.
- If it’s not a new role, find out why the previous incumbent left.
- Trace back five years to learn if and why this is a high-turnover role.
Ideally, you want to learn that this job provides a consistent path to promotions, not a revolving door out of the company.
Meet the People
Ask to meet your prospective manager’s direct reports. If you can’t, beware of:
- A non-collaborative manager.
- Secrets your manager doesn’t want you to know.
It’s reasonable to want to meet your future colleagues. Avoid accepting job offers from hiring managers who won’t let you do so.
When you meet your future colleagues, ask about who makes the decisions that affect them. If it’s not the hiring manager, you need to meet the real decision maker and ask him/her the same questions you asked the hiring manager.
Use LinkedIn to Research Your Future Colleagues
As you prepare for your interviews, review your future colleague’s LinkedIn profiles:
- Use Emma, a psychometric app/Chrome extension, to get a quick read on them.
- Notice whether or not their profiles indicate job searches in process.
- Reach out to people you know in common.
Assess the Company’s Financial Condition
Unless you’re a turnaround pro, join a growing company because it will generate promotion opportunities for you.
If you’re interviewing with a public company, look at its most recent 10-K:
- Read the Business Description for terrific background information.
- Check out Selected Financial Information, including the company’s five-year stock performance, revenue growth/decline, and earnings growth/decline.
- Read Management’s Discussion & Analysis for a more granular description of recent performance.
If you’re interviewing with a privately held company:
- Search for it on Google News to see what you can find.
- If the company has private equity investors, ask about their investment thesis.
- Plus, know that it might flip to new owners sooner than later.
If you’re interviewing with a start-up, ask about:
- Its business model.
- How much cash it has on hand.
- Its burn rate.
The failure rate for start-ups might stun you. Bad business models and lack of cash put those companies out of business more than any other factors.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask prospective employers tough questions. Explain that you find the people, company, and job exciting. Then say you need more information to decide if you want to invest your most valuable asset, your time, in their endeavor.
If they won’t honor the importance of your decision, don’t accept a job offer from them.
I’ve summarized everything discussed above in the handy infographic below. Don’t accept a job offer without getting the information that will protect you from making a career-damaging mistake.
2017 Update: Not included in the infographic, but critically important, find out if you will be asked to sign a non-compete agreement after you’ve accepted a job offer. Companies often wait until new employees quit their old jobs before springing non-competes on them. Click the link to learn more.
12 Things You Wish You’d Known Before You Took the Job
© 2013 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, Smart Brief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.