When Is A New Job Offer Too Risky?
How to know it's safe to take a chance on a company
How can you tell if you should take a chance on a company?
Google is your friend.
Sometimes, finding the down-low about an organization is as easy as a simple Google search. Maybe you did some research early in the interview process, but they've been taking their time, so it's been a while since you've looked anything up. Consider setting an alert for companies that interest you to receive news as Google indexes it. Try using Talkwalker.com to set up your search. Read everything published and evaluate the organization's chances. Don't forget to take a broad view and look up the industry and even the location before you take an offer.
If the company is owned by a parent organization, don't forget to include the parent in your research. Also, keep an eye out for general branding concerns. Financial trouble can result if a CEO is implicated in a scandal, and that can affect an organization's outlook. If it's a publicly traded company, keep an eye on the stock's performance and read up on expectations going forward.
Read between the lines at LinkedIn.
If you aren't already "following" the company in question at LinkedIn, now is the time to get on board. (Find "Companies" under the "Interests" tool bar.) When you do, you can get a glimpse of who in your network works at the organization, and you may be able to tell if a lot of people seem to be leaving. Use LinkedIn's "Advanced" search and find people whose "past" company is the one in question. You may need to be very patient to dig up any good information this way, but if you are really concerned, it is worth noting if leaders in the organization recently departed.
Regardless of who is leaving or not, you can access anyone in your network who can introduce you to someone who is working in the organization, and sometimes, an inside introduction is helpful when you're in the evaluation stage.
Network: Interview current employees.
Ask them if they've noticed perks are being cut back. Was the holiday party a "bring your own" this year? Has the free coffee in the break room come to a rapid halt, or how about other benefits they always took for granted? Have employees been asked to take on a lot of extra work? Or, is there a lot of increased scrutiny of each employee's output, when no one ever cared before? Is there talk of a merger? These could be bad signs.
Depending on the type of organization where you may want to work, it could be helpful to read online reviews and customer reviews. If it's a retail or other customer focused establishment that relies on new clients, and the Yelp! reviews are poor – especially if they are trending downward – that could be a bad sign for the company.
Don't forget to look up the organization on Glassdoor.com and see if there are reviews from current employees. Sometimes, they will comment if the company seems to be going through a rough time.
A little bad news probably doesn't spell the end of the world for the organization, but if you see too many red flags, at the very least consider yourself warned if you do decide to take an opportunity.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Business Success, Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Get her free white paper: 5 Mistakes Job Seekers Make and How to Avoid Them.