references

Is It Really The Job Of Your Dreams? How To Conduct A Reference Check On A Potential Employer

iStockphoto.com ( vladwel)

iStockphoto.com (vladwel)

 

Prior to extending a job offer, an employer will usually do due diligence on you – background checks, drug tests, and reference checks, among other things – so that they know who they're hiring.

Likewise, you should do due diligence on a potential employer before accepting any position. And with the substantial volume of information readily accessible both online and through your network, there's really no excuse for accepting a job at a nightmare employer without having done your homework first.

Here's five resources you can use to conduct a reference check on a potential employer.

Resource: Glassdoor
What Is It: It's a job board, but it's also a forum where job applicants and employees can post and rate their interview and work experiences with an employer.
Pros: Transparency. There's a huge number of reviews (and growing), particularly about larger companies. Taken in aggregate, you'll get a general picture of the work environment.
Cons: People who have had bad experiences are more likely to post their reviews than people who have had positive or neutral experiences, so the results may skew negatively. The reviews are anonymous, so they're also unverifiable. Large companies can have different sub-cultures across the organization, so the feedback may not be wholly representative. Smaller companies may have few or no reviews.

Resource: "Best Employer" Lists
What Is It: National publications, such as Forbes, as well as regional or local magazines or websites, publish annual employer rankings based upon a variety of criteria, such as the benefits, work environment, diversity, employee engagement, and several other quality of life factors.
Pros: Companies who make the list care deeply about doing so because it helps their employer brand, which in turn supports recruitment and retention. And it's not easy to get on these lists – the selection process typically includes extensive questionnaires, metrics analyses, employee engagement surveys, and audits.
Cons: Companies self-nominate, meaning the pool of potential "Best Employers" consists of firms who are committed to doing the work to get on them; in fact, several employers have departments dedicated to making these lists. Conversely, there are many great employers who don't apply and will therefore not appear on any such list.

Resource: Staffing Firm Recruiter
What Is It: These individuals, also known as headhunters, are hired by companies to find talent for their difficult-to-fill job openings.
Pros: Experienced recruiters know which are great employers and which are revolving doors for talent. Either they've worked on making placements for them, or they know someone who has. And the candidates they speak with provide the inside skinny about their current employers. Bad companies are the ones that tend to be their most fertile for recruiting talent out.
Cons: A recruiter's perspective is going to be tinted by their relationship with that employer. In other words, if the recruiter is works consistently with a company to place talent there, they may be less forthcoming about the negative aspects of working there since the company is paying their tab.

Resource: The News
What Is It: You can search for news about employers on online aggregators, such as Google News or Bing News, or by checking the websites of newspapers, magazines, and television stations.
Pros: If there's information out there to be had, you'll find it.
Cons: Companies don't usually get news coverage unless there's something newsworthy. You'll also need to evaluate the impact of the information; companies usually make the news for really, really good things or for really, really bad things.

Resource: Current or Former Employee of the Company
What Is It: A person who works or has worked there.
Pros: Nobody knows a company better than an employee. He or she will know the politics, pitfalls, and rewards. Ask around, if you don't know anyone personally, chances are someone can help you make a connection to a person who did.
Cons: You'll need to calibrate your opinion based upon the employee's personal experience. If they were fired, they might have an axe to grind.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

5 Easy Ways To Research A Potential Employer Before The Job Interview

iStockphoto.com ( vasina )

iStockphoto.com (vasina)

 

An essential component of interview preparation is research. By researching the company, you won't be caught unaware; you'll better understand the company, its business model, and its culture, as well as what questions to ask during your interview.

Here a 5 Easy Ways To Research A Potential Employer Before The Job Interview!

  1. VISIT THE COMPANY'S WEB SITE. Corporate sites usually contain a trove of information about the company's products and services, and frequently feature profiles of the executive leadership team. Larger companies also often share investor relations information, press releases, and corporate announcements.
     
  2. READ THE NEWS. Type the company's name into a news aggregator such as Google News or Bing News. If there's important news to be found, there's a pretty good chance you'll see it here.
     
  3. LOOK AT LINKEDIN. If the company provides you with a list of the interviewers prior to your meeting, take a look at their profiles on LinkedIn. You're often able to learn about your interviewers' roles, projects, career progression, and more.
     
  4. CHECK OUT THEIR REVIEWS. Glassdoor is like the Yelp! of employment. But instead of dining reviews, people dish on their interview and employment experiences. The feedback is anonymous, and in many cases, it tends to be the unhappy employees who share their feedback, so evaluate reviews with a grain of salt. You should be able to identify aggregate views of the corporate culture.
     
  5. REACH OUT TO SOMEBODY WHO'S WORKED THERE. Just as an employer is going to perform a reference check on you to make sure you're a good match, there's no reason you can't do the same to them. If you'd like to find out somebody's experience as an employee, ask them. By working your personal network, you should be able to identify an individual who will provide you the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

4 Powerful Reasons To Cultivate Great Job References

They're calling your ex-boss. What will she say about you? / iStockphoto.com ( Dmytro Buianskyi )

They're calling your ex-boss. What will she say about you? / iStockphoto.com (Dmytro Buianskyi)

Job references come in several forms - a verbal or written reference, a letter of recommendation, or a short write-up for you to post on your LinkedIn profile.

And they matter – more than you think.

Here are four powerful reasons why you should dedicate the time to cultivating your job references. After all, a positive reference may be your ticket to that job you've always wanted.

  1. Glowing references can overcome a potential employer's doubt. Employers are generally risk-averse by nature, and making a hiring decision can be quite risky; a hiring manager on the fence can be swayed to your favor by an ex-boss sharing the wins you garnered while you worked together.
     
  2. You can help prepare a reference in order to improve your chances. Before offering up your ex-boss's name and number, speak to your reference about the types of skills and experience your potential employer is looking for, and he or she will be prepared to give appropriate – and favorable – examples.
     
  3. LinkedIn recommendations build your brand in the employer community. If all of your former managers have written nice things about you for you to share on your LinkedIn profile, they are willing to publicly stake their reputations on you. Isn't that worth something to your brand equity?
     
  4. By asking for references, you're building your job-hunting network. You may not be on your referral's radar. But they may be willing and able to consider you or refer you for a new job opportunity if they're aware you're on the hunt.

By the way, before giving out anybody's name as a reference, consider the following:

  • Ask permission first. It's better if references know you've given their names, and should expect calls from potential employers. Not only can does this give you an opportunity to gauge their willingness to speak on your behalf, but they are also more likely to return employers' calls if they know to anticipate them.
     
  • Know what your reference is going to say about you. Here's a true story: I was once recruiting for a senior manager role, and the hiring manager was ready to make an offer to the top candidate. I had asked the candidate for a reference, and he provided me information for his former manager, whom I eventually got on the phone. As we spoke, it quickly became clear that the ex-boss hated the guy, and he gushed at length about the candidate's poor work habits and lousy attitude. Needless to say, we moved on to other individuals. Always ask your reference what he or she would say about you if asked. 

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.