Do Your Due Diligence

Well, I had yet another one of these conversations this morning – a candidate that recently accepted a job offer has realized that he made a huge mistake in joining this particular company, and now is back looking for a new job after having been with the company for only 4 months.

I’m amazed at how often I hear these types of things from candidates:

  • “I wasn’t aware of how bad this company’s financial situation is before signing on.”
  • “The owners made promises on my way in the door, and now they’re not making good on them.”
  • “I was sold one thing during the interview process and then given something completely different.”

It’s easy to point your finger at the company or hiring manager and blame them for the situation you’ve suddenly found yourself in, but the reality is that you alone are responsible for managing your career.  If you’ve made a bad move, you have no one to blame but yourself.  You need to do thorough due diligence on any job opportunity before signing on the dotted line.

As always, your network is going to be your most valuable resource here.  Find people that know the company and its management team, and can provide you with some insight.  These include current or former employees, service providers that have the company as a client, recruiters that have helped the company hire its talent, customers of the company, auditors, outside counsel, etc.  Without a doubt, you know a handful of people either that are familiar with the business, or that can connect you with others that are.  Dig through your rolodex and make the connections.  It may take longer with smaller and less well-known companies, but the time investment is necessary.

Also, use LinkedIn to vet the backgrounds of the company’s management team members and staff.  You’ll want to take a look at former employees, particularly those that worked within your soon-to-be department, to get a sense of how long these people stayed in their roles, if they were promoted during their tenure there, what turnover has been like, etc.  You may even want to reach out to a couple of these people to get their impression of the company and department.

You’ll very rarely run into a situation where you can’t find any information on a company, but be cautious of companies for which it’s hard to find information or that few people in your network have heard of.  Don’t make a move until you’re 100% comfortable with the company and, if you can’t get that level of comfort, don’t make the move at all.

Fidler’s Law of Due Diligence: The harder it is to find information on a company, the less likely that it’s the right place for you.

Never let your desire to leave your current job situation or pull yourself out of unemployment make you rush to a decision or pay less attention to something that could be a red flag.  You can’t allow desperation to cloud your judgment.  I know that’s easier said than done – especially if you’ve been out of work for the last six months – but making a bad job move can be much more detrimental to you in the long run than sticking it out in your current situation until you have the opportunity to make a good one.

2 thoughts on “Do Your Due Diligence”

  1. Interesting post. Pondering how I feel about not taking a job after being out of work for six months or more. Couldn’t you continue to look for a new job while at the new job? Without significant savings how do you justify not taking a job? John, I would be interested in how a bad job move can be much more detrimental to you in the long run . . .

  2. Judith,

    There are a couple of things about your approach that are dangerous. (1) It is a small world. An employer you “use” to bridge a gap and then leave very soon after joining is a hit to your reputation. (2) I suspect it’s very easy to get sucked into the details of the “placeholder” job and before you know it you haven’t continued your search at all, but are remaining in a place that makes you feel unhappy. Other reasons come to mind, too!

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