Monday, February 28, 2011

Look Before You Leap: Factors to Consider before Accepting a Job Offer

For certain we are enduring one of the worst job markets since the 1930s. Unemployment is still near double digits and we are now only seeing early buds of a recovery. Jobs are far and few between and those landing are bolstered by solid networks and a great ability to communicate their accomplishments to employers only too willing to hire the best, the brightest and the most economical.

With that as a backdrop you would logically think that landing any job under any circumstance would be the order of the day. Not so Kemosahbee! In my view, we operate in an era that I will loosely call “employment trust,” whereby employee and employer are on equal footing with each having the right of first recusal. This means that both the job seeker and the employer have equal rights to find each other unfit or unqualified. Sure jobs and job offers are hard to come by. But jumping at the first job that comes along might well be fool hardy at best or a disaster of major proportions at worst.
So what is the litmus test to ascertain if an employer is unfit to have you grace its presence? Look before you leap.  Here are some red flags to ponder.

1. Learn the history, assuming the position is one that lights your fire and about which you have much passion and interest. What is the background of the position you are filling? Who was in the job and did the person leave voluntarily? For that matter, has the role been a revolving door? Have you spoken with your predecessor and how many folks have held the position? Unless your predecessor was promoted up the ladder or went on to greener pastures, you may want to take a pass. These are warning signs that there is danger looming ahead.

2. Examine management stability. Look at the top as well. Has the CEO been at the company for some time? If not, how long has that person been on the job? And what is the history of the CEO slot? If the company has had a string of leaders, chances are the company is operating without a rudder. Let that ship sail without you.

3. Study the company’s vision and values. If they are not in sync with your own goals and objectives, don’t be blindsided by the offer. It may not be a good fit. Make certain there is resonance with your own thinking, chemistry and personality. Do not compromise your own integrity.

4. Is your potential employer really an “unemployer.” Do your Google or Bing research. Does the company have a record of layoffs, restructurings or strategy shifts? These are an indication of poor management. If uncertainty is not your cup of tea, run and do not look back.

5. Consider profitability. Unless the company is a startup and in the formation mode, the company ought to be making money. If not, make haste and forget that loser.

6. The office ambience is cloudy with a chance of rain. Pay attention to the office environment. Do the people look happy or is everyone running around shoulders slumped and eyes to the ground? Unless you encounter enthusiastic smiles and energetic movement, you may want to think twice about a gig where the atmosphere is likely gloomy and grey.

7. Your salary negotiations are a marathon. Are you spending a lot of time debating your salary and or justifying your desired level compensation package? Are you being nickel and dimed to death in benefits? Is a contract an issue? Look, if you are the right fit and you have the skills the company needs, there should be no need for lengthy negotiations. Take a walk; it is not worth the aggravation.   

8. The customers have unanswered gripes. Before you take the final step. Talk to some customers. Find out if they are pleased with the product as well as the service. Let’s face it, the “customer is always right.” So if you encounter complaints of any sort that remain unanswered, where there is smoke there is fire. Just walk on by that frying pan.

9. gives the company a thumbs down. is a web site that takes an inside look at jobs and companies from anonymous sources. What you may find is a broad spectrum of opinion from disgruntled former employees or delightfully happy current employees. Consider the source but stay the course. Read all of the reviews and judge for yourself. If you find two or more red flags you may have a lemon on your hands. Forewarned is forearmed.

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