Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Do Your Due Diligence

Please share your experiences & comments to our conversation

Due DiligenceMany people start new jobs only to discover they dislike the new company, new co-workers, and new environment. Typically, these new job frustrations result from inadequate research—or due diligence—prior to accepting a job offer. In other words, job seekers get so excited that they received any job offer, that they fail to ensure they will enjoy the job. Instead, a little due diligence could ensure they land the job they love.

Mildred’s Story

Mildred enjoyed working for the same company for 18 years. She loved the owner and the people that worked with her. Her responsibilities and tasks delighted her. She never thought of leaving. Unfortunately, the owner decided to retire and sold the company. The new owners moved the operation to a different state.

She landed a job after looking for 14 months. In her excitement at finally ending her job search, she assumed she would enjoy the new job as much as the old one. Her excitement quickly gave way to frustration and despair. Instead of the kindly owner building a family environment, she found a global organization with aloof management intent of looking good for directors far away. She worked in individual cubicles (devoid, by policy, of personal pictures, plants, and nick-knacks) replaced the open office where she enjoyed chatting with co-workers as she worked. The frequent praise and appreciation expressed by her previous boss disappeared. Instead, every improvement or good work merely established a higher expectation. Her experience shattered her enthusiasm and pride in her work. The consequent drop in both the quality and quantity of her work resulted in the company letting her go after only two and a half months.

Mildred came to our office a despondent and scarred soul. The first four to five sessions with our employment advisers focused on rebuilding her self-esteem and belief that she could ever find a job equal to her first one. Her adviser taught her how to do her due diligence to avoid a repeat of her disastrous job. She

  1. Wrote a description of the things she loved about her first job and the things she disliked about her second
  2. Outlined 8-10 questions that would uncover information about the new company’s reputation, management style and workplace environment.
  3. Read company websites and articles about the company where available focusing on mission, value, and other statements
  4. Connected with people she knew, or found on LinkedIn, who worked (current or past) at the company to ask them her questions
  5. Verified her due diligence during interviews and negotiations after job offers

It took a lot of work, especially trying to navigate automated voice mail. Mildred ceased following promising leads that, based on information discovered through her research, failed to provide what she wanted. At times she wanted to give up and just accept a job. Then, she thought of the enjoyable and the disagreeable job--and renewed her due diligence.

She received her reward six weeks later when a company that seemed to meet her requirements offered her a job. She rejoiced when the reality of her new company met the picture painted by her due diligence. She loved the environment, her co-workers, her supervisor, and her work.

Describe What You Want

First, you need to identify what you want. You can discover tools to help you evaluate what you want on my blog Happy With Your Career? I recommend you write your dream job outlining the:

  • Skills you want to use and the responsibilities you wish to oversee
  • Tasks and responsibilities you wish to perform
  • Work team relations: private, aloof, collaborative, friendly, chummy, or drinking buddies
  • Industry: manufacturing, office, retail, transportation, government, nonprofit or other
  • Working environment: highly structured, flexible, routine, varied, friendly, or private
  • Management style: intense, hands-on, hands-off, stressed, strong or weak
  • Facilities atmosphere: cubicles, open-office, campus, private offices, or assembly line

Second, you should write questions that will gather information you want about companies. Some questions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What do people enjoy most about working for this company?
  • What are the company’s mission, values, purposes, creeds, and strategies?
  • Tell me about your work team? How many members? What does each do?
  • What kinds of projects does your team work on? How long are typical projects?
  • How would you describe the company’s management style? Loyalty to employees?
  • What thrills you most about working there? What frustrates you most about it?

Read and Ask People Questions

Third, begin finding the answers to your questions. Read what you can on the company’s website, articles in the journals, press releases, and other sources. Websites like Jigsaw, Hoovers, Netshare, or professional associations frequently include this information about companies.

Next, talk to people who would know about the company. People might include:

  • Your friends and family who know the company, or may know others in the company
  • Connections on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media with current or past affiliation with the company
  • Competitors and clients of the company
  • Employees, starting with receptionists and secretaries, public relations or sales representatives, people working in the desired department, position, or team

Let me share a few tips to guide your due diligence:

  • Never rely on one source of information. Try to find at least three sources to read and visit.
  • Respect clerical workers. Ask questions they can answer, then ask a question that will trigger them transferring you to someone who can answer.
  • Avoid taking too much time. Four 5-minute conversations build relationships better than one 20-minute conversation.
  • Always ask “Who else would you recommend I talk to?” Try to get two new names.
  • Send people a thank-you email. Share any information you gather with your sources.
  • Ask their opinion of information you received from others. Validate what you hear.

A few hours researching potential jobs and companies prevents weeks, months, or years of frustration and irritation. Do your due diligence to ensure you will enjoy the job you accept.

Join us next week when we discuss calling 10 people a day to land the job you love.

Please share your experiences researching companies or bad jobs

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