Tech & Work

Accept no job before you meet your boss

You take a big risk when you accept a job without first meeting the person who'll be your manager. Jeff Davis has some advice for job seekers and managers.

In a market where getting good people, let alone the best people, is harder and harder to do, people with good IT qualifications rule. If you have quality experience or certification or both, you'll get interviews. You'll get job offers. You'll get your chance to prove your mettle.

But don't accept a job online or anywhere else if you haven't met your manager in person. Call me old-fashioned, but I think you deserve more than e-mail or voice messages from the person who'll be doing your reviews.

We really can't all get along
Don't let someone else hire your direct reports. Doesn't that sound like a lesson you'd learn somewhere in Management 101? Can you imagine having your manager hire someone to report to you, but the person was someone whom you'd never met?

It's easy to understand why an employer would make such an offer. If you're worth having around, the senior manager doesn't want to risk losing you just because the middle manager (the one who needs to meet you) is in the Bahamas.

Even if you need the job, you should think twice before you accept it if you haven't met the person who ultimately will manage your work life. By holding out to meet your first manager, you'll find out whether you meet that person's expectations of a candidate in terms of technical expertise and personality type. If you're among the IT people who have the skills to work anywhere, you'll want to make sure you're compatible with your new manager before you sign on.

Worth the wait
A friend of mine, vice president of IT for a software company, went to Hawaii. During his absence, the CEO of the company hired someone to fill a position reporting to the vice president. The CEO felt that the candidate was "too good to let get away." My friend was livid for some very good reasons.
  • The CEO didn't check references. My friend is vigilant about checking references for any hire he makes. When he discovered that no one had checked the new hire's references, he freaked out.
  • The CEO didn't verify the skill set. My friend didn't get to ask his standard questions to gauge experience level and subject matter expertise.
  • The CEO didn't mention travel. Did the CEO conveniently or accidentally forget to mention to the new hire the travel required in the new job? My friend says, "Doesn't matter. He's the CEO."

The right person for the job
I believe employers should always check references and verify everything on an applicant's resume. It's bound to cost your company more to replace an unqualified (incompetent) person than it costs to wait for the right hire.

And if you're looking for work, you have a duty to be a smart job seeker. Don't accept a quick job offer without questioning and confirming details like who will be your boss, what will be your duties, and who will evaluate your performance.

If you're a manager who's come back from vacation to find a new face, or if you've been the new face, we want to hear from you. Post a comment below or drop us a note and share your story.
Each Tuesday, Jeff Davis tells it like he sees it from the trenches of the IT battle. And you can get his report from the frontlines delivered straight to your e-mail front door. Subscribe to Jeff's View from Ground Zero TechMail, and you'll get a bonus of Jeff's picks for the best Web stuff—exclusively for our TechMail subscribers. If you already subscribe, e-mail this column to a friend.

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