Before accepting a job, consider the company's financial condition

It would be a cruel twist of irony if you ended a long period of unemployment by accepting a job with a company that was not financially stable. But how do you determine this about a company?

The last thing you want to do after you've been laid off from one company is to accept a job with another company that is so financially unstable that you might find yourself looking for another job in a matter of weeks.

But how do you know about the financial condition of a company? Marcia Heroux Pounds, author of the recently released book, I Found a Job!: Career Advice from Job Hunters Who Landed on Their Feet, offers some suggestions.  She encourages job seekers to ask employers questions about revenue and year-over-year growth to achieve a better understanding of the company's financial status.

But she also recognizes that many job candidates wouldn't be comfortable asking these questions. So here are a few additional strategies she offers for obtaining key information:

  • For public companies, you can get a snapshot of financials through their required filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at Look at the company's revenues and earnings, and compare them with a year earlier. Look at the trend over five years. Recognize, of course, that nearly every company took a hit in the recession in 2008-2009. Has the company started to recover since then? Ask what the company's strategy has been to weather the recession.
  • Do an Internet search to see what has been written about the company, especially in the archives of your local newspaper, which may offer more information.
  • Is the potential employer in acquisition mode? That could be a good sign, showing that the company is positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. Also realize that acquisitions and mergers mean the company will likely be reorganizing certain departments for "synergies," which usually results in layoffs somewhere in the combined companies.