A job search can often feel like a one-person marketing blitz, with you as the product. Some people are so focused on selling themselves that they fail to check out the company they're applying to.
Accepting a position with a company when you have failed to do adequate due diligence can have drastic consequences, as many of you know. It's not uncommon to join a company only to find weeks later that it's rife with poor morale, run by cave-people, or, worse, on the verge of bankruptcy.
Don't let your next job be a corporate form of a bad blind date. Here are some ways to research a company you're looking to hire into:Start with anecdotal evidence. Try to find someone who works for the company or knows someone who has. Keep in mind that employees who are no longer with a company may have an ax to grind, so it's best to gather a few opinions and not just depend on one person's account. Go to the corporate Web site. Although this public face is more than likely controlled in some way by management, you still may be able to glean some of the corporate flavor of the company. And it's a good way to make sure no former Enron execs are on the board of directors. Some corporate sites are glaringly "corporate," and some are more laid back. Read Company blogs. Again, big brother probably has a big ole eye on corporate blogs, but you can sometimes read between the lines and get a feel for the culture. Visit electronic message boards. Here's a message board that sorts by companies and industry, as well as specific topic. Keep abreast of local and national newspapers and media outlets. Particularly with bigger companies, you will hear a lot about them in the news. Be media-alert. This is how you will find out if there are problems with how the company does business. Read industry journals. Here's a great source of the IT industry journals that are out there. Explore Securities and Exchange Commission documents. Most publicly-held companies are required to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This could give you a little scoop on everything from the company's press releases to any litigation issues it may be involved in.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.