Career Advice, Interviews

Background Checking Your Next Boss

The first thing you need to know about your next boss is how badly she was hurt by the financial downturn. A boss who is deeply underwater is likely to behave differently than one who is not under the same financial pressure. Someone whose debts vastly exceed their ability to pay is likely to either be looking for a new job or desperately hanging on to the one they have. In either case, she will be far more concerned about herself than you.

You should expect that the company will do a background check on you. It is as important that you have a clear picture of your boss and the people you will be working with. Building a profile of your new employer is common sense in the 21st Century.

Here’s what you need to do to make an assessment of her history, background and financial circumstances:

  1. Find out how much money she makes. Companies use several sources of salary information to verify their conclusions about compensation. Visit sites that offer salary information ( has some remarkable data). Get two or three estimates of her pay package and average them.
  2. Find her online credentials. Using Google, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Zabasearch, you should be able to identify her work experience and people she has worked with. Does she move frequently between jobs? Were any of her assignments shorter than 18 months? Does she move between industries or stay in the same niche? What are her professional credentials? Does she have any unexplained gaps in her work history?
  3. Pipl offers concentrated access to web information. You can discover her accounts on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media. Browse through her postings, tweets, pictures and activities.
  4. Get her home address. Try Zabasearch first. It offers an amazing array of data on people including address and phone numbers. Intellius will give you a relatively comprehensive background check for about $40. That will show criminal or financial problems.
  5. Find out how much her house is worth. By visiting Zillow, you can get a reasonably accurate estimate of the current value of her home, if she owns one. The local information section will give you a ballpark indication of the degree to which prices have changed in her neighborhood. GoogleMaps will give you an aerial view of the house and quite possibly a street view. Look to see the level of maintenance of her house and the surrounding neighborhood.
  6. Discover her mortgage.Check to see if her county has mortgage records online. If not, you can always visit the county recorder. You can see what she paid, how often she’s refinanced and what her current mortgage is.
  7. Do a search of Google Images to see what pictures turn up of your potential boss and her online friends and activities.

When you are looking for information about people, you want to know what others are saying about them, not what they are saying about themselves. While social media profiles are interesting, it’s more useful to take a look at the people in their friends list. What are they like? What can you learn about your new workgroup from the company they keep?

When you have finished doing the investigation on your potential employer, be sure to do it on yourself. You can be sure that anything this easy is going to get done on you. You might as well understand what they are going to find.