Do you believe everything you hear?
Many FINS readers do — at least when it comes to what other people think about a prospective employer.
Of 306 respondents in FINS’ informal Sign or Decline questionnaire, 57% said they’d turn down a dream job offer at a company if everyone they knew warned them against working there.
Unfortunately, it’s not always a good idea to trust word-of-mouth information, says Brandi Britton, district president for global staffing firm Robert Half International.
People often come out of jobs with specific gripes about a bad boss or miserable colleagues. If you’re not being offered a job under the same person or within the same department, those issues could be completely irrelevant, says Britton.
Yet, friends and family can be good sources of insight into other aspects of working at a particular company that might help you decide to accept an offer.
For instance, if you’re a woman entering a role that you hope will lead to promotions, raises, and a management job, but you’ve heard that the company has a history of not promoting women, you may want to let that information weigh on your decision.
“Make sure that what the company values, you also value,” says Mike Ramer, president of New Jersey-based recruiter Ramer Search Consultants.
When it comes to making a decision on a job offer, it’s best to do as much due diligence as possible and to consider multiple sources of information on the company, including both word-of-mouth and other information sources. Here are a few tips on doing so:
How Reliable Is the Source?
“If they’re working there now or they’ve worked there in the last year, listen carefully to their views,” says Ramer. “Ask the people who warned you for the reasons why they think it’s a bad company.” If you hear about recent, first-hand experiences that point to a widespread culture of overly demanding bosses, hard-driving sales or a high stress environment and you know you don’t thrive in that kind of environment, don’t accept the position, says Ramer.
Use the Interview Process to Your Advantage
“In the interview, ask the questions: ‘How would you describe the company culture?’ and ‘What are the qualities of people who fit best at the company and perform well?’,” says Ramer.
Britton suggests asking delicately about promotions. “Ask them about the careers of people who have demonstrated success for a period of time in this role,” so they don’t think you’ll jump ship if you aren’t given more power after signing on. You should pay attention to how you feel when you’re meeting with people in the office. “The entire experience from the moment you get to that office and how you’re treated while you’re there is part of how you interview the company,” says Britton.
Do Some Digging
“Read blogs written by people who work at the company,” says Ramer. Sites like Glassdoor.com are a good resource as well, he says, as they’ll compile information about workplace culture from people with experience inside the walls of a company. Putting together a larger sample size of employee opinions from which to make your decision could help you see trends that appear within a department or across the board, a good counterweight from the information you get from one or two friends.
Still unsure? “Research the company for recent press and/or legal actions,” suggests Ramer, or use what he calls the litmus test: employee turnover. “High turnover is a telling sign that your employment could also be short-lived,” he says.
What Would You Do?
Answer the question and see how you match up with the rest of the FINS community.
You’ve just been offered your dream job, but… everyone you know has warned you against working there.
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