It’s tempting to take a job offer when you get it. However, your career is the equivalent to a company’s brand. You want to do everything possible to make it lucrative, but if you accept an offer that leaves you with a short stint on your resume, you undermine your ultimate goal.
People often wonder, “How do I know if working at this company is going to be good for my career?” Resources like glassdoor.com can give you some insight; however, you might see comments from disgruntled employees who may have been let go for completely legitimate reasons. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- People are deeply disorganized. You go to the interview. The person you were supposed to see is not there and no one gives you a reasonable explanation (i.e. a family emergency) why this happened today. If a company isn’t respectful of your time at the very beginning, it won’t be later.
- The people who interview you are completely unprepared. If you meet more than one person when you go in for an interview, that’s a great sign. However, if they have no idea what they want to ask you, these folks might not see a great need for the position you hope to fill. Don’t be scared if they don’t have a long list of thorough questions. Interviewers are only perfectly prepared in career coaching books. However, it is in their interest to have a few questions to determine if you are a fit for the job.
- The interviewer’s statements do not match what you see in the office. People can say the all right things, but if the words do not match the actions, it is a huge warning sign. If the hiring manager says “We have lots of clients,” and yet, there are few phone calls and the overall activity level in the office is low. Trust your gut if the social cues don’t match the spoken words.
- They don’t have an answer to your question, “What are the first 30 days like in this position?” Some companies expect people to dive right in to the job. Others have a more formal training program. The important thing is that the company has clear expectations on how quickly it wants you to get up to speed.
- They don’t have an answer to the question, “How do you define someone who is successful in this position?” Murky expectations are a major cause of on-the-job frustration. If a company doesn’t know what it needs from an employee, how can you provide it?
- The company pressures you to accept an offer without first seeing everything in writing. You get an offer. You’re so excited! The adrenaline is flowing. You need to take a step back and say, “I’m deeply flattered. I look forward to signing off on the written offer.” The purpose of written offers is to spell out the general duties, compensation, and benefits associated with a job so there are no surprises for either the employee or the employer. A company should want to make sure that everything is clear for its own sake.
Despite our best efforts to minimize it, sometimes a person takes a risk and it just doesn’t work out. You start a job and the boss, position description, and overall environment are not how they were represented during the search process. Asking some professional, probing questions and being observant to social cues can go a long way to protecting your career interests.