With global inflation, political turmoil and rising interest rates, these are uncertain times. And given that many companies are instituting cost-cutting measures, job offers are being rescinded before employees even arrive for their first day of work. So, you may ask yourself whether you should stay in a stable albeit unfulfilling job or consider making a job change. It’s not an easy decision.
But switching jobs still has its benefits. According to Pew Research, the typical American who changed employers from April 2021 to March 2022 got a 9.7% bump in their real wages over a year earlier. This happened despite a surge in the rate of inflation. In contrast, fewer than half (47%) of those who remained with the same employer experienced an increase in real earnings.
While it’s still a job seekers market, it pays to be cautious and prepared. There are ways to mitigate the risk by looking closely at your potential employer before making a job change. These tips will help you do your due diligence so you can approach the process with knowledge and clarity.
Examine the company culture
Ideally, you want to work for an organization whose company culture is aligned with your values. An organization’s website is an excellent place to start. The mission statement will give you insight into the company’s values and priorities.
Use social media sites like LinkedIn to connect with and message current or former employees. You can also expand your search to review websites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Comparably.
In addition, notice how you were treated during the interview process and listen to your intuition. If you are invited to an on-site interview, arrive early so you can observe the environment. Then attempt to get a feel for the overall energy in the office and watch how people interact. Try to make sure it’s the kind of place that inspires you to do your best work every day.
Ask the hard questions
Asking intelligent questions is critical during the interview process. Some examples are:
- 7 Insights on America’s Most Successful Revolutionary Entrepreneur, Benjamin Franklin
- How is the company adjusting during these challenging economic times?
- Are there concerns about layoffs or hiring freezes in the future?
- What are the key milestones the company needs to meet in the next year?
- Where do you see the company in five years?
- What stock option or equity incentive plan does the company have?
Make sure the company is being as transparent as possible. For example, if the team can’t answer questions regarding funding or requires you to make a financial investment before joining, those could be significant red flags.
Research financial performance
If you are thinking of joining a public company, you’re in luck. There is no shortage of financial information at your fingertips. You can search the EDGAR database, which gives you free access to common documents on file with the SEC, including annual and quarterly reports.
For private companies and startups, it's a little trickier. First, find out how the company is funded. If they are backed by a reputable venture capital firm, that's usually a good sign. There are also subscription databases like Crunchbase, which provides data and analysis on startups, investors and incubators. Finally, Dun & Bradstreet is a good source of information on private organizations, although the amount of data will vary from company to company.
Look at the leadership team
Before you make a job change, it’s important to research the leadership team—especially when you're interviewing at a startup. First, find out the CEO's track record at other companies. Ensure they have a focused vision, strategic plan, and ample resources. Ask yourself questions like:
- Are they honest, straightforward and genuine?
- What is their leadership style, and how do they operate under pressure?
- If it’s a startup, have they had other successful exits?
A strong leader should be able to manage short-term goals without compromising long-term strategy.
Network with employees and customers
If you know a current or former employee, it’s a good idea to reach out to them. One of the best ways to learn about a company is to talk to people who can provide you with real-life insights. Another idea is to reach out to current customers to see how satisfied they are with the product or service. You can learn a lot about how the organization manages its employees based on how it deals with clients. The more information you can gather, the lower the risk when you make the job change.
The most important thing to remember is that the recruitment process is a two-way street. You are evaluating the company just as much as they are evaluating you. Before you make a job change, take these steps to research a prospective employer. By doing so, you'll be able to mitigate your risk, make an informed decision and ultimately set yourself up for long-term career success.
I’m a career and life coach who helps people go from soul-sucking job to career fulfillment. As the founder of Corporate Escape Artist, I made the leap to entrepreneurship after a successful 25-year corporate career and have never looked back. Prior to Corporate Escape Artist, I held executive leadership roles in small tech firms as well as Fortune 500 companies including Dell and Sony. I have an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and am a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP). In addition to Forbes I also contribute to Thrive Global and have been featured in publications including the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Success Magazine.