Feature: Do Your Homework to Ace the Job Market

Feature: Do Your Homework to Ace the Job Market

Feature: Do Your Homework to Ace the Job Market

In a perfect world, we could buy insurance to protect us against sudden staff reductions, unexpected layoffs and the elimination of whole categories of jobs from the American workplace. In the real world, however, we are forced to take care of ourselves. How can we do that? One way is to practice all of the steps in my 6-step plan for Career Guardianship. For an overview of this plan, please click here to visit the newsletter archive at WEDDLE’s and read my feature column dated November 1, 2003.

An important activity in Career Guardianship is doing your homework. Now, I know that sounds like a tedious way to spend your time, but there is an upside. Historically, employers have had an unfair competitive advantage in the recruitment process. They knew a lot about you-through your resume and the interviewing process-but you knew very little about them. The Internet, however, levels the playing field. It enables you to collect as much information about an organization-and maybe more-as it collects about you. To put it another way, if you don’t do your homework, you’re playing the game while wearing a blindfold.

But, what does “doing your homework” mean in a job search? It means conducting a Company Credit Check for each of the employers you are considering. Why should you bother? Because finding the right employer with the right opportunity for you is the key to your employment success. When you’re looking for a job and have bills to pay, it’s easy to rationalize taking any job you can get. If you do that, however, the odds are high that it won’t be a job or an employer where you can do your best work. And when that happens, it won’t be long before you’re right back out on the bricks looking for something else. In effect, a job with the wrong employer stalls your search for the right job and can even cause you to miss out on it.

So, conducting a Company Credit Check before you apply to an organization is critical to your success. But, how do you do that? By researching the answers to the following 10 questions:

  • What does the organization do? (i.e., what product(s) does it make or service(s) does it provide and in which industry)
  • What is the status and future prospects of the organization’s industry? (i.e., is it in an industry with strong growth prospects or does it manufacture buggy whips)
  • How good is the organization at what it does? (i.e., what is the reputation of its product(s) or service(s) among its customers and business analysts)
  • How good is the organization’s leadership? (i.e., have its leaders charted a clear course for its future and do they walk the talk)
  • What is the financial status of the organization? (i.e., is it profitable and managing its cash and other assets effectively)
  • What kind of corporate citizen is the organization? (i.e., does it make a contribution to the locales and communities where it operates or does it ignore, or worse, abuse them)
  • What’s the culture of the organization? (i.e., what are its values and mores, both in the headquarters and in the workplace)
  • What is the organization’s management style? (i.e., is it formal or informal, directive or laissez faire, centralized or decentralized, team-oriented or individually focused and so on)
  • What is the current state of morale within the organization? (i.e., are employees proud of the organization and motivated to do their best or are they simply putting in time until it’s safe to leave)
  • How competitive are the organization’s pay and benefits programs? (i.e., does the organization provide the financial rewards and support that you and your family want and/or need)
  • Sure, there are additional questions you could answer, but these 10 will give you the information you need to take some very important steps in your job search.

    First, the Company Credit Check will enable you to eliminate those organizations that don’t fit your job search objective. As a result, you avoid wasting time by applying to organizations where you either won’t be happy or are unlikely to succeed. Since every minute is precious in a job search these days, it’s important that you concentrate on those organizations where your goals, preferences and capabilities best fit.

    Second, the Company Credit Check enables you to wring even more information out of the interviewing process. Contrary to popular opinion, interviews-at least good interviews-are two-way streets. You should ask as many questions of the interviewers as they ask of you. That shows them you’ve done your homework (which will improve your interview score) and provides additional information you can use to evaluate the organization.

    Third, the Company Credit Check enables you to negotiate the best possible arrangement once an offer is made. The information you obtain will help you shape all aspects of your employment-financial, benefits, working conditions, schedule, location-to optimize your situation and your contribution to the organization.

    Doing your homework takes time and that’s clearly an investment in your job search. The return on that investment, however, is significant as the information you collect takes the blindfold off and ensures that you go into a new job and a new organization with your eyes wide open. In my next newsletter, I’ll talk about where you can conduct your Company Credit Check and collect the information you need online.

    Thanks for Reading,

    Peter Weddle

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Lee Hecht Harrison, the outplacement company, reports that severance payouts have increased-not by much-but at least they’re moving in the right direction. According to their study, payouts have risen from two weeks of pay in 1998 to three weeks in 2003. Where are the most generous payouts? According to the study, it’s banking and financial services companies. Who are the stingiest when it comes to payouts? It’s probably no surprise that the study found it was government, associations and nonprofits.

    The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the recruiting organization for jobs with the U.S. Federal Government, has updated its Web-site. Notwithstanding their track record on severance payouts (see above), jobs and careers in government can be very rewarding. To check out employment opportunities in every agency from the Agricultural Marketing Service to the Veterans Healthcare Administration, visit www.usajobs.opm.gov.

    World Privacy Forum, an organization that studies technology’s impact on individual privacy, issued a report urging job seekers to be careful about what information they provide to job boards and other sites. As we have long noted here at WEDDLE’s, you should never post a resume online that includes your home address and telephone number. Instead, use a cell phone number and/or an e-mail address that can be cancelled, if necessary (unfortunately, there are bad guys and creeps out there on the Web), andchecked often so that you can respond quickly to a recruiter’s call. What are the best sites for protecting privacy? According to the Forum, they are Medzilla.com, NationJob.com and CriagsList.org.

    WEDDLE’s announced the release of its 2004 books just in time to help you find a new or better job.

  • To find the best job boards and career portals for your employment situation, see WEDDLE’s 2004 Job Seeker’s Guide to Employment Web Sites and WEDDLE’s 2004 Directory of Employment-Related Internet Sites;
  • To learn the secrets of finding a great job online, see CliffsNotes: Finding a Job on the Web by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle; and
  • To write a power resume that will blast open employers’ doors for you, see WEDDLE’s InfoNotes: Writing a Great Resume.
  • To read about these and other publications, please click on the appropriate link to your left or click here to reach WEDDLE’s 2004 Online Catalog.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you were a Purchasing Manager looking for a new job in Texas, which of the following sites would leave you empty-handed?

  • BuyingJobs.com
  • Institute for Supply Management (www.ism.ws)
  • Pjobs.org
  • SupplyChainRecruit.com
  • 2. If you had experience checking individual loan applications for a bank and wanted to find a new job, where would you draw a complete blank online?

  • BioFind.com
  • LoanProcessorJobs.com
  • BankJobs.com
  • MortgageJobStore
  • 3. If you were a Hispanic-American, a person with a disability, a woman or a mature worker and wanted to find a site that specializes in job opportunities for candidates just like you, which of the following URLs would lead you in the wrong direction?

  • R2W.org
  • RetiredBrains.com
  • Witi4hire.com
  • Minorities-jb.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories



    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract and/or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Number of jobs: 6,800

    Salary levels of jobs: $76-100K/yr, $101-150/yr

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: Veterans and their family members

    Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Links to off-site resources, Confidentiality feature in resume database

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. Pjobs.org, the site of Privacy and American Business, a public privacy think tank

    2. BioFind.com, a site for the biotechnology industry

    3. Minorities-jb.com, a pornography site