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Job Hunt 101: Bag the Best Employer

Job Hunt 101: Bag the Best Employer

Brian O’Connell |

September 14, 2009

You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye

Some giddy job recipients may be walking into an ambush they never saw coming. How? By failing to investigate a company’s hiring and firing patterns. Let’s face it. When the good times are rolling, companies typically offer fancier perks, higher raises, better benefits and, most importantly, job security. They have to, in order to stay competitive. But just because they do doesn’t make them a good long-term bet.

If the economy recedes like we’ve seen in the past year, companies will take measures to trim the fat, and they often do so in an emergency mode. That means cutting the most recent hires first. To stay ahead of the game, make sure you ask in your job interviews whether the company has a history of laying off employees. Ask how many job cuts the company has suffered in recent years.

If they won’t tell you, the Internet will. Try Dun & Bradstreet, which tracks thousands of companies across the U.S. Or use the stock quote ticker at Enter the ticker for Microsoft (MSFT), for example, in the upper right hand of the home page, and you’ll uncover a cornucopia of information on the computer software giant.

Kick The Tires

When researching a company’s financials or its business practices, take what you’re told with a grain of salt. And don’t pay much attention to annual reports, either. You may not get the straight skinny because it’s not in a company’s best interests. Your best bet is to talk to former employees or check out what the media has been saying about the company and/or its industry.

Again, the Internet is a big help. Prowl for stories. Many larger companies have dedicated chat rooms formed by staffers who might give you the sweet and lowdown, probably anonymously. Microsoft, for example, has a great insider’s blog.

Mine Their Web Site

Check out the company’s Web site. The best companies have pages devoted to employees where profiles and testimonials can be found. That means they demonstrate a keen interest in how employees view them. If they don’t, it’s not necessarily a red flag. But it’s not an addition to the “plus” column either.

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