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How to get references on the company you may join

It’s a funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. (W. Somerset Maugham)

He came for the amazing opportunity at XYZ (the name is changed to protect the guilty). A year later he was gone. He quit. That happens a lot at XYZ. It seems like half the people who join the company are transplants.  It has been the case for at least 15 years.  They are hired from across the country and move to Harrisburg, PA.  It is one of the biggest companies in its market, a national powerhouse. But an unnatural percentage of its executives, computer experts, accounting gurus and even retail purchasers have been relocated here. Of course many love the place.  It is just that their first year turnover is huge and local people avoid the company.

I always warn people I place at XYZ of the reputation.  I help them find out if they are a fit before they join.  So, how can you avoid getting one of those short term, bad fit jobs?

Check the company references

Talk to 3 of their references.  They want to talk to your references, you can ask for theirs. You also need to find a few references on your own.  Finding references on a company will get you a clearer perspective on them and it is also a good networking tool that may get you a different job.

The best company references you can get are:

  •                         A talkative recruiter who knows the place
  •                         A happy ex-employee at another company
  •                         Someone doing your future job at a competitor
  •                         An HR person from another company
  •                         Someone you know who works in that department

I did not include a disgruntled ex-employee in the list.  They know why they quit, but usually not what the trends for the company are.  It’s okay to talk to disgruntled ex-employees, just filter their responses.  They may have an ax to grind.

How to find them

Connect through LinkedIn to the HR person and anyone you talk to at the company.  That way you will get networked into other people at the company now, and former employees.

Make a few phone calls.  You need to find out who the competitors are anyway. Make it a habit to search them out. Look for former employees at competitors.  They may have a better opening than the one you are looking at.  At the very least, you’ll be able to ask questions about the job you are considering.

Something to do today

Check references on the last 3 companies you interviewed with.  It is good practice.

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Later: Fake jury

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