Why You Should Do a Background Check On Potential Employers

A job is made up of several components, but it’s a partnership at its most elemental level. You need to align with your employer to have a happy and productive relationship. Yet, a lot of people apply to jobs without knowing much about their potential partners.

The key is to learn about a company before getting too far into the relationship to make sure you’re compatible. 

If you don’t do that, you’ll be looking for another job in 6 to 9 months because what you thought was a dream job is really a nightmare. 

Job seekers need to look at it from a business mindset it’s very important for you to investigate the company. Be sure the company is going to investigate you. It’s important that you do your research and due diligence as well.

Ideally, you should do this as part of a comprehensive job search strategy that helps focus on the quality of your applications over the quantity. It’s really about having a job search strategy.

Identify your target companies

A good place to start in your job search is knowing which companies are your target employers. Those companies can be small firms you admire, employers you’ve heard good things about from friends and family, large regional companies or any place that piques your interest. Identify those target companies. It doesn’t have to be the LinkedIn and the Googles. What company really fits in with your moral compass and values?

Once you have a list of companies, she said it’s almost time to move into the investigation phase of the process — using internet searches and informational interviews. But first, you need to learn about yourself.

Evaluate your values

Before investigating your target employers, Joyce said you need to figure out what is important to you and what you value in an employer.

It is different for everyone and this is where your values come into play. What do you value?

A person who cares deeply about spending time with their family would likely want to find an employer that allowed its workers to unplug outside the workday or to have consistent working hours, for example. Another person may prefer a team-like atmosphere above time off or other factors. 

Interest – Are you interested in doing your job in that industry?

Development – What are the opportunities to grow at that employer?

Environment – Do you like that type of work environment?

Acknowledgment – Will they acknowledge your hard work in the way you want?

Leadership – Who makes up the company’s leadership?

Investigate your targets

Once you understand what’s important to you, it’s time to see how your target companies align with those values.

You can start by looking online for information about the companies. For example, what are people saying about them on LinkedIn and a number of other websites? Be careful not to let a few bad comments sour you on a company, though. Take it with a grain of salt, because we don’t know what perspective those comments are written in. Also, you should follow the companies on social media to see what they’re posting.

Then, it’s time to ask for informational interviews to learn more about the companies. You can reach out to former employees, current employees and anyone who would have knowledge about a company as an employer. However, you should go into these conversations understanding that they are only informational interviews — not job interviews or an opportunity to ask for a referral. It can lead to other things of course, but that’s not the reason to go into them.

The informational interview is an opportunity to learn whether you’re likely to enjoy working for a company. You can ask the questions that are most important to you and anything you couldn’t find out about online.

It’s an opportunity to really gain information. You should also ask the people you’re talking to if they know of anyone else you should reach out to for more insight into the company.

You can then use what you learn from your investigations to narrow down your target list of companies to those who align with your values.

If you eventually get an interview with one of your target companies, you can then use what you learned from your investigation to wow the recruiters and hiring manager with your knowledge about the employer. Also, you’ll be well-prepared when they ask if you have any questions for them.

Use these strategies reactively, too

Opportunities may arise outside your traditional job search. Recruiters may reach out to you with opportunities, for example.

In any of those cases, it’s important to use the investigation techniques listed above to learn about those opportunities. You want recruiters and hiring managers to reach out to you, but you still want to make sure it’s a good fit.

Being diligent about the offers popping up in your inboxes is also a good way to decrease the risk of falling for fraudulent offers. A recruiter or hiring manager should be able to offer answers and evidence for your questions about the company. If not, it may be a sign that the offer is too good to be true.

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