“Office” by Julia Manzerova.
What if you approached your next employer in the same way you would check out the health report of your favorite restaurant? When we job hunt, we mostly fixate on the position we’re trying to land. We consider salary, advancement opportunities, healthcare benefits, and other employee perks when looking at our next employer. However, we can often go much deeper in the research of our potential employer. The company you want to work for may not be a good fit for you. Imagine the joy of landing that job, starting work, and the horror of discovering you hate your new company. You could have a problem with way the business is run, or the company culture in general. In other words, after getting your foot in the door, you’re already looking for an exit. Taking the time to dig into the publicly available records of your next employer is a great way to avoid this scenario. Sometimes, you make discoveries you didn’t want to know about. Other times, there are things you have to know about.
Extremely savvy consumers who want to know more about their favorite restaurants will often start with a health report. These reports are made available by state and local governments. Many counties have a convenient list of restaurants available with dated reports. The reports will often list if the restaurants are in compliance, out of compliance, and if the issue was resolved during the visit. (For an example of a local report, read Ardmore, PA’s Taste of Olives’ inspection.) Additionally, consumers who want to learn more about a particular restaurant can turn to review sites such as Zagat or Yelp for customer experiences.
When researching a future employer you can tackle your research in a similar manner. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is a good place to check out the health and safety compliance records of a company. You certainly don’t want to find yourself working for an employer in constant violation of the OSH Act. OHSA has an enforcement inspections database that is searchable by the name of establishments. You can search for employer violations, cases, and inspection dates across federal and state governments. Information is readily available, but it isn’t as easy to interpret as a restaurant health report. OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System is meant for in-house use, despite being publicly available. You can discover if an employer had any violations, if they were fined, and if there was an informal settlement. The number of violations may be concerning, or the complete lack of violations could put you at ease. Just like a restaurant report, an OSHA report is only a snapshot of a company during a specific time.
Job review sites such as Vault or the more popular Glassdoor are a great place to get an idea of a company’s culture, directly from employees. Glassdoor was founded in 2007 and currently has a database of over 6 million detailed company reviews. The reviews cover everything from interview reviews and questions, salary reports, benefits reviews, CEO approval ratings, and even employee recommendations on how the company can improve. Searching for a particular company is as easy as entering a name. Reviewers range from entry-level employees, all the way to up to senior management. The interview reviews provide some insight on the hiring process. Glassdoor is a great way to gather information about an employer. A company with lots of subpar reviews or a confusing interview process may be noteworthy.
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The major downside to Glassdoor is the inability to sort out review by location and career position. For example, you may want reviews from IT Project Managers for Comcast based in Philadelphia. A search of Comcast with those terms yields general reviews of the company from employees in a variety of positions, in numerous locations across the country. There’s no way to hone in on those specific search terms, forcing you to read reviews from similar positions. There are also a lot of anonymous reviews on Glassdoor that tell you very little about a job position. All and all, Glassdoor is still a good resource for researching companies.
Another great way to check out an employer is by word of mouth. Think about it. You would definitely ask your friends about a restaurant you were curious about. In the same way, your friends, social networks, and even networking events can help you determine if a company would be a good match. Don’t be afraid to ask contacts on LinkedIn about a company’s culture. Be sure to ask about company culture from employees at networking events. Facebook posts and tweets make it very easy to get the “word on the street.” Try it for one of your target companies. Often these social inquiries generate leads and introductions without you having to outright ask.
Doing extra research on the front end provides another bonus in your job hunt. If you discover the company is a good match, you will be able to fine tune your marketing efforts. You’ll know enough about the company to hit their hot buttons and land an interview directly with a hiring manager. That’s a huge advantage over your competition!
Researching an employer in the same way you might scope out your favorite restaurant isn’t easy. Searching for work place reports and employee reviews can be a daunting task. A little work goes a long way in finding out if a company would be a good a fit for you. When taking your career to the next level you want to know as much as possible about your next employer. A combination of compliance information and employee-driven reviews will help to ensure you don’t regret getting the job. The mental stress, depression, and overall frustration resulting from a bad match with an employer can be detrimental to your wellbeing. On the flipside, fully researching a company and discovering they are a good match can help your chances of being hired. Much of what you find out can help you more effectively market yourself to meet their needs. In short, you can’t afford to not thoroughly research a company.
Music video by Gin Blossoms performing Found Out About You. (C) 2004 A&M Records