10 Ways To Investigate Your Next Employer – Sherlock Holmes Style

10 Ways To Investigate Your Next Employer – Sherlock Holmes Style

As many of you know, I try to encourage job seekers to prepare and plan for every eventuality, whether it is preparation for a CV, preparation for researching a company or planning for interviews.  I have been beating the same drum for years, and if job hunters know what they want, the better their planning, hopefully the better the outcome.

I know it works as many people have told me so, but as you will soon see, unfortunately it is not fool-proof.  You can only do so much and go so far, no matter how thoroughly you execute your plan – some things can still go drastically wrong.

Why am I talking about this?  Well, I was reading an article a few weeks ago entitled ‘Rogue Employers’ (their phrase, not mine).  In essence, it was suggested that at some point in your career, you may well accept a position that seems perfect on the surface, but once you have started and are maybe only months into the role, things start turning very sour.

This is exactly what happened to a Finance Director I interviewed last week.  They had really high hopes for their new role, but decided that just two months in, they had to leave.  Why?  An aggressive MD who was autocratic, ruled by fear, and as a result, there was low morale across the business.  The owner it seems was a different person to the one they met during the interview process.  Even though she also met some of the other senior people in the company, there was no inclination that anything would be amiss.  I know that not every employer is a good one, not all companies operate professionally and not every boss is a good manager.  How true in this instance….

So, is there anything you can do to stop your job turning sour once you have accepted an offer?  Well, unless you can resolve mysteries like Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes there are no guarantees of course, but there are some steps you can take to make sure you have made the right decision in the first place.  You can do what most companies do to you once you have sent the offer details back.  They may well check your online profile and background, follow up employment references, verify your qualifications, undertake credit checks, criminal records and more.  You can do the same too, and this checklist may help you, just so you are 100% sure you have made the right decision:

  • Ask your friends and connections if they know anyone who has worked at the company before to get their honest opinion


  • Use Linked-In to check the company profile.  From here, under the ‘employees’ tab you can see who has left and joined the business recently – have many left in comparison to the total number of staff ?


  • Is there a company Group on Linked-In which you can join. See what is being discussed and if you can connect to any of the members


  • What are the opinions of recruiters that you know who have recruited for the company before?  Are there recruiters who will not deal with the company – why? Is the business always looking for new staff – why?


  • Is the job you are accepting, one which they have been trying to fill for many months – why has it taken so long?  Are they trying to fill it urgently – what’s the hurry?


  • Compared to other jobs you have considered, is this the job that ticks all the boxes. If so, great, but step back and ask yourself is it really ‘too good to be true’?


  • Check the business section of local/national newspapers to see what news, if any, has been reported in the press about the company – good and bad.


  • If the business is FTSE or AIM-listed, check the LSE announcements over the last six months.  These can tell you a lot about contract wins/losses, legal proceedings being taken against the company, company trading statements and their financial health, directors leaving / due to join


  • Do a Google search on the company name and see what information comes up about them


  • Search your manager’s name on Google and Linked-In.  Check out their employment history and whether they have managed for long, been at the company for a long period, what is their academic background etc.  Do they have any recommendation’s of their work and from whom?


Whilst you cannot eliminate everything that could go wrong in a new role, you can research your next employer before you start, as much as they can do about you.  After all, you do not want to be accepting what seems to be a great job offer and a few months down the line feel you have to leave.  You have the option of declining as well as accepting a job offer, so make sure you accept for the right reasons, and use the tips above to confirm your instincts.

Best wishes

Leslie Fearn

Leslie has over 15 years Recruitment experience helping blue-chip corporates to SME businesses recruit for their Finance teams.  As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy, a Specialist HR and Finance Recruiter across the Thames Valley and London, he is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today.  Follow his helpful tweets on Twitter: @McGinnisLoy

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