Sizing Up an Employer


It's important to know about yourself. It is just as important to evaluate organizations that might offer career opportunities for someone with your interests, academic training, and other qualifications. This is true for two reasons.

First, learning about a company or other organization in advance can be the key to a successful interview. If you don't know the basic facts about an employer, much interview time might be taken up asking questions that could have been easily answered in advance. This means there will be less time for the interviewer to ask questions and get to know you.

Not only that, but failure to do your homework before an interview--to read as much as you can about the company or organization--can quickly turn off recruiters. They may wonder about the interest of an applicant who didn't bother to learn even the most basic information.

The second important reason for sizing up potential employers is that the decision you make regarding your first job may well affect the rest of your career--and life. A good choice might play an important role in professional success and personal happiness. A bad choice can have the opposite results.

Following is a list of some of the key facts you should learn about any company or organization in which you're interested. There probably will be other information or questions that are important to you, but this list can serve as a starter in sizing up an employer.

1. How large is the organization? While this is important, don't let mere size scare you. Some people might be afraid of getting lost in a big setting, but those with real ability usually will be recognized in any organization, no matter what its size. Furthermore, small organizations become bigger, and large ones become bigger still. The important thing is that an employer considers each employee as an important individual, no matter how large the organization may grow.

2. How long has the firm been in business?

3. What are its products and/or services?

4. Does it have a good reputation?

5. Does it have regional or branch locations that could offer you geographical preference? While where you live is important, it may become less important in the future. If your work and the non-job environment are satisfying, almost any location can be a good place to live.

6. What is the employer's management organization like? Does it offer opportunity to grow and advance, or does it seem likely you might wind up in a dead-end job?

7. What kind of future seems to be in store for the organization? Is the outlook good for growth? Your starting salary may seem all-important now, but it's what comes later that really counts.

8. Does the employer have good "character"? People make an organization what it is. Pick a group of people you can be proud to call your associates. A group that is dynamic, responsive, and responsible. This is probably the most important single item to evaluate.