5 Important Steps to Take - And 1 To Avoid - When Vetting Potential Employers or Clients!
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, my first job was with a major rental car company. I found the entry-level job by reviewing the “wall of employers” outside of the university’s career services office. Upcoming graduates could sign up for interviews and submit a resume (on paper, of course), waiting anxiously for a phone call with an interview day and time.
I knew very little about this company prior to the interview, and it did not seem to matter. The interview went really well, and I got an offer - that I quickly accepted!
In the next few months leading up to my first day on the job, I met a few folks who used to work there. All comments were positive - but they only lasted about a year or so.In my naivete, I did not think of asking any more probing questions.
But I soon realized that while the job was great resume-building experience, I was also not going to be there forever. The hours were long and varied. On really busy days, my lunch consisted of a slice of pizza on my way out to wash a car or pick up a customer. My dress clothes got dirty from pen marks, snow, dirt, and salt - a typical northeast winter was a horrible time to rent cars and keep your clothes clean!
What if I knew all of that prior to my job interview? I highly doubt that I would have even considered an interview with this company. But as the years have gone by, vetting employers has become much easier - and candidates should know much about a prospective employer prior to even applying for a position.
It’s All About the Research
Vetting employers in today’s world has never been easier! Thanks to the Internet, you can research ALL sorts of information, from stock prices and company mergers to social media posts, blogs, latest news, and who works there by accessing LinkedIn.
Prospective employers are candidate savvy - but candidates are definitely employer savvy these days. In addition to finding the right type of position, candidates now want to specifically work for an employer or client that they mesh well with and share the same values and personality traits. Deloitte’s recent 2021 survey of Millenials and GenZs found that nearly half want to work for employers who share the same ethics that they do.
Employers expect candidates to know about them prior to applying for a job, let alone before the first interview. As you conduct a job search as a regular employee or are trying to find the ideal client for your VA business, here are five steps you can take to vet a company or business.
- Review the company website: Obviously, right?? But seriously, company websites are full of valuable information, and many candidates do not take even five minutes to review them. Most organizations know that job seekers are looking for more than just a paycheck. Forward-thinking companies share their mission statements, company values and why they are in business, commonly found in the “About” section. Determine if what you are reading aligns with your values. Larger organizations share press releases and often have a “Careers” section. Does the company have any employee profiles on the site? If you can envision working alongside the team, explore the organization further.
- Find the company on social media: Check out the company’s social media profiles. Pay attention to where they have a social media presence, what they are posting about, and how often they post. Do they interact with customers on social media, and possibly handle any issues or complaints? Follow them to get a clear idea of what they are like online. They are checking you out (most likely) on your social media!
- Read customer reviews and testimonials: Customer or client reviews and testimonials say so much about how a company or organization conducts business. Learn about the types of issues that a company’s products or services solve for their customers, and if the company lives up to its mission or values. What is the overall experience like? Find reviews on social media pages, Google, or Yelp. If there are issues, were they solved promptly and to a customer’s satisfaction? Review the Better Business Bureau site to see if the company has complaints. I would not necessarily exclude a company for one bad review - but if the trend is more towards the negative, that may be a red flag.
- Check out the latest news articles: Google the company and then click on the “news” tab with the search. You will see the latest news articles about the company - good, bad, or otherwise. These provide valuable information when considering the position, and make for great talking points during your interview. Stating you read the article and asking a question or sharing an opinion will show your interest in the company and help you stand out.
- Learn what former and current employees have to say: Customers have opinions, but so do former and current employees. Glassdoor and Indeed are great sources of employee reviews, and you might even find some on Google or Yelp. Again, keep in mind that negative reviews may be out there; people tend to write reviews when they have a bad experience.
- Research pay ranges for your desired position: Many job postings omit hourly pay or salaries on job descriptions, which is a source of frustration for many prospective candidates. In fact, many organizations want candidates to state what their desired pay range is in a cover letter or by asking about it through a job board screening question. So, it makes sense to research the going rate given your level of experience, the type of job, and the area where the job is located. If you are a virtual assistant, find out pay information through Google or by asking this question in an online VA group. If hourly pay rates or salaries are out of alignment, the company or organization may not be a good fit for you.
One Thing You Should Not Do When Vetting an Employer or Client
Avoid stalking the hiring manager or HR representative online. While it is completely normal to check out a LinkedIn profile prior to an interview, avoid “friending” them on Facebook or following them on Instagram. Those are most likely personal profiles and should be considered off limits. Do you allow complete strangers on your personal social media accounts, with access to your photos and personal hobbies? Probably not - keep all interactions as professional as possible.
Should you request a connection on LinkedIn with a company representative as you seek out new opportunities or leading up to the interview? I would only do this if the connection request is accompanied by a well-written and brief note as to why you are making the request. It’s up to the person on the other end if he/she wants to accept.
Do these tips make sense to you as you seek new opportunities? Let us know in the comments below - we enjoy hearing from you!
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