It’s Not Just Employers Doing the Research.
Working at Plaid Swan has easily been one of my favorite experiences of my career thus far. Since November, I’ve been surrounded by wonderful co-workers, learning more than I could have imagined, and performing as part of a powerful team. Nevertheless, as my graduation sneaks closer and closer, I am continuing my search for work closer to my immediate family in the Southeast part of the country and research has never been more important.
Within the last few months, I have learned that it’s not just employers doing research on applicants. Especially when applying from a distance, it’s really important that applicants research potential employers. Let me tell you, this was a lesson learned the hard way through a run in with an agency that had some very strong ties and was a front to a not-so-great organization which I won’t disclose (shout out to you, Tom Cruz and John Travolta). My hope is that through my experience, others can learn to thoroughly research employers to make sure employment would be a good fit.
Here are 5 ways to research a potential employer:
- Pay close attention to the steps of the hiring process.
Are they interviewing you for a job you are truly qualified for? Are they asking relevant questions? If the answer is no to either, the employer may have ulterior motives. This was where I certainly realized the potential employer was not right for me. I had suspicions, so when the employer had me complete a personality test, I copied and pasted one of the questions into Google. It turned out that the test was the exact same used to recruit for the particular organization the employer was a front for. Cue the spine tingling chills. Red flag overload!!!!
- Find out their exact location.
Google the address on their website and see where they are located. Use Google street view to check out the front of the facility and neighborhood. Check to see if images found on their website or Google+ page match what you see in Google Maps street view. This might sound super creepy, but you cannot be too safe. The agency who I was interviewing with uploaded a photo to their Google+ page and website that did not match the address listed on their website or the street view in Google Maps. I tend to try to see the best in people, so I figured there was possibility they had moved and didn’t change the photo. Second red flag.
- Break out your web-stalking skills. Research the founder(s) and your interviewer(s).
Google is your friend. Naturally, you’ll research the company you are applying for, but it is also important to gain a deeper understanding of the people you’d be working with. Research the founder and your interviewer to see what kind of work they have done in the past and see if they appear in the “News” section of google. Use LinkedIn to see if they have recommendations and what their previous work experience includes. Learn more about the people whom the founder/interviewer have long-standing relationships with. I’m talking going full on private investigator on potential employers. When I was going through phone interviews, I could not find any results for my interviewer on any social media or Google. First red flag. Later on, Google searches revealed the founder’s deep ties to the previously mentioned organization.
- Pay close attention to any phone or in-person interviews.
Does the interviewer call or see you on time? Does the phone number match the office number or at least have the same area code of the office? It is important that the employer is legit and that they respect and value your time. In my experience, the interviewer’s number did not match the office location, the interviewer called late two separate times, and the call was dropped while my interviewer used an elevator. Third red flag. And why was the interviewing using an elevator during an interview?
- Follow your intuition.
The reason I researched this employer so thoroughly is because my intuition told me to. The first phone interview did not feel right, the second one plain creeped me out, and my research saved me from going for an in-person interview at an office that did not appear to exist with people trying to recruit me to an organization for which I am not interested. I kindly told the interviewer I was no longer interested in the position, and watched my opportunity to greet Tom Cruise in the hallway slip away. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, try to figure out why and trust yourself.
Overall, most potential employers are honestly trying to find great talent. However, when it does not seem right, use the tools you have to research until you figure out why. Serious situations like mine aren’t common, but thorough research can help you identify employers with whom you would work well within. Its time consuming, but research is never a bad decision. And no, I will not be joining the company of Tom Cruise and John Travolta anytime soon.
-Maggie Weldin, Marketing and PR Coordinator
P.S. Plaid Swan is hiring! And no, we are not recruiting for any sketchy organizations, but we do have an awesome outdoor deck and a Potosi Brewery stocked fridge. We are currently hiring:
- Senior level graphic designer or conceptor
- Experienced media planning/buyer
To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .