- Finding the right job takes preparation, research, and sometimes even investigative cold-calling.
- That’s according to Stephen DeFalco, CEO and chairman of Creation Technologies, who said anyone considering a new role should look into a company 10 times more than a company looks into them.
- Asking current and former employees what it’s like to work there can help you suss out any red flags and make sure the company’s values match up with yours.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Finding the right job takes preparation, research, and sometimes even investigative cold-calling – which means going outside of your comfort zone.
That’s according to Stephen DeFalco, CEO and chairman of Creation Technologies, who spoke at MIT Sloan’s Global Women’s Conference in October and said anyone seriously considering a new role should do 10 times as much diligence on a company as the organisation does on them.
“Doing 30 or 40 hours worth of diligence is not out of the question,” DeFalco told Business Insider.
It’s important to understand the workplace you might be entering from a broader perspective. Just as you want to know what your role will entail, you should understand the bigger picture – the company’s leadership ladder, how they enact change, and what employees value.
All those factors can impact your job satisfaction, which depends on more than your everyday responsibilities. According to a survey by career-coaching platform BetterUp, cited by Harvard Business Review, nine out of 10 workers would sacrifice 23% of their future lifetime earnings to have a job that was always meaningful.
Ask former employees about their experience at the company
For anyone considering a role at a new company, DeFalco advised talking to as many people as you can about what it’s like to work there. At the end of your job interview, ask for three contacts of people who have held similar positions. Then call them up and ask about their experience at the company. You should also ask those former employees to share three more names the company didn’t give you.
In recruiting, this strategy is known as “forensic referencing,” which is typically used as an extensive background check on candidates for executive roles and boardroom positions. As it turns out, this can work just as well for more junior job seekers.
DeFalco said it’s worth the temporary discomfort you may feel calling strangers. “If you’re too timid to cold call somebody you don’t know, that’s going to be a barrier for you,” he said.
In a video by GZero Media, Wharton psychologist Adam Grant suggested asking current employees at the company to tell a story about something that happened at their organisation that wouldn’t happen anywhere else. If you start to hear a lot of the same stories or themes, you’ll know those are major aspects of the work environment.
If you can’t find a phone number or you’re searching for more contacts on your own, you might be able to find them easier on LinkedIn, where you can search for current and past employees by company. You can also search for people through LinkedIn groups within your industry.
DeFalco said it’s fine to ask the hiring manager for more time to consider their offer, without fear of seeming disengaged. Be honest and tell the company that you’re being diligent, because you’re highly interested in the role. But don’t take too long either – give them a date they can expect to hear back from you.
Consider whether the company’s values align with your own
DeFalco spoke from his own experience. He said he made the mistake of not asking enough questions when he was considering a new role after leaving McKinsey & Company more than 25 years ago. He based his job search on title, salary, and position, rather than what it would be like to work at a company. “I was naive to miss the whole work environment values part of that,” he said, adding that the company didn’t make changes as quickly as he wanted.
Looking back, he realised the culture valued hierarchy and teamwork that drove incremental change, but not bold ideas, which didn’t match with his values. “It wasn’t a failed position as much as it was not the right thing to move me forward at that point in my career,” he said.
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author, previously told Business Insider that no amount of money will compensate for a mismatch with a company that eats away at your personal integrity.
“I view the entire process not as an evaluation process, but more as a matching process to figure out do they want you and do you want them,” DeFalco said.
You can be more selective than you think, even early in your career
Whether you’re looking for a C-suite role or the next step in your career, this method can lead you to straight-forward answers you won’t always get from a hiring manager.
Executives with decades of experience aren’t the only ones who should be selective. DeFalco says people in earlier stages of their careers should be, too. But to be clear, he doesn’t mean 21-year-olds out of college.
“Post MBAs or late twenties, you should start thinking, ‘I’m building a career, not getting a job,'” he said.
He added that it’s important to have a mindset that you’re making an investment in your career, as much as the company is investing in you.