Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Gamble of Looking for a Job

Recently, TSB has spoken to a few colleagues that have been interviewing for new jobs with early growth stage companies. One of the challenges of the interview is determining whether the organization and the culture that it exudes can mesh with your experience and personality. Synergy is important if you are going to survive. Identifying a company's strategic objectives and how they intend to tactically execute can be the most important task during the process. There is a difference between needing or wanting a job, and establishing a career path. Hopefully, as you go through this process, the prospective employer and employees that interview you are being transparent. Sometimes there is a fine line between what is real, and what is fantasy.

Some of the questions that you need to be concerned with is how long has the company been in existence? This will provide you with a snap-shot as to its longevity, and how it relates to execution. Is the company managed by the original founders, and what are their backgrounds? Have they ever run a company? Do they strike you as leaders or micro-mangers, and do you believe they have what it takes? What is the company's revenue stream? This will allow you to assess the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in relation to execution capabilities. Ask for sales revenue from the previous year to the current year, and analyze whether its expectations meet the realities of the marketplace? What type of intellectual property do they own, or have pending? If you must, sign a confidential disclosure agreement (CDA). Remember, the reason they are interviewing you is because you have a special set of skills that they need. This is a two-way street. How is the company financed? Is the company self-funded or is the company funded by private equity? Remember, getting into an organization that is undercapitalized is a kiss of death. If they are attempting to raise capital, ask how long have they been doing it. This can be a barometer as to what potential investors think of the person or people running the company. Don't be afraid to ask these questions. This will allow you to do your own due diligence. How many new products have they launched within the last year, and what is on the horizon? Is there innovation or stagnation? What type of marketing platform does the company have? Is it unique or is it more of the same? Do they want to get to know who you are? Why would you want to work for someone that doesn't take the time to get to know you? This is very important considering that you are on a date, and it may take a few more interviews before either party intends on committing to one another.

Getting hired is like getting married. You have to trust one another, while learning to live with each other's idiosyncracies. Look around the office and observe how the employees interact with one another. Do you get a sense of camaraderie? Some of the best resources are your friends within the industry. If you have any reservations about the company, its better to walk away. Remember, looking for a new job is like gambling;

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run, you never count your money when you're sitting at the table, There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealings done."

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