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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Checklist before joining a company

Does the organization suit you

q What reputation does the organization have? Is it, for example, known for high quality goods or for giving good value for money?

q How is it regarded by its competitors and financial press?

q What sort of people work for it? Is there an old-boy network? Will you suit the profile of those at senior levels?

q Is it optimistic, go-ahead and expanding? Or the reverse?

q Do employees seem happy? Are there good conditions of employment?

q Is there a history of good or bad industrial relations?

The corporate image

1. It is difficult to asses the company accurately from outward manifestations. The products or services, the style of advertising, the buildings may all give a false or superficial idea if what life is like on the inside. You cannot tell what it is like to work for the company from looking at its products.

2. A company’s literature is a poor indicator of corporate personality. Literature is often produced by groups outside the company whose job it is to create desired image. But a company does not change every time a new advertising campaign is introduced.

3. A company’s physical premises—its office or factories – can indicate corporate personality. Small, Spartan offices may show a down-at-heel company, but they could also be a sign of an efficient management anxious to keep overheads to a minimum. Many a big organizations have modest offices.

1. It is important but difficult to asses what a company is from its staff. At an interview, you should try to meet as many people as you can. Be aware of the back-up-staff of secretaries, receptionists’ telephonist. How a company treats those on the bottom rung is a good company pointer to how they treat those at the middle/top.

2. A company with an advanced technological service/product does not necessarily have a progressive attitude to management.
More important are the price, quality and reliability of that service/product? Does it deal in a high volume of small transactions or a small volume of high quality transactions? What future does the service/product have?

First impressions

The first link with the company often occurs when you read its recruitment advertisement in the newspaper. Such ads tend to glorify the company, the job and the person needed to fill the position. You need to find out much more about a company you are considering joining.

Talk to friends, colleagues, people who have left the company and, if possible, those who are currently working there. You might pick up some company gossip from the local areas. Keep your eyes and ears open to the media and especially the pages of the financial press.

Get hold of the company’s annual reports from the last two or three years and those of the chief competitors and compare them.

Remember, however, that the report is prepared primarily for shareholders, bankers and financial institutions and the financial press. Consequently, it tries to show the company in the best possible light.

If for example, the company feels it necessary to present a balance sheet that shows a lot of cash, it will manage its transactions near the year end to produce such a situation. Read the financial press for more objective view of the company’s performance and management.

Company reports will contain much accounting jargon; don’t let it put you off. With a careful read through and common sense, you should be able to deduce a considerable amount about the company’s products, people, customers, markets, physical location, objectives and financial strength.

The comparative analysis over several years is often the richest source of information. Is the company achieving what it sets itself as a target? If the profit graphs show increasing earnings, are they increasing as fast as those of competitors?

Check on the following

  1. What is the company’s reputation in the market place? Is it well known and successful? What does the financial press say about it?
  2. How fast how much is the company expanding? Is the company’s expansion exceptional or typical of the market it is in?
  3. What exactly does the job require? How many staff will it involve managing/ supervising? What happened to the previous incumbent? Was he promoted or fired?
  4. Don’t be put off by high demands. You may not be perfect, but no body else is either.
  5. Does the company have the reputation for efficiency and profitability? Will you have the resources to achieve the expected results?

Think about the following

  1. How big is the organizational unit in which you will work? How big is the management team in your unit?
  2. Does the ad tell you the full extent of the duties you’ll be expected to perform?
  3. Where exactly you will fit in the chain of command? Who will you have to report to?
  4. To what extent will you be on your own? How much work will be done in collaboration with others?
  5. How generous is the salary in comparison with other companies in the same field? What fringe benefits and bonuses are offered? How much do top managers get?

Determine the following from annual report

q Ownership: who are the owners? What is the profile of those at the top?

q Corporate values and objectives; read the chairman’s statements, bearing in mind what is not said.

q Products, services and investments: what exactly are they?

q Future plans and expectations: is it likely to diversify or take over another company?

q Financial position: study the accounts and the audit opinion.

q The relative profitability of the different business segments.

q Growth record: is it expanding? Is its market shrinking?

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