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Get the Facts on a Potential Employer

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Salary and benefits are only a small part of the big picture when considering a job offer.






You need to think about much more than just compensation. You should learn about a company's culture, financial position and reputation so you can make an informed decision.

With a little research and the right questions, doing your due diligence can be easy.

The Invisible Office

A company's culture can be hard to pin down. It's essentially the way people in a company work -- and work together. Company culture often dictates how people interact with one another, what type of hours they work and their attire.




To get a sense of company culture during your interview, pay attention to workers' demeanor and dress. Ask questions such as "How are decisions made?" and "Does the company emphasize working in teams or individually?"

You can also ask about the company's values. And don't forget to inquire of your interviewers how they would describe the company and what their experiences working there have been like.

Last, visit the company's Web site for a description of its culture or a mission statement that reflects its "personality."

Getting There, Being There

Never underestimate how much your commute and your workspace can affect your happiness when considering a potential employer.

Your commute is a key part of your workday, so you want to know what to expect. Make a trial run of your commute, and do it during rush hour.

Also, during your interview, take note of the building, its surrounding area and your potential workspace. Is the company in a large campus or a small building? Will you be working in a cubicle, an office or an open room? Does the company have a cafeteria, or can you easily go out to get lunch? All of these factors will contribute to your job satisfaction.

Built to Last?

A company's financial future is a crucial factor in your decision to accept a job offer. You need to know that a company is stable and that its odds for longevity are good.

You can find out about a company's financial position on Yahoo! Finance. There you can read a company profile, see the latest company news, review recent financial reports and track the stock (of public companies).

If you're considering a job at a public company, you should also review its most recent annual report.

Word on the Street

Your employer's reputation can affect not only how you feel about your job, but also your job security and future career prospects.

Do some research on a prospective employer's reputation. Find out how well regarded it is within its industry. You can also look into whether it has a code of ethics and, if so, what the code says.

You may also want to research its corporate philanthropy, political connections, company-sponsored foundations and environmental impact.

Ask yourself "Will being associated with this company help my future career prospects?" and "Will I be proud to work there?"

If the answer is yes, then this employer may be the one for you.
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