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How to really research a prospective employer via internet? | Reply
Topcoders,

I'd like to know some methods, tips, tricks to research a (usually non-public) company in term of their capacity to be an employer, in many countries. Preferably methods doable using internet, legal, and ethical.

As for me, the things I search in internet that are relatively region independent:
a. Do they have a website? If they do, for how long do they register the domain? When is the start term of their domain registration? Under whose name is it registered, a company or a person. Is the contact information transparent? Is that person/company google-able?
b. Are they searchable from search engine? What kind of information available? Is the information approved by company officially? Do they manage their image in the internet? Do they manage it well?
c. Search social networking site. Find people who work there. Sample some of them. See whether many people only workplace is there or almost nobody currently works there or almost everybody currently works there, etc. See how often they update their profile. When do they update it? What are their typical profile?
d. See their blogs. From the blogs, do they love their work or resent it? Do they love their co-workers. How smart are they? How smart people who can become a manager? What kind of experience they're exposed to: new gadget, new travel, etc. which implies how much they made. How about the relatively lowly worker? do they have time to do other things besides work. Do they even have a blog?
e. How do they post job ads in internet? See spelling and grammar (especially if the ads language is different than native language) choice and mistakes. What kind of contact number do they put? Do they post job ads in internet?
f. See the link to all those things, see information about parties related to them. Their clients perhaps, or suppliers.

I particularly need some info like the basic information of all company incorporated in certain countries where ownership structure can be traced. Maybe their tax exemption or obligation which can implies their size, revenue, or choice of accounting method. Probably some complicances they must confirm with.

Thx in advance.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
...nobody willing to share some tips?

Let me rephrase the question, what are some signs a company is a good/bad place to work at using information from internet? The signs don't need to be conclusive, just unique enough to be a possible indicator.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
I think that the obvious sign is if you see the same job offer: month after month, after month...

EDIT: in reply to Jumping John,
When I meant "same", it was same everything(same city, same place, etc)in Addition those offers usually are accompanied by a "able to work under pressure", but they don't define the level of pressure..., those offers make me think if I am making a deal with the devil, if I am selling my soul or things like that :)
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Poncholo) | Reply
On the other hand, you need to be aware that some extremely good opportunities are at companies that have a steady pattern of growth and may indeed post the same, rather generic, positions over the long term. The real warning sign is a very specific job post that never seems to be filled, or quickly becomes vacant again.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
What do you think about a company who insist you to write down your expected salary in the application? salary history? how about insisting you to write it down just before the interview starts?

How about company requesting in the ad that you must be willing to work overtime?

How about company insisting you must have a CS or computer engineering degree for entry level programming position? For senior level position?
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Poncholo) | Reply
I think "able to work well under pressure" combined with "must write expected salary down" is a very suspicious combination. If the job is full of pressure, candidates need to know how high the pressure is before knowing what salary they're expecting for that pressure. That combination is like an ad looking for the cheapest people able to endure abuse.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
Asking to write down salary expectations is not so unreasonable on the face of it; they're wasting both your time and theirs to interview you if what you want out of a job it 20% more than they can pay. However, it fails to recognize than many applicants are flexible with respect to pay depending on other aspects of the job. Salary history is generally a more reasonable question.

Telling you that you must be willing to work overtime is a good thing, compared to not telling you and then insisting you must work overtime. Personally, I'd probably shy away from such a position since it tends to imply a lack of planning on their part, but in some cases it can be reasonable: firm doing work to order for customers who may not completely understand their requirements and hence may need last-minute changes, jobs in which there is an operational support element that may require weekend/evening calls, etc. These are reasonable parts of a job and it's better you know about these demands up front so you can see if you're a match for the position.

Requiring a professional degree for positions is a good sign in my mind. I find they are often flexible on the particulars of the degree (a BSEE may turn out to be okay, or a mathematics or physics degree), but looking for people who have been exposed to a CS education is a reasonable thing. Seeing a requirement for a graduate degree is also a good sign (assuming you have one:), but can also be a sign that the place has become full of themselves. The classic example was the job posts Bell Labs used to have for computer lab technicians that asked for a master's degree and preferred a PhD for a job that primarily involved pulling cables and installing software.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
If you start asking employers exactly *how* hard they require you to work then I would imagine that you will receive very few job offers.

If you expect a large salary then expect to put the hours in.

Some companies are completely up front about the commitment they require. For example, if you look at the Goldman Sachs website they have profiles of numerous staff who describe their working day including what time they enter/leave the office.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Poncholo) | Reply
I figured you were warning about the "bad case" (the spot that never seems to be filled). I've worked mainly for slightly larger outfits where there tend to be reasonably well-defined positions (software developer IV, Senior Programmer, whatever) and the job posts tend to be generic for people for these positions and keep being posted year after year since the company needs to fill positions to grow. The place I work now is an example: we post jobs continually with few specifics since we're hiring for the long-term and not just to fill some short-term project niche. Even when the job offer is made, the exact department the individual will be working in may not have been determined as the groups inside the company bid for those being hired.

The "work under pressure" is a warning sign, if you don't like working under pressure. I've known people who thrive in that kind of environment (and seem to create them for themselves by letting their project slip along until it becomes a crises). Like the comments I made above to the "overtime required" statement, it's better the company let you know these things up front so you can decide if this fits your abilities, desires, and needs. I've had to lead people who could not work under pressure and completely freaked when something changed in the requirements or schedule; it would probably have been better had they been able to find a more predictable environment.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Stroker_Ace) | Reply
There is "work well under pressure" and there is "work hard". They're not the same.

When a company stated upfront that you're required to "work well under pressure" and requires you to write down your expected salary in your application, the people who apply will be skewed towards people who underestimate the pressure, perform below average, need to get work ASAP, or underestimate his/her value because they will be the one who bid the lowest. I bet experienced employer know how those kind of people won't last long. So employer who states those two requirements above is either obsessed with cost or inexperienced. I believe the majority is obsessed with reducing cost/salary.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Jumping John) | Reply
Pulling cables is NP-hard.
Re: How to really research a prospective employer via internet? (response to post by Rustyoldman) | Reply
I think you are wrong. The problem of pulling cables is quite tractable. It's pushing cables that is NP-hard.
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