New Job Offer? Better Check It Out.
By Dennis Nishi

While working as a financial consultant in Miami, William Kaiser was offered a full-time job in the compliance department of one of his bank clients. The pay was fine but Mr. Kaiser had other potential concerns.

“As a consultant, you might not be working for a full 12 months. There’s always an attraction to be in a full-time opportunity—if it’s a good fit,” says Mr. Kaiser, who started prodding his professional network for inside information about the workplace culture at the bank.

That’s when he found out about the spate of turnovers in the department that he would be working in. The bank also had past issues with its compliance practices that might not have been fully resolved. Mr. Kaiser graciously declined the offer.

In this tough job market, not everybody has the luxury of turning down work. But settling for a job that you could end up hating poses risks that can negatively affect your career. It can, for example, visibly taint your attitude toward work and co-workers, or typecast you into a job role that can be hard to break when you’re ready to move.job-offer
Don’t make rash or emotional decisions, says Gustavo Pena, managing partner of Ascendo Resources, a staffing and recruiting company in Miami. “I’ve seen it a lot,” he says. “A Fortune 100 company, growth left and right, but the manager was a tough person to deal with. A bad boss is just one of many things that can make your job difficult. That’s why you have to get a look inside.”

Reach out to your network and try to get an introduction to somebody who can offer some insight about what it’s like to work for the company.

A former employee can be helpful, as can a vendor or even a competitor. Websites such as also offer anecdotal accounts from actual employees about a company’s salary, working conditions and management.

Just don’t base your decision solely on the positive or negative opinions of a few anonymous sources that you find on the Web, says Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solver, a career-management company in New York. “There’s certainly a chance that some people reporting may be disenfranchised.”

If you interview in the morning or after regular work hours, look to see who’s at the office. Do they look frazzled, listless or happy? That can give you an idea of the expectations of the employer, says Ms. Safani. “You can match that to what they’re saying is the reality of the job.”

Be transparent about your own expectations and needs throughout the interview process so there are no surprises, and try to get a commitment in writing on early promises before making a decision. Be wary of hiring managers that mention schedule flexibility or relocation assistance but defer to a handshake.

Employers will respect you more for being honest about why you’re turning down their offer. Inadequate compensation is a perfectly acceptable reason to mention, as is taking a job at another company. But don’t single out anything specifically negative such as being put off by a smug boss. Instead, reply by saying that the company isn’t a good cultural fit.