You can get much of this information in advance, Sindell says. Financial statements, industry reports and news stories provide insight into the stability and structure of the company.
Your network can help, too, Sindell notes. Chances are you know someone who can connect you with a current or past employee who can get you the inside scoop. From there, be sure to ask pointed questions during your interviews so you can get information on the things that matter most to you.
"Obviously, the temptation is to try to figure out how to get a job as quickly as possible," Erving says. "But you need to have a place where you can work well with the organization."
Getting That Good Fit
Erving himself took that approach when he moved into his current job at Systems Integration Solutions Inc. in Walnut Creek, Calif., about two years ago. He used LinkedIn to make contacts at the company and learn about the culture there. He prepared thoughtful questions that would help him understand the company's history and future, and he asked for an extra round of interviews so he could get to know more people.
"At the end of the day, there's only so much you can figure out from the interview process. It's a leap of faith. But if you can minimize the distance of that leap, the odds of you landing are better," he says.
Continually managing your career will give you a better shot of securing the right job when you need or want it, says Adam Alexander, vice president at MasteryWorks Inc., a career consultancy in Falls Church, Va.
"A career plan should be an ongoing process so you're always in a good situation or trying to improve your situation," he explains. That means thinking about what positions you want next, determining whether you can find them at your current company, getting the skills you need to move into those positions, and building relationships with people who can get you there.
"Everyone has to take an active role in their careers, whether they're looking or not," Alexander says.
That approach paid off for Luis Illanas, a 20-year IT veteran who was unexpectedly laid off in November from his job as a systems administrator. He quickly contacted more than two-dozen former colleagues to let them know he was in the job market. As a result of his solid network, he landed a position as a senior IT consultant at KDSA Consulting LLC in North Andover, Mass., within two weeks.
"I can't say enough about having someone who knows how you work and how much that helped," he says. "That's why, when you're working with anyone, you have to make a good impression. You never know when you might call that person for a job."
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