Do you do your dues?

Do you do your dues?

04 Nov 14:00 by Ben Cantrall


I sat down with a handsome, intelligent, articulate (and extremely youthful looking!) man yesterday for a coffee (work related I assure you).

He has a fantastic CV- working with Aussie companies who have become globally known brands over the course of the last few years. His most recent role, however, left him wanting. Being a professional, he didn’t disparage his most recent employer- but it was clear he was disappointed in how it turned out.

I asked him what he’d do better next time: “do more due diligence on the company before accepting a job”. It got me thinking- here is a basic template for you to work through when doing your due diligence on a role.

Assess the industry and timing.

  • Are you joining the print industry and is it 1980? Brilliant! You’re … printing money. Are you joining the print industry in 2020? Decidedly different outlook.
  • Do 1 or 2 companies have the market locked up in your industry? Is it fragmented? What does this mean for you?
  • What will the experience and contacts you gain working in this industry for 2-3 years do for your future career, earning and learning prospects?

 Assess the company!

  • Is it Publicly listed? If so, it’s easy to find a lot of information online on the business through both quarterly/annual reports, earnings calls and commentary. You should be able to understand profitability, cashflow, operating costs, key areas of growth, risk and upcoming key hires.
  • Is it a start up/scale up with VC investment? Harder to find information about the financials, however I would start by looking at and industry press, as well as the VC sites that have invested in it. How many people work there? Is there a board in place? What are their stated aims?
  • Is it a bootstrapped start up/scale up? Great that they have a profitable model, more challenging to find transparency on their financials and cash runway. What questions can you ask in an interview- or outside the interview- to ascertain what you need to know?
  • Is it an established privately owned company? Who are the founders, what is their level of involvement in the business, do they care about the company too much or too little?
  • What is their position in the market? Is this a position you can get behind?

Identify the person who will have the biggest impact on your job, and learn about them? 

  • Is it your boss? If so, can you reference check them? Yes you’ve met the team and they all smiled and seemed lovely, but you’re not sure if it’s the “get me out of here smile” from Get Out (great movie). Can you speak with someone who your boss has managed previously?
  • Is it the company CEO/Founder? What are they like? Bold, in love with themselves, brash, risk averse, etc etc. Read customer reviews. Talk to previous employees. Ask other people in the business about their work habits.
  • Is it the customer/clients you’ll be dealing with every day? What are they like, and are you up for dealing with this set of people day in day out? What problems do they have, and do you think your prospective employer can help solve them?
  • Who is it, and can you work with them?

 Understand what support is in place for you to succeed.

  • Onboarding process- are you given a company branded laptop, book and t-shirt, then told with a (company branded) gun to your head to post a gushing photo to linkedin, and that’s it?... Or, is there a plan about your onboarding over the first 3-6 months, with clear expectations and milestones, and ongoing training?
  • Technology! What systems are in use? Is there training for those systems? Are there nominated experts within the business you can lean on? Is their CRM treated with the respect of the Rosetta Stone (it should be!)
  • Management support. Asking your boss the simple question “how much time are you expecting to spend working 1 on 1 with me each week?” will give you a good idea of this.
  • Do you have clearly defined goals in writing that constitute you doing a great job? If not, why not?

From a prospective employer’s perspective- I would personally be thrilled if someone asked these questions and demonstrated that they’d done this level (or more) of due diligence. It would make me want to hire them more! People who put this much thought and effort into career moves usually put even more thought and effort in to their job every day.