Avoid Being Sold Down the River: Guest Comment

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Be wary of job offers that offer too much. Andrew Pullman, a former head of financial markets HR at Dresdner Kleinwort, explores why a new job could leave you at sea. Though his career has focused on London, Pullman's observations are valuable here in the U.S., as well.

Pullman: Make no assumptions
A very senior manager once told me that he was nicknamed "River" by many of his colleagues from a previous firm. "Why?" I innocently asked ... "because they claimed I sold them down the river by leaving six months after I hired them!"

Not an uncommon story in the City. How often have you heard about significant changes taking place after someone joins a new bank - the hiring manager not there when they arrive after three months of garden leave. How can this scenario be avoided? How can you ensure that the job you want is going to work out? What should you look out for?

It is important to look at all job moves with eyes wide open, after removing the rose-tinted spectacles, and carry out proper due diligence. A common mistake is to think that interviews are one way - it is also an opportunity for you to find out some key information. Ask your interviewers and yourself some obvious questions - do not ASSUME anything:

  • Why am I being offered a premium to join? Is it because of higher risk and could I be unemployed in six months? What happened to the previous incumbent? It is important to weigh up the cost dynamics and not just accept large amounts of extra money.
  • Carry out your own reference checks. Find out about the company, but also about the people. What is the culture like? How do they deal with exits in the firm.
  • What training and development will I be given? You must think beyond the next few weeks and how your career will develop.
  • How core is the business that I am joining? Try to find out about the strategy of the organization - it also makes you look smarter at interview if you ask strategic questions ! Be wary if your interviewer cannot answer them.

Finally, do a SWOT analysis. Start with a blank sheet of paper and list the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the new role versus your current, and any other roles. This simple exercise will eliminate most of the emotional and subjective elements and hopefully allow you to make a good, objective decision.

If you saw an advert for an investment that offered a 50 percent guaranteed return in a year would you take it? Evaluate new jobs in the same way - or start building your raft as soon as you get there!

Andrew Pullman manages People Risk Solutions (www.peoplerisksolutions.com), a human resources consultancy, and has worked in the City for over 20 years.

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