A colleague of mine presented me with a career opportunity that I was very interested in. In previous conversations, I mentioned to her that I was interested in transitioning into this new career. Flattered and excited, I immediately requested information on the next steps, but here is what I did not do.
A company background check
In the same way a company checks you out, your research should include more than going to their website, and reading their mission statement. If they are a publicly-traded company, look at their current stock performance, as well as their quarterly and annual reports.
My colleague recently started working at this company and got a significant pay raise, and I would have as well, but money does not guarantee job satisfaction. I certainly asked her about her experience, but she was not there long enough (less than 90 days) to be a true representative. Also, as someone who may have wanted me on her team, she probably would not have told me anything to scare me off.
Get an honest opinion.
Regardless of the popularity of the company, get the opinions of both current and former employees. What is great for some may be the worst for you. Glassdoor.com is a great place to start your search to find unfiltered anonymous company reviews, and get a sense of the corporate culture. Do a company search on LinkedIn, where you can generate a list of first and second- degree connections within your network that currently or previously worked there. I recommend requesting brief informational interviews, either via phone or in-person, to gain additional insight.
For second-degree connections, you can request an introduction from a mutual connection.
To make a long story short, I did not pursue the opportunity. However, about a year later I did hear from a friend that the same company that I briefly considered had a high turnover rate and poor corporate culture. I could have possibly taken a wrong turn in my career, while I was blinded by the excitement of something, and by the dollars signs. So next time opportunity comes knocking, I will be looking through the peephole first.