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Working Wise: Employer Research

Dear Working Wise,

I can’t stand the company that I work for anymore. I want to switch to a competitor, but I don’t know anyone there and I’m not sure if it’s any better there. Is there any way to find out what it’s like to work there before I take the plunge? 
Signed, Ready to go

November 24, 2017

Dear Ready:

There are a number of ways you can find out about a company’s culture, management and compensation before you seek a new job.

As you mentioned, the best and easiest way is to ask someone you know who works there. Another option is asking someone you are connected to on LinkedIn. Just type in the company’s name in the search box and LinkedIn will show you anyone you are connected to who has worked there.

You could try calling the company’s human resources department to ask for an informational interview. This isn’t a job interview; it’s just an opportunity for you to ask questions.

If you are looking for a more impartial opinion, check out Canada’s Top 100 employers . Employers are evaluated on eight criteria that contribute to employee satisfaction. New winners are announced every November.

Another fantastic option is to attend a job fair where the employer is recruiting. Job fairs give you the opportunity to ask the questions you want to ask with relative anonymity. A calendar of upcoming Alberta job fairs is available at

If you want more than one person’s opinion, there are also a number of web sites that host employee reviews of employers. Indeed offers employer reviews and ratings, including: compensation, advancement opportunities, job security, management, and culture. Glassdoor offers job postings, employer reviews, salaries, and even reviews of job interviews at each company.

They also offer an annual 50 Best Places to Work list—including a list of the top 25 best places to work in Canada.

One caution with these sites is that unhappy employees tend to be over represented—happy employees are less likely to post a review. If you choose to read these sites, you might want to treat the reviews as supplementary information, or as a way to scan for recurring concerns, instead of relying solely on the ratings.

If you would like more tips on informational interviews and researching potential employers, visit the alis web site and read the Advanced Techniques for Work Search booklet available on the site. Alis also offers a helpful article called Research Employers.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/Creatista

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