Job hunting is as much an investigative process as it a reflective one. Finding a role that fits your skills and speaks to your ambitions is only half the equation. The rest? Ensuring your time and energy is well-invested by verifying if hiring companies are actually legit.
Of course, legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder — at least to some extent. I outlined a few not-so-scientific methods for recognizing sketchy businesses in my post 5 Signs That Awesome Job Listing is Actually a Scam.
While keeping your eyes peeled for these telltale signs is an important step in the job hunting process, it’s not where your research should end. Taking your career path seriously means taking things one step further, and an ad hoc background check does just that.
Check out the 4 websites below for a comprehensive look at any business’ background — the good, the bad, and the ugly, guaranteed.
Better Business Bureau
With over 4 million business reviews conducted to date, the Better Business Bureau is easily the most trustworthy tool for business verification.
The BBB is perhaps best known for its accrediation process, the goal of which is to recognize companies that follow “ethical business practices.” BBB Accredidation is basically a government-issued gold star that a business is awarded for, well, being on its best behavior. The checklist of BBB Accreditation Standards is a lengthy one, but it boils down to a few key qualifications: honest advertising, privacy protection and business transparency, to name a few.
BBB Accreditation is completely optional, which means it’s not a surefire way to determine if a company is legit. The BBB website does supply a bunch of other useful info, though, like the names of senior management, company contact information and customer reviews and complaints.
Bizjournals contains a directory of local business journals for 47 U.S. cities, including multiple large metro areas and dozens of state capitols (Click on “select a city” in the upper left corner of the Bizjournals home page to browse).
Researching companies on a local level is smart for a several reasons. First, you’re likely to find more recent information if you narrow your search to the company’s home base. Written in the context of regional culture, a business’ local press can also be a key indicator of its fit within the city as a whole.
If the company in question operates on a nationwide scale — such as a national non-profit or corporate chain — you can forego city searches altogether and use just the Bizjournals homepage, which covers national news by default.
Google News curates a range of news topics making headlines on the local, national and international front.
What sets Google News apart from similar platforms is its numerous search filtering options. Slider bars allow you to customize how often certain topics or sources appear in your search results.
You can also use Google’s advanced search to hone in on news from a particular time period or location. This is especially handy when researching large companies that get a lot of press or that have office locations all over the map.
As both a business review and job hunting platform, Glassdoor is as close as it gets to a one-stop job research shop. Its listings section is pretty standard and not much different from LinkedIn or Indeed. Glassdoor’s extensive review section, though, makes it far superior to other websites of its kind.
It’s Yelp for career development, in a way. Employees leave reviews for companies they currently or previously worked for, taking note of its pros and cons and even offering advice to management, if they so choose. Company benefits and job salaries are usually listed, too.
As it goes with any review platform, strong sentiments are a dime a dozen on Glassdoor, and the minute details of rave and rant reviews can be misleading. When taken as a whole, however, employee observations can tell a solid story about what the company in question is really all about.