My Medical Device Sales Career
I am often telling people to research a company before they take a job interview to determine the strength of the company. It is not difficult to do, but you must know what to look for and where to find it. A great job is not a great job if it is with a company headed downward! I don't want to scare you, but yes, you must look at the financial strength of the company and some other factors. Don't dismiss your lack of financial background to do this exercise, it is not difficult to do and I will show you how to do it. It is often just takes some common sense and a little knowledge!
You will see that the 5 Secrets to Picking a Strong Growing Company are no secrets at all to those that do the homework. A strong growing company will be your best chance of having some form of job security as defined in our current marketplace; meaning your best bet is picking a strong company assuming you have the skills and performance that an employer needs to help them continue to grow their business.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MEASURE A COMPANY'S STRENGTH
We aren't talking about best culture fit, employee turn over, if you are going to like the job or even the pay; we are talking about their business! Who cares about all that other stuff if the business model the company is founded upon is the next Block Buster Video or Kodak Film demise. This is why looking at a company, and where they are headed, in comparison to others in their industry is important. In fact, the companies I just mentioned, their entire industry is no longer an industry! At best, their industry transformed into the digital age of which they were not prepared.
So you must ask yourself,
"Is the company, or even the industry it is within, the future or the past?"
Is the company stuck making money off the past? Companies can run a relatively long time off an old declining business model; those are the companies that can suck you into a bad situation unless you have the skills to evaluate their business properly.
I view many resumes, as an active medical device recruiter, from job seekers who do not look at the quality of the company before they take a new job. Many just look at the job, what it pays and the type of activity they would be doing and if they would like doing the job. This can be seen regardless of industry, but in the medical device sales sector that I have been immersed in for years, I will typically hear the following words from those with chronic career disruptions within their resume (multiple jobs with short tenure),
I went to work for ABC company because my former boss went there and I loved working for him; the money was good, the product seemed great so I took it! I later learned the company was going broke and in fact, they laid everyone off. Now I am without a job, again. I just trusted my old boss was smart enough to go with a great company!
I hear an operative word within that explanation. Did you hear it? The word "again." I quickly look down the entire resume and see multiple positions this person has held, with none of them lasting more than perhaps 2 to 3 years. I simply say, "again?" Please explain what that means. I hear a general voice of the following explanations of "again."
The previous jobs were really big company names and, due to no fault of my own, I found myself in a place where I needed to leave because my job was at risk due to the company not hitting their numbers or they did a large layoff after I just started with the company!
This is usually said with dismay and utter bewilderment. I usually look again at the resume and have to ask what seems so apparent to anyone reviewing their career history. "But some of these jobs you were only in for one to two years, I know for certain that many of the companies you chose to work for have been downsizing (think pharmaceutical sales) for years now. Why would you select those companies?" The range of answers are almost always the same.
I knew the company had downsized in the past, but I figured that they wouldn't go out and recruit for a new employee and lay that same person off within 12 months! After all, it wasn't an expansion territory, I was replacing a representative in a current outside sales territory. I thought I was safe because they already downsized.
I really didn't look at their financials or the numbers, I just knew they were a fortune 500 company (or hot growth company, or all my friends went there over the last several years and making a ton of money, or they just have a great name in the industry or...) and thought the job and company were safe.
Not all of the calls I receive have a series of job hopping from selecting poor companies, some are from people who remained at a stagnant or declining company for many years and just thought they would never get laid off; so they hung on. They hung on after knowing for years the company was going no-where and then finally they are let go or the whole division is closed. It all results in job loss. A few people who have experienced this realize that to measure their next job opportunity it MUST be with a growing company (increasing sales with increasing profits on those sales). If you like start ups, then one must make sure it has enough outside investor funding and a sound business model (it is risk on either way in that situation and you probably aren't looking for job security anyway!). The best way to measure a publicly held company is starting with their stock ticker.
If a company is publicly held it must report their earnings quarterly. They spell it out in quarterly earnings calls (granted, sometimes you have to read between the lines of a CEO who is trying to paint a pretty picture to Wall Street, but the Sales Revenue and Earning's History is in black in white for all to read or listen to). You may be saying to yourself that you are not a numbers person and you don't really know where to go to get the information or even to understand it if you did. It is not rocket science and I have been doing case examples on a few companies as continued examples. This is the Blog Tag String I use for conducting this actual exercise to help you and I continue to add updated information on each company via the comment section under each Blog:
The basic concept is utilizing Yahoo Finance to measure company past earnings, which is good to know, BUT not as important to know as current earnings, FUTURE earnings and sales revenue growth expectations. I combine that core information with a continuum of updated financial commentary from various sources, the companies own website (for product detail), company news releases, quarterly earning reports and general web buzz. LinkedIn is also vital as part of this process as one reaches out to current and former employees to get the real word internal workings of the company and their products in the marketplace (also a useful tool for taking a temperature of the company culture, but let's stay focused on the financials for this article)!).
In short, a company is a breathing and living entity, some are healthy, some not so healthy, some are recovering their health or trying to and some are just in a declining health situation that is terminal and will lead to the ultimate death of the organization.
Understanding a Companies strength is easier for publicly traded companies, because they must account their financial activities and sales expectations quarterly to their stock holders and general public. If you are looking at privately held companies where no reporting is required, the task becomes more difficult, but it can still be done via social networking and utilizing both Facebook and LinkedIn. I will address that in the next article and place the link here when completed.
Remember, The 5 Secrets to Picking a Strong Growing Company is no secret at all in most cases, the secret is knowing to do this homework first! Most job seekers just don't bother to do the homework. Most job seekers become centered upon "just the job", not the company the job is housed within. A great job in an unhealthy company could result in an untimely death of the job and your livelihood. The single largest expense in most companies are their employee's. As much as you hate to think of it, you are just a number, a costly number! If the company is not increasing their sales and earnings, they cut their costs.
©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved
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