Trusting prospective employers

While I’ve been following the job market in ICT here in Finland for quite some time. Because most of the open positions have been in the Helsinki area, I was positively surprised to see several open positions here in Joensuu. While I read through the position descriptions in the paper I noticed the familiar name of an ex-boss. He was the CEO of a company that went (practically) bankrupt. It got me started on thinking on how previous experiences with people and their web presence are used in establishing credibility and trust.

The company that I worked for was a typical startup of the nineties and dot-com bubble. Lots of money flowing in from venture capitalists and fast-and-furious spending. As was the case when the bubble burst, we noticed that we don’t have enough real customers and the expenditures were way too high. So the lay-offs started. At this point I should mention as a disclaimer that I was laid-off in one of the final rounds.

I feel that the CEO and management of the company were very much responsible for the bankruptcy. Of course, in every company the ultimate responsibility lies with the management and board, but the dot-com bubble gave many people a handy way out — it was the market’s fault. The scariest part about it all was the way management and marketing kept spinning words and phrases so that nothing seemed to be wrong and we had many good customers who paid us a lot of money. They were quite good with their shovels.

Now I see a company with the same CEO and immediately my suspicions are triggered. The position that’s open is interesting and the previous relationship I’ve had with the CEO would give me visibility for pay increases and promotions but I can’t help think that the position should be avoided at all cost. So I turn to the web to see what the new company is doing and is it in any way viable.

So, type the company name into Google and see what results are obtained. A Google search doesn’t find the company’s own site, just some descriptions of presentations the CEO has given in industry events. It now seems that the new company is working on mobile stuff (same as the previous) and interactive television. Now red flags start popping up all over my head — especially after reading the synopses of the presentations’.

I can hear the same marketing-speak that I remember hearing several years ago. Sure, the buzzwords have changed, but the content is too similar; too filled with castles built in the clouds. I decided to still give the company the benefit of the doubt and looked at the Finnish company registry (YTJ) and found the email address of the CEO (why wasn’t it in the position listing I wonder). Using the domain of the email address as a web address worked – now I had the company pages open.

The company web site was more of the typical corporate speak that most company sites are. We build great products, have a excellent team of professionals and management that knows what they are doing and we have values. The product descriptions were sketchy at best and the only customer they have listed is a TV channel (who is also mentioned in a recent press release). None of this instills any confidence in me.

I’m still wondering why one companies site can increase my confidence in them while another’s just decreases it. Am I just prejudiced because of past experiences and mentions of technology that I don’t like? I don’t know, but I’d like to know what kinds of experiences others have had in the same way. How can a corporation create a website that fosters trust in prospective employees?

And BTW, the O’Reilly Radar has a good piece on marketing speak on the back-cover of books.

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