Monday, April 26, 2010

Job offers: If it sounds too good to be true...

I moved to Silicon Valley many years ago, when I was young and stupid (as opposed to being old and even more stupid today.) After I'd worked in the Valley for a few years as a product manager, I was recruited by a good-sized technology company, and was offered a supervisory position and a big raise. The company I was working for had already told me that I had to relocate to a suburb of Boston in order to keep working there, and I wanted to stay in the Valley, so I resigned and took the job offer.

Almost as soon as I started my new job, I realized that I'd made a mistake. Within two weeks, I was told that the company didn't have the budget to allow me to hire anyone, so there would be no one to manage. The VP of Sales was supplying cocaine to his salespeople in order to keep them finding and closing deals; I spent time on the phone with screaming, coked-up salespeople almost every day, The CEO was famous for his insane temper tantrums if a visitor accidentally parked in his parking space. Shortly after I came on board, the company hired a VP of Marketing from an old-line technology company. This VP was more interested in the size and location of his office than he was in getting things done, and I learned after I left the company that he had actually had very little to do with the project that helped him land the job at my company, a project that he bragged about constantly.

I soon found out that the reason that I was offered a big promotion and raise is that the company had a reputation as an almost impossible place to work. I would have found that out if I had asked the right questions (like "What's your employee turnover rate?). I stayed in that job for six months because the recruiter told me that he'd only get his fee if I stayed that long.

The lesson here is pretty simple: If a new job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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