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Just as it is important for you to know what you want in life, it is important for you to pick companies that know what they want to achieve. Companies that do not have strong vision for the future and have not demonstrated the same through their actions are bad bets. Research the following for the company you are considering:

 

Financials

Study the company’s financial statements for the last three years and observe a pattern. If you see increasing profits, revenue, market share, number of employees etc, you know that the company is on the right path. Companies with patchy financial records do not inspire confidence. Bad financials usually lead to bad working environments, budget cuts, layoffs, stagnant salaries etc. You do not want to be part of such an environment.

 

Industry structure

If the industry consists of only few large players, then you know that those players will control the market. Smaller companies in such concentrated industries tend to be gobbled by large players or they eventually die because they do not have the resources to compete with the large players. Pay attention to the size of the company and its ability to compete in the industry. Fragmented industries are comprised of lot of companies doing similar stuff and nobody is extraordinarily large to control the market. It may be fine to join a small company which is doing useful work in the fragmented industry and serves a niche in that market.

 

Executive leadership and focus on values

Considering the recent surge in white collar crimes, you want to make sure that the company has strong emphasis on the right values and the top leadership is committed to these values. You do not want to put your 100% for someone who will mortgage your future for their greed.

 

Location

People usually underestimate the importance of location in their lives. It is very important for you to consider where you want your kids to grow up? What opportunities will they get by living in one city Vs the other? What schools/colleges does the city have? What is the crime rate? What is the cost of living? What is the real estate market like in that city? It is also important to find out what other locations do the company has offices in and whether there would be opportunities for you to move to a different city if you choose to.

 

Employee Benefits

This is becoming increasingly important in today’s age of rising healthcare costs and single-income families. You should pay extra attention to review the company’s benefits to make sure it fits your needs and you will feel comfortable working there. Apart from healthcare, consider maternity/paternity benefits, company contributions to 401k, flexible working hours, vacation time, opportunities to move within the company to other locations/jobs. You will find this information on the company’s website.

 

You know that you will be spending much of your daily hours in this company and you want to make sure that the company you choose values your efforts and contribution.

 

The Wall Street Journal (www.WSJ.com) has an extensive database of all public companies and research articles to help you make an informed decision.

 

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