Tell Me Why I Should Work For A Company That Failed


It is pretty tough to avoid companies who laid people off during the recession. Everybody did it, right?

Except the ones who didn’t.

And some companies who continue to downsize in 2013 are still hiring. Sorta. Labor that’s needed in one department may no longer be needed in another.

I am generally against working for a company that’s been through a downsizing in the last five years. I know, I know. But I think layoffs show a lack of workforce planning and inadequate business forecasting.

  • Yes, some things in life are unforeseeable. That’s the whole premise of the Maury Povich show. He’s not the baby’s daddy? No way!
  • But most issues related to business and labor are pretty clear.

A company should be better than the guests on Maury Povich. If you are surprised by a downturn in the economy and if you can’t see the risks and expenses related to your workforce, you are doing HR wrong.

And I love how some companies woke up in September 2008 and realized that expenses related to the general labor pool were unsustainable but the executive compensation philosophy was not.

Bah. I’m cynical.

If I were looking for a job and stumbled into an opportunity with a company that had layoffs during the past five years, I would think like an owner instead of an employee. After all, owners of companies have been telling us for years that past performance can help us to predict future behaviors. So I would ask: Who was laid off? Why? What forensic work has been done to make sure that kind of situation doesn’t happen again? Who was held accountable?

Then I would want to know if any modeling or forecasting has been done to predict the total annual impact for this role. Specifically, I would want to know how the job — and the person who fills this role — pays for itself. I would also ask questions about future career paths, opportunities to earn additional compensation and the freedom to be an internal entrepreneur. Even if you work in a lowly staff job, can you identify sales leads or additional lines of revenue for the company and then benefit from that new stream of income?

In short, tell me why I should work for a company that failed. Tell me what your organization learned from its mistakes. Tell me how it won’t happen again.

What other questions would you ask?

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