Ask the Tough Questions Before You Commit to a New Employer

Ask the Tough Questions Before You Commit to a New Employer
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As a transitioning servicemember, a veteran seeking career advancement, or a military spouse relocating or planning to reenter the workforce, you must recognize every organization is undergoing its own transition. Each company navigates potential changes in leadership, a competitive landscape, regulatory requirements, and the wider macroeconomic environment. 


These companies all fall on different parts of the business life cycle. A piece offered a broad-strokes breakdown of that cycle: 


Startup. In this early stage, a company may not have many established processes, adjusting its business model and looking to turn a profit to stay afloat. Although, it can be an exciting time, according to statistics published in 2019 by the Small Business Administration (SBA), about 20% of business startups fail in the first year.


Growth. As a business looks to solidify its position in the marketplace, it should reap the benefits of maturing client relationships and lower employee turnover. Optimally, a company should not be living from payroll to payroll. But there’s no guarantee of success – about half of the business at this stage fail within five years.


Maturity. At this point, an ideal business is growing about 5% annually and its original employees are reaching 8 to 10 years of tenure. A professional management team should be firmly in place. Although a mature business may still experience some challenges (by Year 10, only about 33% survive), these companies are relatively dependable and consistent. Operations should be running relatively smoothly, with revenue steady and predictable.  


Renewal/Decline. A business in decline may not know it, failing to act despite signs of trouble. Although critical to continued success, some businesses don’t innovate or invest in themselves until they are already on the downturn. A strong management team will identify a changing market and start renewal efforts early.


[RELATED: Maximize Your Job Search With the MOAA Job Board, Powered by Indeed]


Every business falls somewhere on this spectrum. Why do you need to understand these cycles? Because researching potential employers is vital to an effective job search to ensure the company is the right fit for you. 


Remember, you should interview them as much as they are interviewing you! Get some tips from Indeed’s complete guide to researching a company.


When you identify the phase of your target employer, ask the tough questions about survivability. Just as companies want an employee they can retain, you need to ensure a potential employer has the staying power to support your long-term professional goals and career aspirations.


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About the Author

Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)
Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)

Anderson joined the staff of MOAA's Career Transition Services Department in August 2011. He served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force in a wide range of command and staff assignments. Connect with him on LinkedIn.