Choose the good boss when making a job decision

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Evaluating Your Potential Boss During Career Changes

I came across great career advice the other day, backed up by research. I have unfortunately misplaced the source. The advice was as follows:


When you are choosing whether to align yourself with a job opportunity or not (new job, promotion, project), and in particular when you have some choice, pay careful attention to your prospective boss. And when trying to choose between two similar roles, you are far better off going with the person who your best judgment suggests would be the better boss. Even at the expense of a bit of a cash differential.

How do you know if the person is a “good boss?”

I gave a bit of thought to this and present the following advice:

  1. Use LinkedIn, or ask them directly, to find out something about their career history. Does this person have a career trajectory that suggests they are effective and successful?

  2. Looking again at LinkedIn. Does he/she have a healthy amount of recommendations in a 360-sense….boss, peers and subordinates. Recommendations from subordinates that support this person’s interest in developing his/her people while not absolute proof, can certainly be very valuable evidence.

  3. Has your prospective boss worked for a fantastic boss? Like attracts like.

  4. How much leadership experience does your prospective boss have? While little experience is certainly a flag, it need not be a deal killer, all things considered.

  5. What do the company / organization names say about this person’s brand? If you see employment brands that shout well-managed, strong people cultures, that is a good sign (making assumptions about their hiring thoroughness and criteria for someone to stay and thrive in that world)

  6. If you have relationships in the market, use old-fashioned (and discreet) asks among contacts to get a sense of the person’s abilities, style and character. Again, LinkedIn might point you to shared connections.

  7. What do you need to learn in the next stage of your professional development and what can you learn from this person?

  8. Trust your gut - in particular the squeemish, nervous, spider-sense side of you. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away.

Any additional ideas from your experience?

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