Yesterday I mentioned in my email that I'd tell you how to figure out if a job was one that was a dud or not.

I also mentioned that I turned down a job offer after determining that it wasn't the right job for me.

I should have mentioned that the company I had an offer from laid off half their developers 2 months after I would have started there.

As the new guy, you can bet I'd have been let go first.

So, how did I know?

The first thing I did after getting the interview lined up, was start looking for former employees from that company.

You can do a lot of this work by going to local meetups if it's a company local to you.

I also found some of them online using LinkedIn and some Ruby mailing lists by digging through their backlogs for mentions of this particular company.

Then I reached out to the people I knew either to ask them directly why they had left or for introductions to former employees that they knew.

By the time I had the offer in hand, I had managed to talk to a few of the former employees to see what they had to say.

What I found was that most of the people who had left more than 6 months prior had left because they were seeking new challenges or were starting their own companies.

People who had left less than 6 months ago were having major issues with senior management.

I had also seen the company's overall participation in the community drop precipitously.

So, after thinking deeply about it, I decided that it probably wasn't a place I wanted to be.

Of course, now we have systems like that aggregate anonymous data about salary ranges, benefits, and overall experience with the company.

If that had existed a few years ago, I probably would never had applied at this company provided the people leaving had posted their experience.

Overall, in my experience, it's much easier to identify a company you want to work at before doing the interview than when you have an offer and a deadline looming over you.

So, next time you're out looking for a job, spend the time up front to find out who they are, what they're about, and what they need. 

Then tailor your application, resume, and cover letter to get you a job at the company you've identified as your dream job.

(If you need help with that, that beta offer for my getting a job course is still open. You can get in right here.)