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Question / Back Story

I have been going back and forth with a prospective employer for about 6 months now. Initially, I found this company because I was looking for a new job. Initially I accepted an offer from them but I ended up reneging on the deal. My current employer made an aggressive counter-offer and agreed to address my concerns that led to my decision to leave in the first place.

About once a month since that then I've gotten a personal email from the hiring manager asking me how things are going at my job and offers me more money to make the job change. Each time I have politely replied that I'm doing well and would not like to change.

I've given it several months at my current job and the things I was promised never changed -- so I find myself back on the market. I received another offer from this company today and it's very tempting.

It seems borderline desperate for a hiring manager to continuously try to hire someone like this and it brings up a concern that they're desperate for people -- perhaps to finish up that big project and give me the old farewell?

Could it be that I'm just a desirable person to hire and they've recognized that or is my hunch likely correct and I'm setting myself up to be unemployed in 6 months? Any tell-tale signs of this type of issue?

Additional Details

I'd like to stay anonymous, but in terms of the company itself they're very new (about 5 years in business), seem to be growing at a healthy rate, the employee reviews are fair (no red flags), and many employees have years of tenure. (Source: Glassdoor)

  • 1
    As Justin says "one email a month is nothing". As Joe says "it's impossible to know". If someone is "desperate" to hire you for a salary position -- ask for more money. It's that simple. – Fattie Apr 16 '14 at 8:04
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One email a month, as an objective observer, doesn't sound like desperation, it sounds like networking. Think of it this way, companies can easily invest thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars filling a single role. They've spent the money to find you, they've spent the money to interview you, they just lost out. Why wouldn't it be worth a few minutes of the hiring manager's time every month to do a bit of networking in case you find yourself on the market again in the near future? All the more so when the hiring manager knows that you took the counter-offer from your current company since those arrangements frequently don't work out in the long term.

Desperate companies do not, as a rule, badger specific applicants to join them. Desperate companies are generally in a position of basically accepting any warm body off the street that is within a stone's throw of competent. Unless the company is offering grossly below-market wages or there is some other aspect of the job that is going to be tremendously off-putting to potential applicants, it seems unlikely that the company would have any shortage of at least marginally qualified applicants. The fact that they're not taking those applicants and are focusing on you (or, more likely, a small number of high-quality applicants) seems to imply that they aren't desperate.

Now, there are a few specialty skills where it might make sense to let a good employee go after a particular project simply because there are unlikely to be related projects where that skill is called for. For example, there are certain telecom specialties where it may make sense to bring in an expert for a few months to set up your call tree and all the call center infrastructure but then not have 40 hours a week of maintenance work. Similarly, folks that specialize in configuring large ERP systems often find, once the initial implementation is in place, that companies don't have 40 hours of interesting work to do maintaining and enhancing those systems. If your specialty is something like this, it's perfectly reasonable to ask the company about what they envision you doing after the project goes live. If you are in that sort of specialty, I'd strongly expect the company to ask a question along those lines to see whether you've thought through the implications of staying on potentially doing less interesting maintenance work. For the vast majority of skill sets, though, once one project finishes, there are always more projects in the pipeline to tackle.

  • 2
    You have made a point that I had not considered. Thank you. – Banana-Man Apr 15 '14 at 23:13
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As mentioned in the comments, either guesses are possible.

You could:

  • If you're feeling up to it, try to get hold of their financial statements - if they're a public company (which may not be true), these should be publicly available (I may have the exact terminology wrong, but the idea is there).

  • Try to get some inside knowledge by getting in contact (/ making friends) with one of the (non-management) employees (doing so on short notice may be a bit difficult, and doing so on longer notice certainly isn't for everyone either). If it's not as obvious as people / upper management leaving in the masses, it may be things like withheld salaries, lack of bonuses, small / no raises or cancelled perks.

  • Look in the news for anything involving the company for any possible red flags.

  • If you're feeling brave make a little joke like "Wow, you guys seem really interested in me. I hope I'm not jumping on a sinking ship." (perhaps not phrased as such - I'm personally not the one to do this) and check for any reactions (preferably in person, or at least over the phone (not e-mail), but if you didn't know that, this approach probably isn't for you).

    Similarly, you could try asking why they're so interested in you, possibly adding something along the lines of "Am I that good?" or "I'm not that good, am I?" (said jokingly), although that may not come across particularly good for many people.

  • Look for job adverts by this company. While it may not be clear whether it's "We're desperate" or "We're just looking for some more employees", I'd say too many ads might be a bad sign, perhaps especially if it's for upper-management positions. There may also be indicators inside the ads themselves, indicative of long hours or tight deadlines, but this, in itself, doesn't mean the company is in any sort of trouble (although if these indicators start showing up when they weren't there before, it might be). The jobs may also look for people (possibly on a contract basis) to optimize their business / other processes (not sure of the exact titles) (again, not a bad sign in itself), which may also newly have started showing up (which again, could be a bad sign).

The sad fact is that I think you're unlikely to find any obvious red flags - you'll likely just have to either risk it, or stick around in the job you appear to not be particularly happy with.

You should decide whether personal factors allow you to take this risk, how big you actually think this risk is, and whether you're in enough demand that finding another job won't be too difficult.

0

You need to investigate exactly why the new employers hiring manager keeps contacting you. Take another interview and prepare yourself, so you can get a clear and complete picture of what has made him/her keep contacting you.

Maybe the explanation makes perfect sense. Maybe it doesn't. By asking questions that aren't too direct, but still showing that you are curious, you're likely to get some light shed on the matter.

If you're really well prepared, you can settle this in just one go by carefully considering the answers you get, and enquiring further until you're satisfied. It doesn't have to sound like a cross examination of the hiring manager. Just show that you are curious.

  • I like this idea. – Banana-Man Apr 15 '14 at 22:49

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