Author Topic: New Job with red flags... advice please  (Read 6116 times)

throwawaydallas

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New Job with red flags... advice please
« on: January 05, 2016, 04:07:29 PM »
I'm a talented IT guy with ten years of experience in a wide variety of roles, and a degree in International Business.  I've been offered a position that seems too good to be true.  How do I investigate the offer and make sure I'm on solid ground? 

The CEO of the new company is someone I've known for a long time, but have no particular reason to trust.  He does trust me, especially from an ethics standpoint which has been a major pain point for the organization recently.

I've managed IT for a 150 person consultancy for 7 years.  The IT staff consisted of only one other full time employee, and a full time co-op.  The new position is Director of IT for a 400 person attorneys office with 20 full time IT staff.  This is in line with my talents and career goals, but I am aware that I'm unproven in managing such a large office.

Pros:
We want to move out of Ohio to a warmer climate, the new position is in Dallas.
We wouldn't mind a bigger 'stache.  The new job at ~110k is 45% more than I make currently, and we're comfortable on half of what I make now!
The new job has much better benefits, including relocation, car stipend, free rent in a company-owned house, and spousal education credits.
Job hours are flexible, and include at least two days a week working from home.  I'm not on the clock for any particular amount of time, I just need to get the job done.

Red flags:
The CEO is my only point of contact.  He claims HR is actively trying to avoid hiring anyone for the position in hopes of scoring a nepotism placement.  They've claimed to emailed me paperwork on multiple occasions, but it has never arrived.  They sent him a doctored screenshot "proving" I was sent the information.  What kind of circus are they running??

The CEO is never in the office during business hours, he works the night shift doing international stuff.

Turnover rate for the IT department that I would head is currently over 40% annually.

Without a current director (the last being let go for ethics issues), the IT infrastructure is currently in shambles.  The email servers have been failing randomly, and the only offsite backups are at the CEO's home.

... The working from home and reduced hours might be quite a ways off while I sort out the mess.  I'll be expected to pull 50-60 hours 'as needed', and it will most likely be needed a lot until I can get things settled.

The company restructured less than 12 years, shedding its name and attempting to hide its past when one of the partners got convicted of severe security fraud.  Apparently the SEC is satisfied now, and no one else knows the history.  The rebranding was very successful, I couldn't find a hint of a trail from the old name to the new one.



I'm capable of the position, but my resume doesn't prove it.  My acquaintance seems to be taking an big gamble in selecting me for the role.  The general incompetence throughout the organization is a bit scary.

I could be looking at an offer and paperwork as early as this weekend.  What do I need to address to protect myself and my family from the chaos?  We really want to get out of Ohio, Dallas looks like a great place for us, and the new job as described would be both challenging and satisfying.

Open to any and all thoughts, including face punches for considering something 'too good to be true' could be for real.

Thanks!

Indio

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2016, 04:17:41 PM »
Nothing like an HR dept making their own deals. Talk to people who would report to you and get feedback. Make sure you negotiate a severance package that covers your relocation expenses in case you move back to OH and negotiate the one year or more  severance if fired within the first 2 years. If you make it expensive for them to get rid of you, HR may tow the line.

lbmustache

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 04:36:45 PM »
Hmm having worked for a company similar (restructuring, new name, iffy things in the past including some fraud, inept-seeming staff including the CEO, suspect HR, high turnover rate) who also "took a chance," on me - I would say to not take it. This is just my experience so YMMV.

I saw similar red flags, decided I was overreacting, and took the job. The company basically existed to fund the CEO's lavish lifestyle, and all of us were expected to pull crazy long hours. Tech issues abound (servers would go down often, no way to contact some people, people would ignore phone calls and emails), outdated software and practices (took 100x longer to do everything), and everyone would complain but there wasn't "enough in the budget," to fix everything. Yet there would be expensive dinners on the company's tab, etc. I was also salaried and no real "set hours," however my boss decided I needed to pull 8-9 hours every day, even though I could finish my work in 2-3, since the other 6 hours were spent waiting on others.

The company used to announce when people would leave, but after a few months it got so bad that they stopped, since emails were coming out every week. I honestly think a high turnover rate is the biggest red flag. Why is no one staying?

I ended up leaving after a little over a year. Good riddance. It was a learning experience so not all bad - and if you are in a position to think of it this way it might be worth it to take a chance - but long story short, pay attention to the red flags!!!

ender

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 04:47:31 PM »
Quote
Turnover rate for the IT department that I would head is currently over 40% annually.

You really want to work as department head in a group that nearly half of its employees quit every year????


Retire-Canada

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 05:00:43 PM »
How do I investigate the offer and make sure I'm on solid ground? 

If it was me I'd get on a plane a spend 4 days in Dallas. Say Thur - Sun.

That would give you enough time to chat with various folks in the company and get a feel for the personnel and infrastructure challenges.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 05:15:19 PM »
Find a different job that pays just as much. I thought IT was a goldmine, it sounds like you're underpaid where you are. Even the new job sounds low. Only 110k for head of IT with 20 staff? I make almost that much as an individual contributor in a non-glamorous industry. (Yes, I know, other perks. And I'm in NYC. But still.)

One possibility is take the job and immediately start looking for a better position in Dallas. I'd imagine it's easier to find something when you're already there.

katsiki

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2016, 06:12:10 PM »
RUN!!

Axecleaver

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 06:34:07 PM »
Dallas is an OK place to work, but you wouldn't want to live there. Nobody does. A 40% turnover rate is just what they're telling you, it's probably worse. It sounds like a total cluster f* to me. I like the suggestion to talk to some of the people you would be managing. You definitely want to know if they are manageable resources.

The only reason to take it is so you can put "managed 20 FTE's" on your resume. You'd be far better off applying for other stuff. If you do decide to take it, give yourself a date by which you give yourself permission to quit and do something more reasonable. Better plan is to apply at other places and take a role that is a bit more balanced.

deborah

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2016, 06:36:11 PM »
If the IT department is having as many difficulties as that, it could be that HR thought they sent you the paperwork via email, and it didn't happen. I'd also check that they have the correct email address - send them an email, asking them to reply with the paperwork, and then ring and ask if they received it.

Another possibility is that the paperwork is too big for a server somewhere, and so it gets knocked back.

I like the idea of going there to check it out.

MacGyverIt

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2016, 06:49:31 PM »
"Red flags:
The CEO is my only point of contact.  He claims HR is actively trying to avoid hiring anyone for the position in hopes of scoring a nepotism placement.  They've claimed to emailed me paperwork on multiple occasions, but it has never arrived.  They sent him a doctored screenshot "proving" I was sent the information.  What kind of circus are they running??"

If he's the CEO then why is he allowing the H.R. department to lied to him, the CEO, the boss, to score a nepotism placement?? Why hasn't he fired the lot of them and hired someone competent or contracted H.R. support?

This is a harsh indictment of his (lack of) engagement with his own company.

Jellyfish

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 06:54:54 PM »
I would tell your friend that you are interested in the job but feel you could only give him a response after visiting the office in person and meeting the IT department.  Check it out in person and see what you learn.  If he gives you a reason why this very normal and reasonable request can't happen, THAT's a red flag.  Otherwise, go and check it out and see what you think.

Uturn

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 07:25:13 PM »
If you really have the talent to run this dept, they are stealing you at $110k. 
The Dallas market has a lot of folks to choose from,  I don't see why they would need to pull from out of state unless no one local wants the position.
When you interview, do you go light on your weaknesses and heavy on your strengths?  Companies do the same thing.  What makes you think the 40% turnover isn't fudged a bit?
Have you ever worked with lawyers?  They are as difficult as doctors, and this office is full of them.  I don't have the patience, not sure if you do. 

However, if you negotiate a severance as suggested, this would be a good opportunity to get into a larger market and get the management experience. 

Jim2001

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 07:25:53 PM »
+1 for the in person interviews with the CEO, HR and some key IT staff.

JLee

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Tom Bri

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2016, 07:53:36 PM »
Key clue for me is that you don't particularly trust the guy whom you have known for quite a while. Why not? He is going to be your boss, and you know going in that there might be issues with him.
I assume you have checked, Googled at least, to see if this company's clients are complaining, or if there are former staff who have posted on Glassdoor about their experience there.
Sounds like it might be the place where when blame comes along, it could get funneled onto any available employee. Head of IT might make a good scapegoat.
Was the current CEO also the CEO during the scandal?

Adventine

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2016, 07:59:09 PM »
A CEO who freely admits he can't get his HR department to do something that should be a basic part of the hiring process? Run away from this company. Run far, far away.

throwawaydallas

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2016, 09:17:40 PM »
Thanks for all the responses.  I do have an in person interview coming up, and the 4 day site visit a week later as suggested.  I'm gathering names of staff I want to meet.

I've been stalking the company on social media and it is reinforcing the circus idea.  Some of the existing IT staff are blatently lying on linkedin about their job title and time with the company. 

The attourneys themselves seem pretty competent.

Why don't I trust my longtime aquaintance?  We've known each other for 20 years but only online.  I haven't had the opportunity to evaluate him in real life yet.  I don't distrust him, it is just too early to make the call.

His biggest concern is if I have the guts to lay people off. (I do)

How does the severance package work? (logistically)  I understand the concept, but I'm signing a contract with a law office.  How can I be sure it isn't full of lookholes?  Whose signature should I expect on a job offer... HR? One of the officers of the company?

Do I need to get my own legal counsel to interpret he job offer or is that just being paranoid?  (Can you tell this is my first major relocation in my career?)

@retire canada: why do you recommend a weekend visit?  What should I do while the office is closed and there isn't anyone to talk to... house hunting?

To those advising I run... I'm at least going to go see the situation and the city.  If I decide to run afterwards, I'll do so with a good idea of whether or not I want to pursue other jobs in this area.

ender

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2016, 06:01:22 AM »
Can you explain why you want to go to this company? I'm missing something. You list a whole list of great reasons to not take the job, is money? You make 75k as an IT manager? 

Don't run away from something. Run to something.

.... that something should be a lot better than your first inter-country move to take on a complete fiasco waiting to happen which is in progress and if what you said here is the full craziness is still completely crazy. Somehow, I doubt that this post contains all the WTFness that's going on..

throwawaydallas

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2016, 08:07:56 AM »
Can you explain why you want to go to this company? I'm missing something. You list a whole list of great reasons to not take the job, is money? You make 75k as an IT manager? 

It isn't all about money, although the raise is significant.  I'm a little tired of dealing directly with technical problems.  Technical problems are predictable, easy, and time consuming.  Having a large pool of talent to handle the day to day stuff would be nice.  More importantly, the 'human' problem at the new job is intriguing.

I wouldn't be devastated if I fail, and should be able to quickly find another job in the new area.

I don't need to run from my current position.  I've spent a solid 7 years here and although there is no future here for me, the status quo isn't very painful.  I do want to be living in a warmer climate before NEXT winter at the latest, for DW medical purposes.

AZDude

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2016, 08:14:49 AM »
I've worked for some fiasco laden companies, but was never running things, thankfully.  The trick for you is going to be your personality. You say you have the guts to fire someone. Sounds good, but have you ever done it? Not as easy as you think, especially if they are incompetent but likable.

You will be running the IT department, but if HR is not on board with you, things will get messy. As someone who has had frequent run-ins with HR in my career, good luck.

Easye418

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2016, 09:13:29 AM »
Dallas is an OK place to work, but you wouldn't want to live there. Nobody does.

Care to elaborate on this? 

Typically, I agree with your posts but I find this hard to believe.  I live in Dallas and I assure you, we need less people moving here.  Well, after I sell my home that is ;). 

After 24 years of Chicago, I moved to Dallas and it was a fantastic move for my family and my career.  I have managed to increase my salary 50%+ since moving.  Highly subjective opinion.

To OP, if you work downtown Dallas, either prepare for a 60 min+ commute and a decent mortgage or a short commute and $500k+ mortgage.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 09:15:38 AM by Easye418 »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2016, 09:56:52 AM »
Dallas is an OK place to work, but you wouldn't want to live there. Nobody does. A 40% turnover rate is just what they're telling you, it's probably worse. It sounds like a total cluster f* to me. I like the suggestion to talk to some of the people you would be managing. You definitely want to know if they are manageable resources.

The only reason to take it is so you can put "managed 20 FTE's" on your resume. You'd be far better off applying for other stuff. If you do decide to take it, give yourself a date by which you give yourself permission to quit and do something more reasonable. Better plan is to apply at other places and take a role that is a bit more balanced.

Huh?

DFW grew by more people than New York did (in terms of metropolitan area) from 2010 to 2014.

Retire-Canada

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2016, 11:52:21 AM »

@retire canada: why do you recommend a weekend visit?  What should I do while the office is closed and there isn't anyone to talk to... house hunting?

It's not a firm suggestion, but 4 days over the weekend means 2 days away from your paying job. You get 2 days with normal people onsite to talk to and 2 days where you can examine infrastructure/records that you don't need the normal workforce present for plus you can take care of anything personal in town like looking at neighbourhoods.


bacchi

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2016, 12:25:56 PM »
Dallas is an OK place to work, but you wouldn't want to live there. Nobody does.

Care to elaborate on this? 

Typically, I agree with your posts but I find this hard to believe.  I live in Dallas and I assure you, we need less people moving here.  Well, after I sell my home that is ;). 

People may move somewhere for a job but that doesn't mean that they like it there. Look at Houston.

Well Respected Man

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Re: New Job with red flags... advice please
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2016, 12:50:45 PM »
Dallas is an OK place to work, but you wouldn't want to live there. Nobody does.

To OP, if you work downtown Dallas, either prepare for a 60 min+ commute and a decent mortgage or a short commute and $500k+ mortgage.
Sounds terrible, like Silicon Valley.