Evaluating Job Security During Your Job Search
When you apply for a new job, the last thing you want is for it to become your previous job again just a few months or a year later. That's very common now. Job security is at an all-time low with the recession going on, and many people have a hard time finding steady gigs. Not only that, but the entire concept of a "career" is virtually unknown to many of today's graduates. Careers require job security and opportunities for advancement. It's tough to find one of those, much less both now. When you're applying for jobs, if there's an offer you're seriously considering taking, you should do your research to try and figure out how long the position might last.
First, look up the company's latest financial statements and any relevant articles. How are their accounts receivables and assets compared to their accounts payable and their debits? Are they growing and expanding? Or do they look like they're about to go under? Quarterly reports are a great resource if you know how to read them. Note that new companies are always a toss-up; they may be growing, but you won't have much of a track record (good or bad) to examine, and most new businesses fail. Then again, others go on to become big businesses, and the initial team can make boatloads of money.
Consider the product or service the company offers from the point of view of a typical consumer. Ask yourself whether it has promise over the long run or whether it has defects that are likely to lead to consumers abandoning the product for another at some point. This is an especially important point to consider if the company only sells a single product or service. A related question to is to ask yourself how the company's products relate to current trends, and whether it is well positioned to excel based off of what's currently on the public mind.
Ask around if you can; if you have any access to current or past employees or others connected to the company, casually ask about the company's health. Sometimes you may pick up information this way which helps you to make a decision. You can also ask questions during your job interview, although you should make them as neutral and indirect as possible, and it is usually best to try to relate them to your own position.
For example, you might ask whether your position is newly created or whether it has long been a part of the company. You also could ask whether the product you're working with is a recent innovation or an established product. You might also ask why the previous occupant left the post, and whether turnover is high. These questions can all give you insight as to the nature of the job and the security around it. There are no guarantees, but you certainly can save yourself a lot of time, money and stress by doing your research before you say "yes" to the wrong offer.