Leadership

3 things you can do to see if you and your boss are compatible (before you even start a new job)

Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford
Greg Gayne | Getty Images
Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford

Having a terrible boss forces many people to quit their jobs. In fact, about half of U.S. workers leave their jobs to "get away from their manager to improve their overall life," a Gallup poll shows.

One way to avoid this situation is to actually seek out the boss or manager you hope to have at work.

"A good boss can make the job. You may want someone you can learn from who you actively feel partnered with, or maybe you're looking for someone you can laugh with at company events," Dev Aujla, CEO of recruiting firm Catalog, writes in his new book "50 Ways to Get a Job: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Work on Your Terms."

Here are three things you can do to see if you and your potential boss are a good match before even starting a new job.

Get the scoop from past employees

To get a better understanding of the company you're interviewing for, Aujla recommends finding a few people who used to work there that have since moved on and reach out to them about the possible manager.

Either through email or LinkedIn, tell those former employees something along the lines of, "I am doing some referencing and saw that you worked at [this company] during [whatever years] and was wondering if you would have ten minutes to talk with me about [your future boss's name.]"

"Be open and tell this person that you are considering working with his or her previous employer and ask what the team there is like to work with, what motivates the company and what the internal dynamics within the company are," Aujla writes.

If it seems appropriate, Aujla recommends asking the person why he or she left the company.

Talk to the future boss's boss

Your first step in getting a feel for what a future boss is like is to "aim higher than you expect."

Aujla's rule of thumb: If the company you're applying to is made up of less than 60 employees, reach out to the CEO or the department you would like to work in. If the company is bigger than that, find your future boss and talk to the person who is directly above him or her.

"It is better to be passed down than to be passed over," Aujla writes.

Email your potential boss

Given you likely don't know your potential boss, you'll have to send them a cold email.

Aujla recommends that you first "follow their online trail" by reading any publications, articles or projects they share on their personal websites.

Although sending a cold email is a gamble, doing your research will prepare you to know their background and allow them to engage with you when you reach out.

Only after completing your research should you reach out to your potential boss, Aujla notes.

This email should demonstrate how you've not only done your research, but you also have what it takes to succeed at that company.

Aujla recommends making this a unique, roughly four-paragraph email that covers the following bases: demonstrate your skill, prove how your mission aligns with the company, tell them what you want to accomplish at the company and finally ask for the opportunity to talk.

"The employer won't do the work to understand your story, but you can," Aujla writes, "and the employer will not only notice but hire you because of it."

Notably, according to a 2015 LinkedIn report, much of our job searches take place online: 60 percent of people are using online job boards like Glassdoor and Indeed and 56 percent are using social professional networks like LinkedIn, but Aujla notes that "judging and finding the right personality in a boss is impossible to do online."

"It will happen in conversations as you walk your path, while you're learning and asking questions," he writes, making it "hard to know if your future boss is a personality fit until you meet him or her."

When you get the opportunity to meet your potential boss in person, keep in mind that these "meetings are not just one-sided transactions," Aujla writes.

"A major part of a boss's job is hiring and developing a pool of great talent," Aujla adds, "the boss needs to meet you too."

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