Would you accept the offer of a new job if you knew that three members of the team you were joining had all left their posts within six months? Or if you were aware that bullying was rife? What if you knew that your team was marked for redundancy if profits fall?
In less uncertain economic times you may have taken a risk, knowing another opportunity would be just around the corner if this one failed. But now, with new jobs few and far between, this would be pretty unwise. Which is why the time is ripe for the Government to bring a new element of compulsion into the employment process and introduce the JIP, or Job Information Pack.
The JIP would be a dossier given to all candidates shortlisted for a job and similar to the Home Information Packs (HIPs) that homeowners are compelled to produce when selling a property. HIPs contain information on energy performance, searches, evidence of title and other key documents that help potential purchasers decide whether to proceed with the transaction.
JIPs would be similar, containing statistics on how long each employee has stayed in an organisation before leaving, their reasons for leaving, and how likely the job is to be axed in future credit crunches or reorganisations in easy to understand terms such as "if profits go down by 10 per cent your team is likely to be retained. If profits go down by 20 per cent your team is likely to cease to exist."
I am sure that this would be helpful because I have lost count of the number of people I know who have left a job, either of their own free will or by "mutual agreement", only to find out later that they were just the most recent in a long list of casualties, like the person I know who left a job after a particularly miserable time only for lots of former employees to then come out of the woodwork to commiserate and say the same had happened to them – and what's more, that the team had undergone training before he had started for being a dysfunctional team. If he had known this beforehand he could have accepted the other job offer he had at the same time instead.
This extra knowledge wouldn't always work of course. I once left a job after six months because the job was truly awful. One friend had spent quite a lot of time helping me with my application, filling me in on who was who in the sector and what issues I needed to consider for my interview.
He was very helpful but when, shortly after beginning, I realised that the team was miserable and the boss out of his depth, I asked the friend why he didn't warn me. "You wouldn't have listened even if I had," he said. This is probably true – we have an amazing capacity to only listen to the facts that support what we want to believe.
Careers advisers, or their more modern but equally ineffective equivalent, the "life coaches", frequently tell people that interviews are as much a chance for you to interview your potential employer as for them to interview you. Perhaps, but no one wants to be labelled a trouble-maker at interview.
If, however, we were armed with a JIP, and knew that all the other shortlisted candidates were too, we would be much more likely to push for explanations and understand the risks we are taking. Then the legacy of this credit crunch would not just be misery for employees, but power too.