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A JOB may seem great at the start, but unless an employee is compatible with a corporate culture, chances are he or she won't be happy in the long run.

Personnel Decisions International, a human resources consulting firm, says applicants should try to find out how comfortable they'd be in a company before they take a job. The firm suggests applicants do a little detective work -- for example, when going on an interview, by listening for laughter in the hallways, or seeing how people interact with one another.

The firm also suggests prospective employees call a customer service line and see how customers are treated. Another idea is to talk to vendors, contractors and former employees, who might be in a position to talk candidly about what it's like doing business with the firm.


YOUNG PEOPLE who are thinking of starting their own businesses should just go out and do it, advises Professor Barrett Hazeltine, a professor emeritus of engineering at Brown University.

Hazeltine, interviewed in Fast Company magazine, says the best time to begin a new company is when you're still young. "You don't have a spouse. You don't have a mortgage. Failure at 40 can be a huge blow; but at 25, you go to the beach for a few days, and it's all better."

He also advises the inexperienced not to worry about the brevity of their resumes. "If you're starting an Internet company, there just isn't a common set of principles that you'll need to spend years learning. . . . Experience doesn't have much advantage anymore."

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