There's lots of advice about seeking a new job and what to look for, how to look for it, when to look for it, and where. You hear a lot about how to investigate what an employer does (line of business), what their current situation is (market performance) and future prospects (news reports). That's all great advice to follow, but there's more. You also need to know the bad side. Just like when you visit a new city, most people will eventually want to know where the "bad parts" of town are, so they can avoid them (or if you're a thrillseeker: get there faster).
Maybe you're one of those people that likes to keep one eyeball pinned on the employment ads to see what's going on in their career sector. Maybe you just like to get a feel for how the employment situation is in a given geographic area. Whatever the case, if you are one of those people, you've probably seen a few repeat employer names pop up week after week, month after month.
Whenever you see a particular employer posting an unusually high number of positions, or the same position for weeks on end, check something else: the employer's growth aspects.
If the employer has not won any major (and I mean MAJOR) new contracts, isn't opening a new facility somewhere nearby, and isn't responding to cyclic or seasonal activity demand, start asking questions. In many cases it's a sign that the workplace suffers from high turnover. High turnover can be (and quite often is) a sign of a bad workplace environment, in which employees grow tired (or afraid) of it, and leave. One particular health services technology company in our area posts over a dozen job openings every week, most of which are the same job opening. Some of which have been reposted for over a year. After asking around I've learned that employer is renown for treating workers badly and thus are always having to back-fill vacated positions.
Then again, if you're OK with high turnover, no worries. Maybe all you are interested in is a fast buck. A quick means to a paycheck, or something to hold you over until make the next jump. That's fine. Everyone has their own agenda. But if you are looking for something more long term, what then?
Where do you start? You can start by asking trusted friends, co-workers, neighbors, and friendly folk at your nearest social establishments (pubs, restaurants, etc.). Just ask "what do you know about (name-of-employer)?" and "are they a good place to work for?". The range of responses will sometimes surprise you, and you may learn things you never expected.
As an interesting exercise, try this using your current employer's name. It's one of the oldest, easiest, cheapest, yet overlooked marketing research a business can do on their own.