This cliche job search advice is always there; and seemingly always empty. Why? Because no one tells you exactly how to get that homework done… exactly how to research the company and what to look for.
Today, we fix that. Here is exactly how to research a potential employer, what you are looking for from which resource, and what to do with the research once you have it…
1. Employer’s Website
Visit their website, and learn as much as possible from it. What they do? Where they are (local, national, or international)? Who leads the company? Who else works there? What are the products and/or services? How big is it (employees, sales, profits or losses)? What do they show as “news”? You won’t find all of those answers on the employer’s website, but hopefully you will find some of them.
First things first: check for a Company Profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn shows: number of employees, industry, headquarters location, your connections to anyone who works there, possibly job postings, and more.
Next, check the LinkedIn Profiles of the people who are interviewing you. Look for clues about them – their job titles, experience, education – anything else that will help you find a “common ground” with them in the job interview and help you understand their perspective and goals.
Finally, check the LinkedIn Profiles of company employees. Look for any commonalities with you – same degree in college, same home town, same military service, etc. See what LinkedIn Groups they belong to. If possible, join those Groups. You may pick up interesting information from those observations, and you may also be able to ask questions to elicit responses directly from employees of your target (or possible target) employers.
3. Google and Glassdoor
Put search engines and Glassdoor.com to good use!
If they sell products or services, search for reviews of those products or services.If you find the names of a parent organization, business partners, major customers, or contracts on their website or in news about them, search for information about those organizations, too.
Look for signs of prosperity or decline. New or pending contracts, product roll outs, and/or locations could mean new hires. A contract loss or closure of a location could mean the opposite. What’s in the news section of the website and in Google’s news search?
Finally, check out the reviews of the company on Glassdoor, as well as Indeed and perhaps Yelp. While those reviews aren’t always 100 percent objective, they will certainly provide some insight.
4. Yahoo Finance
If the employer is a publicly-traded company, Yahoo Finance is a treasure trove of information about the company. Most of it is aimed at investors, but that information is very helpful for job seekers as well. Profits going down – maybe a cutback (with layoffs) is pending? Sales skyrocketing – maybe a big increase in staff is pending?
Look at the stock performance. If the stock price is jumping much higher than competitors, the market is expecting some good news. But, be careful – good news to the stock market may not be good news for your job search. The news could be a hot new product or service being introduced, OR it could mean the company is being sold and investors expect to make a killing. See what the stock analysts think.
5. One-on-One Interviews
If possible, talk to current and former employees about the organization (LinkedIn Advanced Search) and what it’s like to work there. Which are the best departments/divisions, best locations, best products/services, etc. Who are the best managers? And, conversely, what are the worst departments/divisions, etc.
How long do people stay? Why do they leave? Where do they go when the leave?
Once you have gathered and analyzed the information, apply what you’ve learned to your job search:
- Focus your efforts on the most positive and successful employers.
- Develop good questions for the formal job interview process.
- Consider what accomplishments, skills, and experiences you have that would be of value to that employer, and how to package them for that culture.
- Discard the employers who appear shaky, have poor reviews, or don’t “feel” right to you. Or, go to the job interview to practice and improve your job interviewing skills.
Once you have collected the information, you will find more ways than I can describe to use that information for your job search. Use it in networking, cover letters, and other correspondence with the employers.
Most important, perhaps: stand out from your job search competition by mentioning relevant findings during your job interviews (yes, employers love that stuff)!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com; Susan has been editor and publisher since. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.
Image courtesy of intearview.com. Thank you!