Researching a company is an important step that many people overlook when applying for a job, preparing for an interview or contemplating a job offer. When you’re in any of these situations, it’s easy to ignore the vital step of researching company, but there are some big opportunities you’ll miss if you don’t dig a little deeper. As the old saying goes ‘if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.’ Never is this truer than during a job search. Arming yourself with the right information is vital and could make all the difference.
To learn how to research a company effectively, follow the top tips listed below:
1. Google the company
The obvious step that you are probably (hopefully) following religiously is, of course, a Google search. You can find heaps of information from Googling the company name; from their website to news reports and reviews. This should be the first step to take when you are looking for a job.
2. Check out the company site
It’s vital to thoroughly examine all the information on a potential employer’s site. Many job seekers make the mistake of quickly scanning it and miss out information that could have helped them during their interview. Be sure to read their biography, portfolio, products, collaborations and any other sections full of information on the site.
3. Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an exceptional tool for learning about the company. You can find out what kind of news the company communicates by checking the company page. It’s also a good way to find out more information on a company you're interested in through personal profiles. You'll be able to see your connections at the company, new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies, and company statistics. Try to do the personal search in an incognito mode (it might come off a bit creepy if your interviewer can see you’ve been stalking them on social media).
4. Do a social media search
Companies spend a large amount of time and investment building a strong online presence and personal brand. Therefore, it’s essential that you check out all their social media accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat). It’ll help you understand the company’s current focus and direction. You’ll also find information that isn’t shared on their website or on other sources. Once you’ve checked out the official accounts, you can move on to employers and look for customer reviews too.
5. Read relevant blog and news articles
Read publications, newsletters or blogs for in-depth information and analysis on the company and its position, as well as for snippets of news or gossip. Find out all you can about the main players, current threats or opportunities, which companies are doing well, and so on. According to the Guardian, “This knowledge will help you ask thoughtful questions at interviews and shows your interest in working in the sector.” You could find out that the company is opening a branch in another county that you would consider moving to, or that a recent product underperformed.
6. Check out press releases and annual reports
Annual Reports and financial statements are a great source of information about how well a public company is doing and any future plans they may have. They are found under the ‘investor information’ on a public company website. On the other hand, press releases are also a good way to find information prior to an interview; they give a glimpse into what the company is most proud of and an insight into how they want to be portrayed. It can also help you decide if you fit into their company culture before joining the organisation.
7. Follow industry news
Do you subscribe to the most relevant magazines or newsletters in your industry? Reading up on the happenings in your industry helps you sound smart in your interview. It shows that you have a real interest in the position you have applied for and are up-to-date with the relevant trends.
8. Check out the competition
A rooky mistake that many job seekers do before an interview is; not knowing who the competitors are. Be sure to research companies that directly compete with your target company. Get to know your target company’s competition and what they are doing. Wouldn’t it be impressive to a prospective employer if you were able to give them a heads up on what their competition was doing?
9. Get the inside scoop
You can now get the inside scoop from anonymous employees on Glassdoor and Indeed. These anonymous workplace communities help job seekers discover the inside details of a company that can’t be found on an employer’s website or LinkedIn page. You can find out what their company culture is like, employee benefits, the managerial structure and staff duties. It’s a good idea to check recent reviews before you accept your job offer.
10. Find a contact
Finding the correct contact is key in a job search; whether you are writing your cover letter, researching your interviewee or accepting a job offer, you must address the correct person. You will impress your potential employees if you go through the effort of hunting down the department head to address your cover letter to. If it’s for your interview, it will give you an advantage because you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and sparking a meaningful conversation.
11. Find out what their mission is
You can find out what their mission and company culture is by following their social media networks and company statements. Before you interview to join the company, you should be able to confidently say that you’re a good culture fit. “A Millennial Branding study says 43 percent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is the most important quality job seekers can have during the hiring process” reported on Glassdoor. Through your findings you could impress your interviewer by saying something like: “I understand the company is working on growing its presence in New York – can you tell me more about how this initiative is impacting the team?”
12. Tap into your connections
Now is the time to use your handy connections if you know someone who already works at the company. Be sure to ask them what the culture is like and if there is any information they can give you that can’t be found online. If you are a university graduate you can ask your Career’s centre for a list of alumni that work at your target company. You can then email them and ask for some advice and assistance.
If you use all the above steps you’ll be able to continue your search with confidence that you are as knowledgeable as possible and are entirely certain about the company and the vacancy that you are applying for. With all that added information you’ll be able to position yourself as the best candidate for the job. Now – go and smash it out of the park!
Do you have any additional tips on how to research a company and help out fellow job seekers? If so drop us a comment in the discussion box below…