Strategies for Researching Companies

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image source: www​.eiu​.edu

This guest post was written by Heather Fink, a Career Devel­op­ment intern and a grad­uate stu­dent in the Col­lege Stu­dent Devel­op­ment and Coun­seling pro­gram here at Northeastern. 

Con­duct research to fill a need at a com­pany, not just an open position!

Everyone knows that in this economy the job market is com­pet­i­tive. To stand out from other appli­cants, you should aim to fill a need at the com­pany rather than just an open posi­tion. Con­ducting research allows you to present skills in your résumé and cover letter that meet the unique needs of the com­pany. Research also allows you to tailor your answers in the inter­view to how your past expe­ri­ence relates to projects they are cur­rently working on. The only way to figure out the needs of the com­pany and what value you add is to con­duct research!

The Com­pany Website

Start your research with the company’s web­site. Usu­ally there is an “About Us” sec­tion or a “News and Press” sec­tion pro­viding infor­ma­tion about recent accom­plish­ments in the com­pany. This sec­tion should also include a mis­sion state­ment about the company’s goals that will help you under­stand the cul­ture. This will also tell you about recent and future direc­tions for the com­pany.  You should also pay atten­tion to the staff links such as “our team” or “our staff.” Once seeing a list of cur­rent staff, you can search for those employee’s on LinkedIn.

taken from Shaumt’s website.  http://www.shawmut.com/our_work/index.cfm

taken from Shawmut’s web­site. http://​www​.shawmut​.com/​o​u​r​_​w​o​r​k​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​cfm

LinkedIn Logo

Start by looking at pro­files of cur­rent employees, espe­cially someone with the same job title you are applying for. This will give you a sense of what the job will be like as well as skills desired by the employer.

When con­ducting your research you should also be assessing whether or not you would be a good fit at the com­pany. LinkedIn can be used to see how long past employees have stayed, if there is a high turnover rate, there may be low employee sat­is­fac­tion or budget issues. Fur­ther­more, your super­visor can greatly impact your job sat­is­fac­tion at a com­pany. If you know the name of your poten­tial super­visor, read their LinkedIn pro­file to learn about their past expe­ri­ence and rec­om­men­da­tions prior col­leagues have written about them.

google logoGoogle is a great tool to find infor­ma­tion about a com­pany. Googling the com­pany name will likely present results about recent arti­cles pub­lished, infor­ma­tion about new prod­ucts, recent advance­ments, pre­sen­ta­tions, trade shows and con­fer­ences. Uti­lizing the “News” tab will pro­vide you with infor­ma­tion about press releases from the com­pany, finan­cial ana­lyst reports as well as other information.

Don’t forget you can com­bine research strate­gies; you can use Google to find people on LinkedIn!  If you Google the com­pany name and the title of the posi­tion you are applying for, you may find the prior employee that worked at the com­pany and read their pro­file to see what types of tasks were requested of her/​ him.

Lastly, Google can be used to research a company’s com­peti­tors. If you type in the com­pany name and then “com­pe­ti­tion” results may yield web­sites that pro­vide a list of com­peti­tors. Search results from www​.finance​.yahoo​.com, wik​in​vest​.com,  www​.hoover​.com, and www​.cor​po​rate​watch​.com are all rep­utable web­sites for this information.

glassdoor logoGlass­door is another web­site that job hunters often forget to uti­lize. The web­site can pro­vide you with infor­ma­tion about the com­pany cul­ture and poten­tial inter­view ques­tions. Smaller com­pa­nies may not have as much infor­ma­tion on this site as larger more well-​​known com­pa­nies, but it can still be a great resource. The site includes infor­ma­tion about the size of the com­pany, the year it was founded, the industry, awards, infor­ma­tion including recent news about the com­pany, salary infor­ma­tion, reviews about the com­pany from prior/​ cur­rent employees and even poten­tial inter­view ques­tions! Get access to this site via the Career Devel­op­ment web­site, but choosing Online Resources and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Now What?

What does the infor­ma­tion you found tell you about the com­pany? If there has been a lot of turnover in staff is that due to growth in the com­pany or dis­sat­is­fac­tion of their employees? How does this com­pany com­pare to their com­peti­tors? What are the chal­lenges the com­pany faces and how can you add value to decrease these chal­lenges? Remember if you want to be a com­pet­i­tive job appli­cant it isn’t enough to just fill the spot, market your­self by sharing how you will add value beyond the average appli­cant. Demon­strating your under­standing of the company’s needs shows your com­mit­ment to add value.

Heather Fink is a former Career Assis­tant at North­eastern Career Devel­op­ment with a pas­sion for net­working and empow­ering others.  She has worked at North­eastern Career Devel­op­ment for two years and has pre­sented over 50 work­shops. Cur­rently she is pur­suing her grad­uate degree in Col­lege Stu­dent Devel­op­ment Coun­seling. Follow Heather on Linkedin at www​.linkedin​.com/​i​n​/​H​e​a​t​h​e​r​F​ink and Twitter @CareerCoachHF.