Knowledge is most definitely power when it comes to researching the right company. Many major companies spend time, money and resources researching customers, clients and competitors. Likewise, the amount of knowledge you have about a potential employer and your chosen industry can give you a competitive edge.
Some candidates are so focused on selling themselves, and nailing the interview that they neglect checking out the company they may end up working for.
Accepting a job with a company you don’t fully know can have dire consequences. Who wants to join a company only to find weeks later that it has poor morale, is run like a military boot camp, or, worse, on the brink of bankruptcy?
Adequate research should be done when making the first contact with employers, before going to the interview and before accepting an offer of employment.
Before Making First Contact
When you begin to make initial contact with potential employers, through a CV or a cover letter, it is a great idea to have some basic facts about the company first. This will help you tailor the right message to the right audience.
Before The Interview
Before an interview is the time to do extensive research. Being armed with information can give you an edge over your competition, as you will be able to answer questions about the employer should you be asked any in the interview. It is not unusual to be asked the questions, "What do you know about us? & what did you do to prepare for today?"
It will also enable you to ask intelligent questions when you are given the opportunity, which is common practice towards the end of the interview.
Just as researching clients gives companies the ability to individually target sales presentations, knowing your potential employer will help you target your "presentation" to them.
Directories are one way of locating information on both privately and publicly held companies.
Corporate Web Sites
Corporate Web Sites have masses of information. You can use a search engine to search for a company's Web site. Be sure to look at sections such as About Us, Our Vision, History etc.
When researching privately and publicly held companies, both large and small, the media is a great place to get lots of information. If companies don't report the information themselves, through press releases, reporters will get the information. This is valuable when looking for something that the company may not necessarily want the public to know.
Local newspapers usually publish articles about companies in their Town or City. This is often the only place you will find information on small, local companies. You will also find information about employees at those companies. Should someone win an award or special recognition, this is where you would find it.
You are probably wondering how this bit of trivia could be useful to you. Well, imagine this scenario:
You learn you are going to be interviewed by Sally Speedy. You do a little research and find out that she just won a 10 mile race. It just so happens that you're a runner as well. Isn't this a great way to establish rapport?
Information on local companies as well as companies with a wider geographic scope.
A good way of tracking who has moved where, which companies have what clients, and which companies are relocating to your area.
Announcements of openings of new businesses.
Information on companies within different industries.
A great way to become more knowledgeable about the industry in general.
Shows trends and upcoming changes to help you determine how you can best make an impact. Remember, you are trying to show potential employers what you can do for them.
These keep you advised of the goings on in your field.
In addition to providing company information, professional journals give insight into changes in a particular field.
These publications also contain advice about how to do your job better. For example, being able to discuss new automated stock ordering with the Logistics Manager of a major retailer will show your level of expertise and interest in the field.
If you have a connection that will help you find inside information, use it. Do you know someone who works there? Ask them if they can help. Keep in mind that employees who are no longer with a company may not always have a positive attitude towards them, so it’s best to gather a few opinions and not just depend on one person’s view.
If the business you are looking to join is customer-facing, for example, a retail business, visit them and conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). There is no better way to get an impression of what it would be like to work for a company than to actually go and see it for yourself. Take a look at our SWOT Analysis template for advice on what to look for.
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