Guide to Company Research

 

It is as important to know the company well so you can tailor your talking points to show the hiring company how you match their needs and fit their culture. You also need research data to show you are astute and interested enough to learn everything you can about the company.  Lastly, research will facilitate a wise choice when you receive a job offer.

 

Why is Research Important?

The primary objectives of company research are to:

  • Determine if this is a company where you want to commit the next few years.

  • Match your knowledge and talents with the needs of a particular company.

  • Increase your interest and enthusiasm for the company.

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the company, interest in the company, and the value you would bring to this company.

 

Key Information to Uncover

Below is a checklist of items to research listed by phases in the job search process. Each candidate is different, so you may need to know information not listed below.  Don’t stop with this data.  Use it as a springboard to learn as much as you can about the company.  For example, as you search news about the industry and the company, it will likely lead you to more interesting information.

 

Uncover before you send your resume:

  • Company's industry

  • Services or products of company

  • Company’s primary market

  • Company leaders (CEO, CFO, President, etc.)

  • Manager responsible for hiring

 

Uncover before the interview:

  • Company structure

  • Company culture

  • Top clients

  • Competition

  • Trends in industry

  • Company’s successes, misses, and “headlines” over the most recent 2-3 years

 

Uncover before you accept a job offer:

  • Financial status

  • Biggest challenge that the company, department, or division

  • Advancement and succession policies

  • Opportunities for training, development, and promotion

  • Organization’s chief values/philosophy

 

Financial Details & Company Profiles

Below are examples of sites on which you can conduct company research.  It is easier to find information on publicly-held companies.  Check out the following links to view ranks of top companies, reports filed by public companies, and profiles of major employers.

 

Company News

It is critical to know the latest news.  In today’s market, you can easily tap into up-to-the-minute news. Larger companies will have more information available. However, small and mid-sized companies are becoming increasingly savvy, as are local bloggers, so don’t skip this step just because your target is a small company.

  • News from the Company: Simply, visit your favorite search site and enter the company’s name as the key search words to find the company’s website.

  • Social Media Investigation: Conduct company research using LinkedIn and Facebook company pages.Search for your target company using keywords.Don’t forget Yelp.com to research service or hospitality companies.

  • Press Releases: Type the company name and the words, “press release” in your search engine search bar. If you retrieve many results, you can narrow the results by adding the current year to the search criteria.This should produce results from the company’s page as well other sites.Also, try altering your search criteria with keywords “new products,” “executives,” “relocations,” “acquisitions,” “innovations.” and “expansion.”

  • Bad News: Try the search criteria of “rumor” and the company name. Getting the latest buzz is smart, but keep in mind that rumors are unreliable. Also, use search terms “lawsuits,” “class action,” “settlement” along with a company name or brand name will often generate information on lawsuits.

 

Insider Information

This may be your best source of information. Locate and connect with an insider using online or real world networks.  Kindly request the chance to briefly discuss their company, at their convenience. Explain that you purpose is to learn more about the company. There is a fine line between asking for a job interview (or job) and asking for their perspective.  Be nimble and respectful of the interviewee. If you said the talk is for information only, don’t pressure the person to pass your resume to their employer.

 

Company research is valuable at all phases of your job candidacy.  Yet, many candidates skip the research and go through the process with the rudimentary information that have acquired by happenstance. Don’t make that mistake.  Research gives you the insight that you need so you can present your unique value relative to the company’s needs. It also helps you make an informed decision as to whether this company is a fit.  Take the time to prepare and you will be poised to make a strong your case for your candidacy.