The Right Way to Research
In 2012, the average internet user spent 22% of their time on email, another 22% browsing Social Media sites and 21% of their time conducting web searches. Yet only 20% of their time was actually spent reading the content they discovered, suggesting that the sea of information online has finally overtaken our ability to consume it.
Staying focused in the sticky tangle of the World Wide Web can be particularly challenging when faced with the open-ended task of researching a new job opportunity. Yet this critical part of the process often makes the difference between landing or losing the job. Frankly, it’s not worth applying if you don’t have the time or interest to do your research first.
Whether you’re actively seeking a new job or simply wondering what’s out there, the trick to researching quickly and efficiently is to know what you’re looking for and where to find it. Challenge yourself to check off each item on this list without getting sidetracked, and you should be up to speed in under an hour.
WHERE TO LOOK
Begin with a Google search to get the lay of the land. Your initial search should outline the basics of the company’s presence online, identifying its size, locations, corporate website, social profiles, key players, recent news and main competitors.
A company’s LinkedIn page will differ from its Facebook page, as it is geared to a more professional and engaged demographic. Rather than catering to clients or customers, the LinkedIn page is often designed for colleagues and prospective employees (thereby providing a quick and to-the-point summary of the company’s corporate philosophy). What type of content do they share on LinkedIn? Do you know anyone who works there who may be able to provide further insight or a recommendation?
A business’s corporate website presents its products and services, the type of relationship it has with the public, and – perhaps most fundamentally – whether or not it is hiring, in its own words. Note here which key attributes the company chooses to highlight, as these will be easy talking points to establish an immediate connection later on.
Yelp, Glassdoor and/or BBB
Do you have questions about how the company treats or interacts with customers? How about its employees? You should. This is where the transparency of the internet comes in handy; websites such as Yelp, Glassdoor, and the BBB make it easier than ever to uncover employee and consumer reviews about their experiences with company. Perhaps the company isn’t for you – researching this aspect up front can save valuable time down the road.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
An “About Us” page gives the audience information as to the company history, milestones and successes, vision, and who can be found in executive management, among other things. Do they emphasize any aspects of their culture in particular? What is it about this company that makes you so interested?
A Mission Statement explains why the company exists and what their intentions, ambitions, and motivations are. Make sure to incorporate this language into your cover letter, resume, and interview to show that you are similarly aligned around their core values.
A quick way to find recent press on a prospective company (such as noteworthy hires/fires, expansions, or new partnerships or product launches) is to type the company’s name into Google, hit “Search,” and then select News in the dropdown menu titled “More” in the search results.
Unlike the selected press section on a company’s website, this will often provide a more thorough and unbiased overview of their recent presence in the media.
A company usually targets a specific audience or demographic when describing its products/services online. As you browse, note the language and look and feel of their website and online profiles – are they formal or informal? Contemporary or traditional? What age are the people featured in their photography? A company’s customer base provides great context to better understand their business model, operations, marketing plan and competitive landscape. Is this a place where you will fit in?
It may be possible to find internal reviews of the work culture and environment, from both past and present employees. These reviews can be incredible useful, as they give you different perspectives about your prospective employer. A quick perusal of a company’s Facebook page may do the same – view Recent Comments in the top right corner of their Timeline to see what others have to say.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR INFORMATION
Once you’ve compiled a good amount of information on your potential employer, ask yourself: do I want to work for this company? If by the end of your research you realize that you don’t want to work for that company, then you’ve saved yourself time and energy, as well as that of the prospective employer.
However, if you confirm that you do want to work for the company, then you are now better prepared for the application process. Make sure to incorporate your findings into your resume, cover letter, and interview going forward to show that you are knowledgeable about the company and truly interested in working there (rather than simply searching for a job).
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Don’t forget the job description itself! When you find a job advertisement that you like, it is very important that you read the post in its entirety, both before and after you’ve done your research. It may seem obvious, but many people simply skim through the post and call it a day.
Taking the time to carefully read through the job description, including the responsibilities, educational and skill requirements and salary range, is crucial. Not only will it help you to filter jobs – those that you’re qualified for and those you’re not – but it also provides a further resource to help tailor your resume and application materials to suit the specific needs of the company in question.
Researching a potential employer is all about showing a specific interest in their company and marketing yourself accordingly. Do your research and connect it back to the job description, and you should see a big difference right away.