How and Why to Research a Company

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Why spend time on company research when you're job hunting? There are several good reasons why it's worth investigating companies, all of which are important to your successful job search.

Reasons to Research Companies

First of all, spending some time looking for and at employers will give you an idea of which companies are in your industries and fields of choice. You’ll also be able to determine which companies are hiring and what types of job openings they have available.

If you're applying for a position, you’ll want to find out everything you can about the company before you sit down for an interview. Knowing more about the company will make you feel more comfortable, and you’ll be able to ask questions that show you’re truly interested in the job.

Also, after all your research, you will be a well-prepared candidate for the position. Knowing specifics about the company’s goals, mission, products, policies, and company culture will impress upon the hiring manager your keen interest in the position, and your ability to assimilate quickly into a productive role.

Focus on Your Industry - or Your Area of Interest and Expertise

Spend some of your valuable company research time investigating the needs and benefits of organizations in your industry that appear to offer much more than the others. Do they specifically need people in your field? Or are they generalizing to, as they say, "cherry pick the workforce."

If you can, talk to people who work at a company to determine whether it's a place you want to work and if they would appreciate your particular skills. You don't want to find yourself welcomed one day and then laid off six months later.

It’s also helpful to learn more about the company history, financial stability, products and services, personnel, and perhaps some information about the company culture to see how you would fit in if you’re hired. Most companies, large and small, have websites where they showcase career opportunities and the company’s mission.

Use Your Connections

If you have a connection that will help you find inside information, use it. Do you know someone who works there? Ask them what the company culture is like, and how accurate and current the information on their website is. If you're a college graduate, ask your Career Office if they can give you a list of alumni who work at your target company. Then call or email those alumni to ask for insight, advice, and assistance.

Use Directories Which Will Help You Find Those Companies

You can search Hoover's Online by company name or keyword. ​​Superpages allows you to search by business name, category or location. Vault is a website that offers job seekers an in-depth look inside some of the hottest industries. They also provide career advice, along with company and industry profiles.

If you're interested in big business, you can browse the Fortune 500 top companies list. Then take a look at the snapshot for company details, revenues and contact information. Fortune provides similar lists for the 100 Fastest Growing Companies and the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Want to Ace That Interview?

Preparing for an interview is a certainly a crucial reason to research employers. You'll want to know as much about your potential employer as possible, so that you can start your interview on good footing.

Standard interview questions are "What do you know about us?" and "Why do you want to work here?" Research will enable you to have an informed, detailed response – and ask right questions, remember an interview is a dialogue. It’s as important for you to ensure the job is a good fit as it is for the employer.

Read anything and everything you can about your target company. Use Google to find the employer's website and check the company’s social media profiles. Then review the sites to see what the company is saying about itself.

Many times, you’ll find articles or links about new products or technologies where the company is mentioned. That’s a good place to explore for more in-depth research. Next, take a look at what the rest of the world is saying. Vault Reports is a good resource to find specific, detailed information about a particular employer.

Spending a little extra time to research the company before you apply and interview can make the difference between getting noticed by your dream company or getting passed over.