How to Do World-Class Research on a Company when Looking for a Job
Whether you’re making an application, already got that interview, or are a runner trying to break Jinteki’s latest ICE subroutines – information is power.
The right info can help give you an edge over all the other applicants at every stage of the recruitment process. It can even uncover hidden roles and better ways to get what you want.
Tackling company research properly can massively improve your chances of getting the job you want, and the pay you deserve, so let’s show you…
How to do Company Research
This falls into two categories (sorry Netrunners, you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves)
- Before you Apply – everything you need to do before you send a application
- Before your Interview – everything you need to do before an interview
Doing research at each step can open up new opportunities, equip you with the right questions, and this is REALLY important – tell you if a company is the right one for you.
You don’t have to wait for a job to be posted; you can get in the door before the job ad has been posted.
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Find job roles that aren’t posted on standard job sites
Figure out what a company needs
Find out who to address an application to
Understand a company’s values and approach
- Head to the website.
Chances are this will be your best source of information. Not only can you learn about their products and services, structure, locations, social links, but many also have information for job applicants.
Read it. Consume it. Understand it.
They may also advertise jobs their first. The jobs available will give you some insight into where and what the current needs are, so you can be the one to fill them.
- Get on Social Media
LinkedIn and Facebook are key here, but don’t rule out Twitter (check our list of companies hiring on Twitter) and Instagram, and to a lesser extent, Snapchat.
Plenty of companies post jobs on Facebook, and LinkedIn has become HUGE. At the time of writing there are 1,315,611 jobs in the UK alone, on LinkedIn.
Reviewing these will give you a ‘feel’ for the company, their attitude, their values, how they operate, and what their needs are. If you know their needs and values then you are equipped with the information to get the interview.
Are they super serious and professional? Are they quirky and fun? Use this to your advantage.
- Get Some Names
Find out who you need to address an application to. This may be on the ‘about us’ page, where they may have an HR Manager, or if it’s within a specific department, the manager there.
BEFORE AN INTERVIEW
Your CV sang the right notes, the interview has been offered, and it’s time to arm yourself with the right information to make you win.
- Knowledge of Industry
You don’t just need to know about the company; you need to understand the industry it’s in.
Who are their main competitors? What are the trends? Who are the key players? What are the big news stories?
Being able to demonstrate that you know the landscape and how the company operates within it makes you a much more appealing proposition; you’re showing a genuine interest, that you can do solid research, and can use your initiative.
2. Getting Started
There are some easy wins here. There may be trade journals, LinkedIn groups, or whole websites dedicated to news in that particular field.
For example, The Grocer is the UK’s Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry journal – https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/ That would be a great place to go for anyone looking to work on the FMCG sector.
You can also follow industry leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest information and news – not that this may have a bias depending on their role so do check multiple sources.
Get on social media for more information on the customer base, values, culture, vibe and feel of the company, as well as the larger industry. Again you want to know where they fit in the broader scope of the industry.
Don’t forget the old school media – newspapers – especially if it’s a local company.
3. Culture Club
You probably don’t want to work somewhere awful. Somewhere that grinds their employees into the ground. That only care about the bottom line.
Sites such as Glassdoor make it easier to find out what a company is really like – but do note that pissed off people are much more likely to leave a review than someone who’s perfectly happy.
Be wary of companies with exclusively poor reviews; use that information to inform the questions you’ll ask at the interview to make sure you don’t make a mistake.
4. It’s all about the Money
You need to understand a company’s financial position – this will help build the picture of where they are right now. Will they be a good match for your career goals? Will they be able to pay your expectations?
In the UK, registered companies are required to file accounts with Companies House – these are free to access by the public.
In the USA, use the EDGAR database at U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
PREPPING THE DATA
You’ve done your research and got a bunch of information. Now it’s time to pull it together to give you the best possible chance.
It’s time to ask yourself some questions:
- What are my career goals?
- How much do I want to earn?
- What environment will I be happy working in?
- What do I need from an employer in terms of their values?
With this info you can compare what you have learned, to what you need.
If you’re ready to apply/attend interview, it’s time to align your knowledge, skills, and experience, with what they want.
Go get ‘em!
Robin Bates – Helping you spy on potential employers to get that job
Check our guides on interviews and CVs for more on this: