Preparing to apply for a job is hard work. You’re fine-tuning your resume, tweaking your cover letter, and verifying that your strengths match the qualifications of the job. But are you taking the time to research a company before applying? A few extra minutes spent researching a company can help you understand what the company is looking for—which you can then use to customize your application and prepare for your interview questions.
When you research a company, you can set yourself up as a qualified, knowledgeable candidate who’s truly interested in the job. Or, worst-case scenario, you might search out some unpleasant news from your job search research that might save you the hassle of applying. Read on for tips to help you learn how to research a potential employer.
First, create a list of the questions you want to answer when researching the company and its employer brand. Here are a few sample questions of what you’ll want to answer:
The company website is an excellent source of information about the organization’s products and services, as well as its mission, values, and employee culture. Take a look at the “About Us” or “Meet the Team” pages to gain a better sense of the people who work there. Read up on the “Careers” page to see if the company is hiring for any other positions. Learn about any social causes or initiatives that the company supports. The company website should answer most, if not all, of the questions on your checklist.
You’ve read through the company’s website, but now you want to learn how outsiders perceive the company. Google the firm’s name to search for any recent news such as expansions and layoffs, stock performance, or product launches. This helps you build your understanding of the company, but it also might send up a red flag if you discover that the company recently laid off workers or had a product recalled.
To properly research a company before you apply for their job, you want to get a full understanding of the culture. Companies typically use their social media accounts to share lighthearted photos and employee stories, as well as any recent news and achievements. If you see something on social media that interests you, like photos of a recent employee outing or team-building event, make a note to ask about it during the interview.
Nowadays, you probably wouldn’t buy an item without checking its online reviews first. The same goes for any potential employers. Search for the company’s reviews to discover how both current and former employees really feel about the company, its culture, its benefits, and its brand at large. Employees might also share typical interview questions, which can help you prepare accordingly.
LinkedIn can be another great source of information about the company and its current employees. If you land an interview, check out your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to see if you share any connections and interests, or perhaps attended the same school. Company LinkedIn pages will typically highlight business stats and posts as well as recently shared jobs and promotions. If you have any current connections who work for the company, reach out to them to ask for their honest take on their employer.
Research the company’s main competitors and see how the industry is performing as a whole. To do this, check competitors’ social media pages and websites to see how they compare to your potential employer. Visit websites of professional associations in the industry for hot button challenges. This job search research can help you start thinking about how you might be able to help them solve these challenges.
Now that you have a game plan to research a potential employer, use the information you searched to craft a cover letter that will impress recruiters with your knowledge and passion about the company. Check out more career advice on cover letters and resumes in our resource library.