How to Leverage the Information on Employer Websites
These days many employers and recruiters think that job seekers have become very lazy, submitting their application for every job they see. And, many job seekers do seem to do that. You can use the information you've found on the employer's Website to differentiate yourself from the seeming crowd of lazy job seekers.
If there isn’t a Website for the employer, that’s a message. It may reflect corporate strategy (or lack thereof), or it may mean that the employer couldn’t afford to pay their Web hosting company (a bad sign). It may also mean that the employer doesn’t really exist.
Scammers target job seekers frequently, so, if there isn't a decent looking Website for the employer, be wary that you may have discovered a scam. More on Avoiding Job Search Scams.
Using the Information on Employer Websites for Your Job Search
The employer's website is a window into their world - or what they want the world to think about them.
I've spoken to many employers who wouldn't hire a job candidate who hadn't visited the employer's website, viewing it as a lack of interest in the job. So, make them happy by looking and also use these tips to learn much more about them.
Reading Between the Lines
Jobs are not the only useful thing on an employer's Website. That Website provides valuable information about the image the employer presents to the outside world.
Are jobs posted on the employer site? Easy or difficult to find the jobs?
My sense from looking at thousands of employer Websites is that organizations which need a constant supply of applicants make sure that the jobs are easy for casual visitors to find. In a fast-growing organization and/or a growing industry (hospitals and healthcare centers, for example), links to the job postings are usually obvious and on every page of the Website.
A poorly run organization usually has high turnover (employees leaving voluntarily to find better jobs), and, therefore, ALSO need a constant supply of applicants. The good news is that, usually, the Website is poorly run so they don't recruit agressively on their site, but take care and ask questions when you get to the interview process to figure out what is going on.
The state of the Website also offers insight into how technically cognizant they are or can afford to be.
What and how much information is available? How well is the information presented? Is the Website amateur night or professional? Information rich, only a sales tool, or the we-have-a-website-because-everyone-else-does site? Open organizaiton or closed? For a hint on the site’s age, check the year on the copyright notice, if there is one, at the bottom of each page. Old is not usually good.
What is the "party line" being presented?
At a minimum, see what the employer is telling the world about itself. Successes? Products? Services? Locations? Structure / organization? Growth? Plans? Contact names? Remember the "party line" presented will typically be on the rosy side, so it’s appropriate to be somewhat skeptical of the claims made.
Smart employers are getting savvier about the messages sent by their Website, and so should job seekers.
Applying the Information
Even if job seekers don't find jobs posted on the employer's Web site, visiting the employer’s Web site offers a wonderful opportunity to collect information about the organization. Is it a professional, information-rich site or skimpy and out of date?
Resumes and Cover Letters
The more a job seeker knows about the organization, the more targeted their resume and cover letter. Competition is tough, so the more specifically you demonstrate your knowledge of - and interest in - that specific employer, the more you will stand out from other (lazier?) applicants, and the better you will do.
No one in management have an advanced degree, but you do? Maybe this isn't a good fit? Or, maybe you don't include your MBA on your resume unless it's specified for in the job description.
As mentioned earlier, I've had recruiters tell me they automatically eliminated any applicant who hadn't taken the time to visit the organization's Website. So, job seekers should beware! In many organizations, the proverbial “bar has been raised” on standards job seekers must meet or exceed to progress through the hiring process.
Ask intelligent questions during the interview based on the information from the Website - e.g. "I see you recently opened up a location in London (introduced a new product/service, hired a new marketing VP, closed a plant, etc.). Is your market international in scope? Do you plan to expand to other countries in the near future?"
Overlooking a careful visit to the organization's Website is a big mistake! Show that you visited the Website, read what was there, and are interested in the organization - not a "typical lazy job seeker."
Check out Job-Hunt's Company Research column for more information and tips about company research.
Next: Associations and Alumni Groups
© Copyright, 1998 - 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.