The 20-Minute Company Research Guide

Many clients tell me that they don’t have time to research a company. That’s not a valid excuse. You can accomplish significant research for an initial job interview in 20 minutes. That is the same amount of time many people spend catching up with friends on Facebook on a daily basis.

Here are some tips to create a quick dossier on your target company.

1. Start with a Research Checklist

It’s so easy to go online and waste an hour. After that time, what have you accomplished? If you start with a checklist of information you want to gather, you can improve your level of efficiency when conducting company research. Here’s an example of a checklist. This may vary a bit based on your personal job target.

  • Company’s industry
  • Services or products of company
  • Company’s primary market and customers
  • Company leaders (CEO, CFO, President, etc.)
  • Manager responsible for hiring
  • Company structure and locations
  • Competitors
  • Trends in industry
  • Company’s successes, misses, and headlines over recent 2-3 years
  • Company’s financial status (For more details,read the Researching Annual Reports article.)

2. Don’t Miss These Top Resources for Quick Research

These easily accessible resources will provide answers to most of the questions on your research checklist. Whether your target employer is a small business, large private company, public company, or non-profit entity, you can perform research using one or more of these resources:

  • Target Employer’s Website
  • Financial Reporting Sites, such as
  • SEC (To view public companies’ required reports.)
  • Research small businesses by tapping into data on a local chamber of commerce website.

3. Use Social Media for More Information

Most professionals are active on social media sites. Take a few minutes of your social media time to gather more information about your target employer. This is a great way to cross a few more items off your research checklist.

4. Visit’s Links for Additional Resources

In addition to hundreds of valuable articles, has an extensive resource area. Below are two links to aid you in finding even more company research sites.

If you have 20 minutes, you have enough time to increase your knowledge of your target employer.

Bottom Line

There is never an excuse to go to a job interview without a solid understanding of the employer. The intelligence you gather will increase your odds of earning a second interview, and, in other situations, help you avoid an employer that would not be a good match for you, is a bad place to work, or is in financial difficulty.

Debra WheatmanAbout the author…

Debra Wheatman is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). She is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques with more than 18 years’ corporate human resource experience. Debra has been featured on Fox Business News, WNYW with Brian Lehrer, and quoted in leading publications, including, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. Debra may be reached at [email protected], or you may visit her website at
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