When you’re job hunting, it’s essential to do your research on potential employers. Learning about a company can help you decide if it’s the right fit for you and give you a leg up in the interview process. Here’s how and why to research a company before applying for a job.
How to Research Potential Employers
In addition to better understanding what the company does, research can help you decide if the company is a good fit for you. It can also give you an edge in the interview process by helping you prepare thoughtful questions and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company.
Begin With the Website
There are a few different ways to research a company. Start by looking at the company website, which can tell you a lot about its mission, values, and culture. Dive deeper than the front page. You’ll want to dig through the company’s About page, careers section, and blog.
Explore company leadership and take some time to discover the company’s values—including whether they match your personal mission statement and career goals.
Dive Into Social Media
The company’s social media pages are an excellent source of information about the culture. This is the information they are intentionally pushing toward customers. You’ll also find customer reviews and comments, allowing you to note the tone they use to interact with their audience.
Companies often use social media to highlight events and any nonprofits or specific causes they support, which you can note as a shared passion during your interview.
After you’ve perused social media, move over to LinkedIn, where you’re likely to find a different side of the company represented. Companies often use LinkedIn to connect with other businesses and prospective employees. Their messaging can be less of a sales push and more about their corporate culture and growth initiatives.
You’ll want to be especially mindful of any posts that mention new products or technologies the company is developing. And you may be able to discover contact information for the hiring manager of the position you’re considering. That way, you can send a personalized cover letter and effective follow-up to your application.
Search News Articles
If the organization is more extensive, you can often find articles on business and news sites about them. You’ll discover if they’ve struggled with rotating leadership or widespread layoffs, for instance, of if they’ve won accolades for an excellent, employee-first company culture.
One of the best ways to stand out in an interview is to show the hiring manager that you’re excited about working for that specific company, rather than any job. The more you know about a company, the easier it is to convey that. Depending on the company’s size, you might spend some time looking up information on the Fortune 500 or 100 Best Companies to Work For Lists.
If you’re interested in a specific field or work arrangement, try niche job boards that can give you additional information. For example, if your goal is landing a flexible job, you can spend time researching company profiles on FlexJobs or Remote.co.
Peruse Employee Reviews
If you want an idea of what it’s like to work at a company, head over to Glassdoor or Indeed and read through employee reviews. You’ll find information about everything from vacation days to how managers treat their direct reports. You can also often find interview questions that candidates were asked during the hiring process, which can give you a leg up if you’re selected for an interview.
Remember to take negative reviews with a grain of salt if there is only an occasional one. That might be someone who was disgruntled and venting. However, if there is a common negative theme among the reviews, you should take time to consider carefully if you would thrive in the environment the team members are describing.
Use Your Network
If you know anyone who already works for the company, find out if they can spare 15 minutes for an informational interview where you can ask them about their experience. They can give you insight that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. And don’t hesitate to reach out to others in your network with whom you aren’t personally acquainted. You may be surprised at how willing people are to help when they enjoy the company they work for.
How to Use Your Company Research
As you’re researching, take note of anything that stands out to you, whether it’s a positive or negative review. You can use this information to help you decide if the company is a good fit for you, and it can also help target your application.
Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter
As you note the tone and culture of the company, along with any passion projects or initiatives, you can choose which experience you highlight. Your goal is to show that you’re an obvious fit for the role and create an application package that grabs a recruiter’s attention.
For example, suppose you’re a web designer and note that the company focuses on supporting small businesses. In that case, you can choose to include the experience you have working with smaller companies that don’t have large budgets and separate departments.
In your cover letter, highlight that you’re passionate about working with smaller companies to help them compete in the online market against larger organizations with vast resources.
Share Your Enthusiasm During an Interview
Thorough research can help you overcome gaps in qualifications or experience that the employer is looking for. Most recruiters or hiring managers will ask, “Why do you want to work here?” Your research will help you convey why this particular company is exciting and what about the role makes you want to grow your career with them.
Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market
Researching a company shows that you’re interested in the organization and eager to learn more about it. This can make you more attractive to employers, help you ask better questions, and hold more insightful conversations during the interview process.
So, take some time researching potential employers before applying and discover how it can help you land your dream job.
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