Job Search Tip of the Week – 03/15/2016


Part II: How to Conduct Thorough Research

Back to the Basics

Last week, I discussed how adding social media to your research routine gives you an advantage over other applicants and interviewees (Catch up here if you missed it!) by giving you insight into the company’s employees and its place in the industry.

Admittedly, thoroughly investigating a company’s social presence takes some time. So what do you do if an interview opportunity unexpectedly arises? This “Back to the Basics” crash-course will show you how to find the information you need (In only an hour!) to be more than sufficiently prepared for a first-round interview and be a stand-out candidate.

The Company’s Website

Would you agree that the company’s website is produced and maintained by the company, or in the company’s best interests? Yes? Then it makes sense that the website’s content reflects what the company finds important or believes the public should know. Following this train of logic, you should agree that you should spend most of your time (25 minutes) reviewing the company’s website!

Make sure to check out the “About Us” page, which contains need-to-know information often organized by tabs or into concise sections. After reading through all of them, you should be well-versed in the company’s history, values, mission, products and services and accomplishments.

At the very least, a well-created website should contain the names of the important people in the organization (aka the management team). Bonus points (hint, hint) if by the end of 30 minutes you also know what said people have been up to. Cue:

Press Coverage and News Articles

Regardless of whether the company’s website includes highlights of its media coverage, you should search for additional press coverage and news articles on the company and its management team. After 15 minutes of breezing through headlines, you should be able to ascertain the company’s current status and direction in its industry.

If you have more time, I encourage you to read through the most recent articles with 3 questions in mind: Why is this company being recognized, and by whom? What job positions are they looking to fill, and why? What are they hoping for in the near future? By doing so you’ll be able to have a more engaging discussion with your interviewer on the company’s accomplishments and future plans.

The Company’s Competitors

A company’s future plans are heavily impacted by its competitors’ actions, so it’s imperative you know who else is competing in the space. Your opportunity to talk about how the company compares to its competitors and demonstrate your interest in the industry doesn’t usually appear in a first-round interview, but you should gain a basic knowledge of it anyway just in case.

In a search engine, enter a query that includes the 3 to 5 keywords you’d use to describe the company you’re researching, and the city or region said company is located in. Spend no more than 15 minutes clicking through the results to see the company’s competitors and what they’ve been up to lately.

The Company’s Reviews

The last 10 minutes of your hour should be spend glancing at reviews of the company and its employees (via Glassdoor, Google, Yelp, and LinkedIn, for example). From there you’ll be able to ascertain the company’s shortcomings and strengths.

Remember: Taking the time to inform yourself about your potential employer and the topics and industry it cares about makes you a more valuable candidate!