Job hunting is not a one-sided process in which only the companies accept you. You need to accept the company as well! Doing your job research is a crucial step towards making informed decisions and presenting the best version of yourself.
When searching for jobs, it is not only prudent, but also an effective tactic to do your own research.
From considerable research and experience, it’s safe to convey that barely any people do this bit diligently or thoroughly. So putting in some time and effort will definitely set you apart from other candidates.
In this article we elaborate on the research you need to do when looking for a job. This will help you truly prepare for all the stages of recruitment with the company. Or, it can help you determine whether or not you want to pursue the company and job at all.
Some of the key reasons to research the company
- You will be more informed about how to present yourself. Understanding more about the company will give you an edge to better cater to what they are looking for. This could relate to tweaking your resume, cover letter, or even steering the conversation during the interviews.
- Not doing any research beforehand can make you look clueless and unprepared at an interview if any discussion around the company and its work comes up.
- You can judge how to represent their desired culture and simultaneously decide if it’s right for you. (For example, if you come from a structured, traditional corporate culture, and you know you are interviewing at a company that is more easy going, and has a laissez faire culture, you can position that side of yourself during the interviews. You can subsequently showcase a side of yourself in that light with your stories and anecdotes.)
- Finally, you will gain a broader understanding of their business. This could enable you to find deeper meaning and purpose in your role.
The last two points can actually help you decide whether or not you would even want to pursue the particular job role and organization.
What should you look for when you research for a job?
Good research when looking for a job includes the following:
- the role,
- the expectations the company has (in terms of qualifications, skills, experience, attitude, values, etc.) and a compensation ballpark at the minimum,
- the various aspects of the company and their business (including the nature of tasks, ongoing projects, etc.)
All this knowledge will help you immensely by showing that you genuinely care about the company and are invested in it.
With this on your side, you gain brownie points in the eyes of the recruiters or interviewers.
There are many aspects about the company you could look for, and thanks to the internet, there’s tons of information available online. You just need to know where to look for it.
Some of the main things you need to look out for when doing job research are:
What to look for: It is critical for you to understand the company, what do they do, what lines of business they are in, what kind of products or services they offer, what are the price points, who is their target customer, and what real-world problems the company solves.
Joining a company that’s making a loss, or even worse is a zombie company can sometimes be a giant pause button on one’s career. This is not always true, but one needs to be mindful when taking professional risks like these.
Maybe the company bought or merged with companies or sold divisions recently. This could indicate what kinds of plans they have lined up for the future.
It will also clarify what their strategic or competitive advantages are and where they stand in the market. It is also important to identify who their competition is.
Where to look for it: Look at online press releases, product launch information, market predictions.
If they’re a public company, look for financial statements and annual reports to know whether they are profitable.
All of this can tell you more about the company, their business and their competitors.
Your target business unit, department, and team
Next, try to understand the team or department you are looking to join and interview for. What to look for:
Try to get answers to the following:
- Who are your teammates?
- Who is your future boss?
- What are they like?
- What is the culture of the workplace like?
- Do you think you will enjoy working with them?
- Do you think you will learn and grow in an environment like that?
Your job research should attempt to uncover a little about more about the product or service that you will be contributing towards.
Where to look for it: For B2B (Business to Business) products, look for review platforms such as Capterra, G2.com, Trustradius. For B2C (Business to Customer) companies, there are platforms that provide public reviews, including their social media. If you can get an idea that’s great. But if you can’t. That’s okay too. That’s where networking and word-of-mouth come in.
Also for B2C companies, downloading their apps or checking out their services if possible can tell you a lot more from their customer point of view. It will help you see whether you can envision yourself fitting into the grand scheme of things there, and also whether you would like to be part of a team that enables that solution.
Where else do I look for this information?
Aside from the sources suggested above such as review sites, corporate websites, annual reports, social media, etc, networking with current and past employees or customers is a huge source of valuable information.
Beware not to take only one or two inputs because they may be biased and may end up being anecdotal information that will impact your thought process. Also look for employee engagement under Glassdoor that will tell you more about the people working there. Again a warning to pay attention to feedback from both current and past employees.
Connecting with actual people, including perhaps people who might give you on-ground information is invaluable.
Networking and building deeper connections is one of the most powerful tactics we have at our fingertips thanks to networking sites today. Learn how to approach people online, create a connection, build rapport over time by engaging with them directly as well as their posted content.
But also, don’t feel shy to build your own brand by responding to their content with insightful, valuable comments and posting your own ideas or creating your own portfolio (depending on your skill set).
Okay, job research done. Now what?
Now that you have spent so much time evaluating the company, their business, their competitors, the industry landscape, their customers, their internal operations, use this information to understand more about where to position yourself and how to present yourself on your resume and on your online content posts, as well as during the interviews or meetings.
This information used wisely can help you tailor your message in the right direction. It can showcase you as someone who does their homework, seems to know what they are talking about, and who is genuinely interested in this company and space.
So many companies, but such little time…
While job hunting, most people follow the ‘Spray and Pray’ tactic, which is very much like shooting a machine gun in the air and praying you hit your target. That doesn’t work very well, and if one understands how HR recruitment processes work, you would avoid it.
Making a concise targeted list of your ideal companies, and then approaching them with this technique can be very effective.
The time saved by applying to hundreds of jobs online or hitting ‘Interested’ on LinkedIn posts can be used to strategically target your ideal companies’ list by customizing your approach for each of them.
And to achieve reasonable customization, you need to execute your job research campaigns well. So, good luck!