Researching a Company


Imagine applying for your dream job, landing the interview, and being hired only to discover after a week on the job that the company dumps toxins into Lake Ontario thereby irreparably damaging the environment. If your values guide you into respecting natural resources, then you will not be happy working for this company, and you will soon have to look for another job. That is why doing thorough company research is an essential factor in finding a job that is right for you.

What is Company Research?

Company research involves finding out as much information as you can to determine if it is a place you would like to work. Company research consists of

  • reading the company's Website, press kit, annual report, and other literature,
  • talking to people who have worked there,
  • finding out what its competitors and clients say about it,
  • conducting an information interview, and
  • reading any materials published in the media, including newspapers, trade publications, business indexes, and the Internet.

Why Do Company Research?

Do company research to determine if the company is really a place where you would want to work. Be sure that the company's mission and values match your own. Also, find out about the corporate culture:

  • Are interactions between employees formal or informal?
  • What is the dress code?
  • How does it approach human rights issues?
  • What are its standards?

You should also do company research when applying for a job. Use some key points to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and to show how you can be an asset there. Then use the information during an interview to further demonstrate your interest in working for that company.

What You Need to Know about a Company

Seek out information that will help you determine your fit into the organization, possibilities for advancement, and company stability. Here are some more questions you may want answered before applying for a job:

  • What qualities does the company seek in an employee? For example, does it seek creativity, initiative, perseverance, accuracy, and punctuality?
  • What kind of an atmosphere does the company have? For example, is it tensed or relaxed, formal or informal, dynamic or static?
  • What are the company's hiring procedures and policies? For example, does it hire frequently; does it hire only through referrals?
  • What developments or changes is the company planning? This information can help you identify a growing need in the company and company stability. For example, if the company is planning to develop online business services, it will need people with Internet skills.

Be sure to itemize the information that YOU need to help determine whether or not a company is right for you. Then, consult various sources to get the information. By consulting various sources, you will be able to find information that goes beyond the publicity information typically published by companies in their Annual Report and on their Websites.

When Applying for a Job

When applying for a job, find out what kind of information the employer requires. For example, does he or she prefer a résumé or a curriculum vitae? Do you have to fill out an application form or submit a résumé and cover letter?

Get the name of the person who is responsible for hiring so that you can address the documents to that person. Obtaining the name indicates that you have enough interest in the job to do a bit of extra research. Make sure that you are aware of the skills and qualifications the company is seeking for the job you want. In addition, highlight those skills in all your application documents. Finally, find out the kinds of questions the employer will ask in the interview, as well as the appropriate clothing to wear to the interview.

When Deciding to Accept a Job

Reassess whether this company fits with the personal needs and preferences that you identified in your self-assessment. Take some time to think about all that you have learned about yourself and the company to make sure that there is a good "fit."

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