Researching potential employers is vital to any effective job search. This kind of research comes in handy at three pivotal times during a job search: first when you’re deciding what kind of employer you’d like to work for, secondly when you’ve found a job that interests you and are ready to apply, and finally, when you’re interviewing and your knowledge of the company is put to the test.
For any stage of the job search, here are 11 steps to guide you through the research process:
1. Look for companies that share your values.
In a recent survey, 20% of candidates in Australia said they were most attracted to a new job because of meaningful work.¹ By researching a company’s core mission, you’re not only ensuring they have clear goals but ones that resonate with your interests, passions and values.
If you value social causes, diversity initiatives or innovation, choose a company that aligns with these. Indeed Company Pages offers detailed information on both local and international organisations. Read reviews from past and present employees covering topics such as company culture, salary, job advancement and work/life balance.
2. Research employee benefits the company provides.
To attract potential employees, companies often disclose healthcare benefits and other perks, including stock options, flexible work schedules, or unique onsite facilities that may include gyms or catered cafeterias.
On an employer’s Indeed Company Page, there is a section for Q&A. You can read what others are saying about company benefits along with conversations about the hiring and interview process, and the company’s culture. You can even ask a question yourself. It can also be beneficial to review the Careers and About Us pages on a company’s website in addition to their social media channels.
3. Dive into the company’s business.
How does the company make money? Who buys their products or services and are they highly rated? Is the company a start-up? If it’s an established business, how has it grown over time? What industry is this company in? Are they listed on the stock exchange? The answers to these questions will give you an idea of how stable the business is, what some of their immediate concerns might be, and how you could play a part in their success.
For public companies, you can get this information from their website as well as access certain financial information, office locations, and learn how the company is structured. Public companies typically post annual reports and other public financial documents online.
Look out for information that will help you answer questions about the industry and how the company you’re researching could pull ahead or maintain their lead.
4. Learn about the company’s leadership.
When a company captures your interest, you should get to know who is leading the organisation. Research the employees who hold respected positions within the company by reading the “About Us” page and employee biographies on the company’s website. Look at the social media profiles of executives and department directors—What are their posts like? Are they proud to represent the brand or work in the industry? Some leaders may have been interviewed by media outlets or written books and articles that can provide insight into their thinking.
5. Expand your research to news and recent events.
A company’s website, blog, and social media are great ways to learn about a company but you’ll also want to get an external perspective. Search for general news coverage and specific industry publications for recent updates about the company and their competitors. Scanning customer forums and product reviews can also help you gauge a company’s or their products’ reputation.
6. Use your network.
Ask trusted, reliable friends and associates for their opinions. After you’ve done your research, discuss what you’ve learned with your network. Ask people you know for the inside scoop on their own company’s culture and if there are opportunities available. If you’re a recent university graduate building your network from scratch, ask university advisors or professors for introductions to anyone they may know who works at your target companies. Consider reaching out to these people for a quick coffee meeting.
7. Watch out for red flags.
It’s a good idea to scan headlines for major changes in a company’s recent past. Note any significant events, such as widespread layoffs, corporate mergers or buyouts, a new CEO, etc. Such changes can bring opportunities but can also result in low employee morale and leave a volatile work environment in their wake.
8. Set aside enough time.
It’s important to note that research takes time. If it’s not possible for you to set aside several hours at one time, break it up into 20-minute blocks. Dedicate each block to researching a different part of the company. Here’s an example of what your research calendar might look like:
A guide wouldn’t be much help if it didn’t have a few troubleshooting tips. If you lose your way or hit a wall, below are a few suggestions to help you.
9. You aren’t finding much information.
If you’re interested in working at a smaller company, you may have difficulty tracking down information online. Fortunately, there are many media sources—including national and local news, trade publications, business journals, forums, and blogs—that provide articles and product reviews. Begin with an internet search on the company and look for third-party sources you can trust.
10. You have no idea what kind of company to work for.
If you’re a new graduate or in career transition, you may want to start by building a list of industries that best suit your knowledge, skills, and interests. You can start by searching through Indeed Company Pages. Navigate by industry and company ratings to find a variety of organisations that will fit with your new goals.
11. Lastly, what not to do.
After learning all you can about a company, you may be tempted to showcase that new-found information during the interview. But be sure you do so strategically and to your benefit. Use the information you’ve learned to connect your skills and experience to the job description, goals for the department, and vision for the company throughout the interview.
Be mindful that some of the information you’ve found may be outdated. If you’ve found sensitive information in your research, think carefully before bringing it up in the conversation. Creating an awkward situation with the hiring manager by attempting to show off your researching talents may backfire.
Company research is time well spent for developing knowledge of an organisation, preparing for interviews (especially the favourite “Tell us why you want to work here” question), and writing an eye-catching cover letter. It also helps you make an informed decision about whether a company is a good match for you.
Start your research with Indeed Company Pages and get to know potential employers with reviews, Q&A forums and more.
¹ Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed, n=1,000