Conducting Research on a Company

By Kristy Amburgey

thCAI715Z9Company research is one of the most important yet overlooked tasks of a job search.  The art of research allows job seekers to go beyond a few known facts to truly develop a career plan.  Research should be a comprehensive examination of a company, its culture, its products and its people.

Why conduct research?

Knowledge and the job search process go hand-in-hand.  The more you know about a company, the more successful you will be during the networking, application and interview process.  The more information you have on a company, the easier it will be to make informed decisions.

Research is more than beneficial in many ways.  It helps you target companies and opportunities that intersect with your background, experiences and interests.  Thorough research helps you to network more easily as you have a picture of the company and can speak to its goals, benefits, etc.  Research also helps you to create customized resumes and job search documents.  Research more than helps you during an interview process as you answer questions and converse in such a way that the company knows you have an insider perspective on their organization.  Research allows you to take charge of your job search.

What do you research?

Research of a company can involve many different features.  The extent of research depends on where you are in the job search process.  If you are selecting a degree, more general research and a review of job opportunities/descriptions are helpful; talking to people who work in the job type you want to pursue is beneficial.  If you are interviewing with a company, you need to dig deep and really get into the company as you should be able to relate your experiences and accomplishments to the company’s needs.  In general, though, you should research the following areas, varying the focus depending on the stage you are at in your education and job search.

  • Overall company insight: the company website, specifically the “About Us” part; external publications and articles; sites like Glassdoor or Hoovers; and general research are beneficial to get an overall perspective of the company
  • Products/Services: in aviation and aerospace, you may already know what products a company offers, but you need to have the full picture of what they do, what areas they impact and what they successfully accomplish
  • Financials: although not all career types need this information, it is important to understand how the company is doing financially (or however they might measure success); you may be able to find annual reports with this content, or you may be able to review filings for publically traded companies
  • Opportunities: find out what jobs or co-ops/internships they offer and read the descriptions that most interest you; this step will also help you narrow down your career options
  • Culture: each company has a set of values and goals that affect the entire operation; understand how the group’s culture fits with your career goals and values
  • Reputation: research also yields a varying array of feedback and comments that might impact your decision; do an internet search for this type of insight, always taking things with a grain of salt
  • People: some companies have “star” CEOs and leaders, and you need to know about these people; also understand who might work in your department, specifically, to get a picture of how you fit into the organization
  • Competition: the idea that you do some recon for a prospective employer may be jumping the gun, but you need to have an accurate picture of who else is out there that may impact the company’s ability to get contracts, make sales or showcase emerging technologies

How do you research?

Research is most strong when you pull from multiple sources.  Rely on the company website but move beyond using that as your only source of information.  Additional ideas on how to research include the following.

  • Company website
  • Press releases
  • People/your connections
  • LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, if applicable
  • News resources like Forbes, Fortune or the Wall Street Journal
  • Industry or trade publications
  • SEC or quarterly filings
  • Glassdoor, Hoovers, Vault, WetFeet, etc.
  • Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau
  • Blogs (search for related blogs at Google Blog Search)
  • And many more options

As you research a company, you should develop your own organizational system to keep track of the details.  You may find that a simple list of facts is most helpful, or you may want to bookmark the best webpages for easy reference.  However you effectively organize information, ensure that you can easily reference your research as you decide to apply for a position, meet a new contact, compose a resume or interview with a company.

If knowledge is power, then you want to put yourself in the best position possible to be as savvy as possible about a company for which you want to work.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years.

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