Employers Research

Employers ResearchOne of the most fundamental aspects of any job search preparation that can truly set you apart is employer research, especialy if you are offered an interview. Gathering information is necessary part of interview preparation and also increases the chances that you and the firm will be a good fit.

Employers ResearchEmployers are checking your references, online profile, digital dirt, and credentials before extending an offer. You would be mistaken to not do the same with any prospective hiring organization. So before you send your application take a closer look at your potential future employers.

There are several good reasons why it's worth investigating companies. Firstly, you will need to identify and target specific hiring companies in your job search that tie with your specific interests. That will give you an idea of what companies are in your industries and fields of choice. Secondly, you will be able to determine which companies are hiring and what types of job openings they have. If you're interviewing, you will be able to find out everything you need to know about the company before you sit down for an interview. In addition, you will be a well-prepared candidate for the job. Thirdly, to set yourself apart from the crowd you have to collect detailed information about each potential employer in the event to be adequately prepared for making direct contact.

Remember when doing detailed research, your goal is to demonstrate that you have interest in the company and passion for the industry, and that you are the best person for the job.

Employers tell us that one common area candidates regularly fall short on in their applications is a lack of evidence demonstrating their motivation and interest. An easy way to correct this is to make an effort to research the organisations that you are applying to, and the position itself. This adds further appeal to your application in what is a competitive market.

Potential employers are hidden behind the endless talk of organizational values. Uncovering a company's corporate culture is a critical task for today's job searcher. As important as the job itself. By examining the differing aims and values you can better match a company with your own characteristics, improving the likelihood of job satisfaction should you be successful. Also in looking at one particular employer you are likely to discover organisations in a similar area, which often widens your area of search for employment.

Before applying for the job, it would be appropriate to find just some basic facts about the company before you submit anything to help you decide if the company is a good fit i.e. could you see yourself working there, does the work appeal to you. By doing some due diligence early, you can quickly rule out any company not fitting your needs, ethics, or desired career path. As soon as you have found a company or companies which attune to your interests, you should start digging deeper.

Consider finding these details when researching an employer:

• Mission or philosophy statement
• The core business of the company and their different divisions
• Areas of specialization
• Source(s) of funding
• Company ownership (private or public)
• Board of Directors
• Reputation
• History or background
• Company competitors
• The biggest clients
• List of memberships
• Strategies and goals
• New projects
• Age
• Size and growth pattern
• Recent layoffs
• Number of employees
• Locations
• Office condition or facility types
• Personnel policies
• Types of people they employ
• Health of the industry
• Compensation and benefits
• Work environment and culture
• Number of positions being recruited for and the areas of the company in which they are located
• Details of the graduate employment program
• Job tasks associated with the role
• Work competencies and skills being sought
• Type of experience considered valuable
• The selection criteria / requirements for the position
• Training and development
• Unique selling points

When you get invitation for an interview, you should have a relatively detailed understanding of the company that will be interviewing you. You are simply polishing off with a few more details here and there, and revising so that you truly know it back-to-front. Equipping yourself with specific knowledge about the company and industry will not only allow you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, but you will be in a better position to ask questions about the company such as:

• Is the company growing, diversifying, specializing or restricting?
• How is the industry changing?
• What do you need to have to be a good at your job?
• What benefits do you offer a graduate who commences with your company?
• Is the job role changing due to advances in technology, productivity, the industry etc.?
• What are the constraints and challengers of the role?
• First-hand experience of the culture at the company.

Employer research aims to put together a list of resources and based on findings, decide whether a particular company is the right fit for you. Be sure to consider your goals, strengths and passions to see if the company is a match for your direction in life.

Here are a few good places to start your search:

Corporate Website

Look for industry information, product or service details, and management information. Any decent corporate site will list company age, size, partners, and leadership details. The bigger firms will have quite informative sites.


You should be aware that any new employer is going to dig for your digital dirt. Why not do the same? Search forums, websites, blogs, and online articles to see what others have to say about the company's products, services, and employee relations. You may be surprised.

Annual reports

The annual report offers insider information on what is important to the company; the insider information on what managers are focused on for the coming year; the current buzzwords in the company; and all the insider hot buttons that you can push in getting the interview and getting the job. This will provide you with a distinct competitive edge.

Better Business Bureau

Bureaus can alert you to complaints against companies in your area. Be sure to consult them to see if your prospective employer is on the list.

Trade Publications

Research the employer's industry activity in trade papers. Find their contributions to science, technology, or research. Read magazines, trade publications, and journals related to the field and organization.

Professional Associations

Is the company affiliated with an association? Consult the association website to see if the prospective employer is in good standing and how they contribute to the profession.


Check out any product or service ads the company runs in the media. Seeking out marketing information may be a key to how successful the company is in business and with clients.

Employee Handbook

Ask the Human Resources Department for the company's employee handbook to find details on health packages, compensation, retirement details, vacation time, sick leave, and personnel policies. It's amazing how a simple handbook can change your mind about a prospective employer.

Past Employee References

Do you know of a former employee of this company? Ask them why they left, who they reported to, and if they would ever work there again. A poor reference may be a good tell-tale sign.

Current Employee References

Do you know a current employee? Will the human resources department let you speak candidly to current members of staff? Interviewing current members of the team is an excellent way to judge if you want to work with this employer in the future.

Employer research is necessary in order to:

  1. Determine if the company is right for you - You may just find a dislike towards a particular industry, dig up unfortunate corporate digital dirt, or uncover poor employee relations. It's also possible to be disinterested in the company's products or services.
  2. Decide if you are right for the company - Some companies or industries may not be the right fit for your skill set or for your ethics.
  3. Help tailor your application (resume, cover letter) to the position - Knowing specifically what makes the company tick can turn your application into the bomb.
  4. Help address the needs of the organization - Knowing why the company needs to hire for a position is key to addressing how you can help the company.
  5. Prepare excellent interview questions - Knowing specific industry information or advanced product knowledge can get you closer to an offer.
  6. Demonstrate your interest in the organization - A common interview question is "Why do you want to work for us?" Having an educated answer puts you ahead of the competition. One of the most important ways to distinguish yourself in an interview is to speak knowledgeably about the organization.
  7. Educate yourself about a particular industry - Perhaps this job is in a new industry for you. Get in the know before writing your application and heading into the interview room.

This may seem like a time consuming exercise, but this small effort in additional preparation can make a real difference to your application or interview. By researching employers you can truly distinguish yourself from other candidates who perhaps may not have taken similar action.

Useful resources for employer's research:

Company databases searchable by sector/industry and location:

▪ Business.com Business-oriented search engine
▪ EuroPages European business directory
▪ Kelly Search
▪ Kompass
▪ Jobs in Switzerland – qual.ch
▪ Telephone directories such as Yellow pages, Thomson Local and Scoot
▪ AnnualReports.com America's largest annual reports service
▪ Businessman Links to business news sites on the internet
▪ EDGAR US Securities and Exchange Commission website which gives free public access to US corporate financial information
▪ Fortune 500 for summary information on companies in the Fortune 500 list
▪ Hemscott financial information and annual reports of UK and US companies
▪ SCOTBIS The Scottish Business Information Service at the National Library of Scotland has the largest collection of business data in Scotland as well as an international collection of company and business data
▪ UK Company News Includes a directory of every major PLC in the UK
▪ Bankscope – a database of 27,600 banks worldwide
▪ Factiva - a Dow Jones & Reuters Company news resource covering more than 10,000 international business and news publications
▪ Global Insight - claims to provide the most comprehensive economic, financial, and political coverage of countries, regions, and industries available from any source
▪ Global Market Information Database (GMID) - award-winning online information resource providing business intelligence on industries, countries and consumers
▪ Datastream Advance – available on 3 PCs on Level 2 of the Library


Image Credits: bearvader at freedigitalphotos.net

Now Recruiting