Why and How should I Research a Company?

Before the Job Search:

Whether the boss is getting cranky, opportunities for growth within the company are stagnating, or you are just ready for a change, before you wade into the job-search pool, you need to evaluate where you are at and establish goals for where you want to go.
• Why do you want to leave and what types of changes are important to you?
• Are you simply looking for a few years gaining new experience before moving on or are you ready for longer-term stability?
Once you have a clear-cut plan and specific goals, it’s time to research companies. This will help you focus on the right companies, instead of spending time courting a company whose culture is a poor fit for you or whose openings aren’t actually aligned with your skills. Create a list of potential companies who are in the market for new hires, and then:

Read annual reports or check out the company’s profile on sites like Hoover’s Online, Crunchbase, and Vault to investigate their financial health. Pay attention to new products, company risks, funding, acquisitions, and recent hires or layoffs. You can usually tell whether a company is sinking, growing, or holding its own.

Check out relevant press coverage. Reading between the lines can tell you a lot about a company’s core values. Are they involved in charitable events within their community? Do they receive positive or negative press in general?

Decipher their social media. Read their website, blog, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and Twitter. Read what other people are saying about them in comment boxes and on their reviews. If you know someone who is connected to the company, or can make a connection through a mutual acquaintance, ask them about the company in general. All of these sources will help you get a clear picture of the company’s culture.

When you have an interview:

You narrowed your search and won an interview. Now it is time to dig deeper and more specifically. Knowing as much as you can about the overall financial picture, company values, and company culture will help you not only to give solid answers at the interview, but also to ask pertinent questions.

Find out what’s happening right now within the doors, in the boardroom, and on the trading floor to gain more than a general understanding of their financial health.
• Who are their competitors and how does their status compare?
• What are the company’s strong, and weak, points?
• What are specific indicators of financial stability?
• What is their growth pattern over the last year? Five years?

Check news stories for specific actions the company has recently taken that exhibit their core values.
• What is their general reputation as an employer, in customer service, and among similar companies?
• Do they promote within the company when appropriate?
• What clues can you decipher from reading comments or reviews and the company’s response to said comments and reviews?
• Are there specific ways that demonstrate how the company’s core values align with yours? (Be prepared to use this in the interview as an example how you will be an asset to the company or as an example of why you want to work there.)

Re-examine social media pages – Facebook, twitter, etc. for additional insight and connections. You already read the company’s social media contacts. Now go to the company page that highlights their key management people. Check out the LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. on these key people. Researching their online presence will enhance the accuracy of your vision of the company’s culture.
• Can you read the company profile of the person who will be interviewing you?
• Were there any human-interest stories about employees on their website? What they post on their site is a good indication of the company’s culture.
• What types of articles do they post on their blog? The content can usually give you an understanding of the company’s culture.
Once again, look for mutual connections. Don’t be afraid to ask these connections for background on company personnel – especially on those who will be involved in our interview.

Taking the time to research companies to narrow your list and then specific companies with whom you have an interview will reap rewards. It may not only save you from making a job change you soon regret, but also will help you win the position that takes your career a giant step forward.

Are you researching companies in the Portland and Bangor, Maine area? Contact Springborn Staffing. We will help you narrow your choices for effective searching, win the interview, and win the job that matches you with a financially sound company whose core values and culture fit yours.

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