How do you research companies you want to work for?

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A job search requires perseverance and exposure to companies of interest.  You can pick up the phone, call companies, cross your fingers and hope for the best OR you could do some research, get the right people on the phone and dazzle them with your experience.  How do you research companies?

In order to decide “Who” will help you find your dream job, let’s start with how to do the research.  Before you begin researching specific companies, you need to think about the following:

  • Am I interested in a specific industry?
  • What size company do I want to work for?
  • Am I willing to relocate or do I want to remain local?  How far am I willing to drive?
  • Are there options that are “outside the box”? (For example, when thinking of where to find a Nursing job, most people think of hospitals or nursing homes but what about insurance companies? Someone with a medical background needs to review medical records to decide if claims are eligible.  Many nurses get hired into these jobs.)

How to Research a Company You Want to Work for

Once you have decided the qualities that you are looking for in an employer, now you need to find out the companies in your targeted location.  In order to do this, use Internet resources such as:

  • Fortunes List of the Top 100 companies to work for
  • Best Places to Work list
  • Specific company websites (in particular, review the News link on the company’s site.  It will outline the latest note worthy news on the company and will impress the employer that you are up to date on company events)
  • General newspaper sites such as PUNCH and VANGURAD & THE NATION.  Review these to see if there is any news on the companies of interest to you (For more details, see Article on How To Be Better At Job Hunting Via Local News Paper)
  • Diversity sites that award companies for certain cultural activities such as the Best Places for Working Mothers or Best Places for Hispanic workers etc….  These sites will help you understand the values and culture of the companies of interest.
  • Local Chamber of Commerce: Feel free to call the local chamber of commerce and see if they can provide you with any information on the company of interest
  • Financial Resources: These resources are a great way to find out the financial viability of the companies of interest.  Examples of great financial resources supervised by the Central Bank of Nigeria include:
  1. Bureaux-de-Change (BDCs)
  2. Commercial Banks
  3. Development Finance Institutions (DFI’s)
  4. Discount Houses
  5. Finance Companies (FCs)
  6. Merchant Banks
  7. Micro-finance Banks (MFBs)
  8. Non-Interest Banks
  9. Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs)
  •  Internal Resources: If you know anyone who works at the company, call them.  Ask as many questions as you can.  Feedback from internal employees can be very valuable.

I ALWAYS recommend checking at least one financial resource on a company.  A few years ago, my friend, George, was called by a search firm about a job.  The search firm provided my friend with a packet of information on the company.  He read all of the information provided, but did not do any additional research.  He called me VERY excited because he was offered the job.  I congratulated him but the company name sounded familiar for some reason.  My intuition told me something was wrong so I decided to quickly do some financial research.  I was right.  The company was in serious trouble with the SEC.  Ultimately, George did NOT accept the offer and the company closed within 5 months.  Research saved the day!!!

Based on the results of these resources, make a list of companies of interest to you.  (I would recommend at least 25 to 50 companies but this is my personal preference). Now you are ready for the next step.  (There is more!)

Let’s face it; although Internet research is very valuable, if you don’t know the right contacts inside the company, your hard work could potentially be pointless.  So “Who are you going to call?”

As a result, I recommend taking it to the next level by calling each company (the main number will work) and ask the following:

  • “Who is in charge of (Fill in the Blank with your Department of Interest such as Finance, Accounting, Logistics, IT, Manufacturing etc…)?
  • May I please be connected to that individual’s Administrative Assistant?”  (That’s right, their Administrative Assistant!!!  NEVER ignore the value of an Administrative Assistant in any company.  They know EVERYTHING and have the power to ensure that you get in front of the right person.)

Once you get the Administrative Assistant on the phone, introduce yourself and give your brief elevator speech(See Article on How to Write an Elevator Speech for more details) and then ask, “Can you help me identify the best person internally for me to network with in order to learn more about your company?”  (As a side note, I used this technique in my recent job search and all but ONE of the individuals that I spoke with gave me a name and number of someone on the HR team.)

As you make these calls, create a spreadsheet containing company name, contact name, email and phone number and a few basic facts on each company.

research the company

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Before hanging up, graciously request that they send you any additional company information that cannot be easily found on their website such as a company newsletter, a hard copy of the latest annual report or any other interesting facts.  (Every time, I would receive a packet in the email that was 3 inches thick — full of VALUABLE information. Yes, this takes some work but it is WORTH it!!!). This may seem unnecessary but a quick review of the information can lead to you finding a fact that you can use to your advantage.

(Please note; if you were recently laid off and offered outplacement, quite often your outplacement firm can provide you with this information.)

Additionally, working in HR, over the last 20 years, if I had a dollar for every time that a hiring manager said, “It was pretty clear that they did not do any real research on the company.  A simple Internet search or reading our website does not cut it.”  Consistently, none of the candidates who did limited research were hired.  100% of the time, the candidates who went the extra mile in their research got HIRED.  Again, it is some work but it will work FOR YOU in your job search.

Please note: these are the top companies that you are targeting in your job search.  This does not mean that you are limited to ONLY these companies.  Feel free to continue to use major job search sites to find job listings and to apply to those listings.

Once you have your list of companies with relevant contact information, start calling the contacts!!!  You are on your way to finding your dream job!

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