Researching potential employers is vital to an effective job search. This 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, then when you are ready to apply, and finally when you’re interviewing and your knowledge of the company is put to the test.
How to research a company
- Look for companies that share your values.
- Research employee benefits the company provides.
- Learn about the company’s business operations.
- Research the company’s leadership.
- Expand your research to news and recent events.
- Ask your network for opinions.
- Scan the news headlines for red flags.
- Set aside the time necessary to research properly.
- Review related local news stories, forums and business journals.
- Understand the type of company you want to work for.
- Be strategic in how you share your research in an interview.
1. Look for companies that share your values
Other than pay and benefits, 43% of candidates say they are 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 and passions.
If you value social causes, diversity initiatives or innovation, choose a company that aligns with these. Indeed Company Pages offer detailed information on companies around the world. Read reviews from past and present employees covering areas like 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 see what others are saying about benefits there along with conversations on the hiring and interview process and company culture. You can even ask a question yourself. Also, review the Careers and About Us pages on a company’s website as well as their social media channels.
3. Learn about the company’s business operations
How does the company make money? Who buys their products or services and are they highly rated? Is the company a start-up, or if it’s been in business for a while, how has it grown over time? What industry is this company in? The answers to these questions will give you an idea of how stable this 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 the company 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. You can also consult resources like Crunchbase to learn about funding, mergers and acquisitions, as well as the competitive landscape.
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 its lead.
4. Research the company’s leadership
When a company captures your interest, you should get to know who is leading the way. Research the employees who hold respected positions within the company by reading the “About Us” page and employee bios on the company’s website. Seek out the social media profiles of executives and department directors—What are their posts like? Are they proud to represent the brand or work in this industry? Some company leaders may have been interviewed or written books and articles that give you 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 its competitors. Scanning customer forums and product reviews can also help you gauge a company’s or their products’ reputation.
6. Ask your network for opinions
Seek opinions from trusted, reliable friends and associates. 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. If you’re a recent college graduate building your network from scratch, ask university advisors for names of alumni working at your target companies. Consider reaching out to these people for a quick coffee.
7. Scan the news headlines 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 could also result in low employee morale and leave a volatile work environment in their wake. Proceed with caution.
8. Set aside the time necessary to research properly
It’s important to note that this research does take time. If it’s not possible for you to set aside several hours at one time, break it up into dedicated 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, here are a few final suggestions to help bring you back to your destination:
9. Review related local news stories, forums and business journals
If you’re interested in working for a smaller private company, you may have difficulty tracking down information online. Fortunately, there are thousands of media sources—including national and local news, trade publications, business journals, forums, and blogs—that provide articles and product reviews. Also, try your local Chamber of Commerce offices or the Better Business Bureau.
10. Understand the type of company you want to work for
If you’re a new college graduate or in a career transition, you may want to start by building a list of industries that best suit your knowledge, skills, and interests. The Bureau of Labor has compiled a comprehensive list of industries to start with. You can also explore Indeed’s Best Places to Work pages. Navigate by industry and company ratings to find a variety of organizations that will fit with your new goals.
11. Be strategic in how you share your research in an interview
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 aware 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 organization, preparing for interviews (especially the favorite “So tell us why do you want to work here?”), 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=3,843