Five tips for researching your prospective employer

When it comes to progressing your career, finding the job you want online and clicking the ‘submit your CV’ link is the easy part. However, once this is done, or even before it’s done, smart candidates spend some time researching their prospective employer. Should their application get to the next stage, they are ready. This preparation time will pay off. Putting you in a stronger position to ask specific questions during the interview and selection process.

Here are a few tips to help you have the crucial facts to hand.

1. Review the company website

Look at the information – what does it tell you about the company, their business objectives and their purpose? Generally a website will provide useful information about the organisation including what they do, their overall mission, their corporate values and often profiles of the people who work for the company.

2. Monitor their social media and news

Many companies use social media to talk about their business which gives you a great opportunity to keep up to date with what is happening in an organisation.

Depending on the size of the business, this could be sales and marketing focused, but often it can help you identify key trends or factors influencing their activities. Look on all the social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and the company section on LinkedIn. You may even have the name of your interviewer to research, too. Sign up to their newsfeeds and look at the headlines in the newspapers for current information about them. If they are a PLC look at the performance of their share price.

3. Talk to the recruitment agencies

If the role was advertised by a recruitment agency, take some time to contact them. Try to reach the recruitment consultant who is managing the vacancy and talk to them about both the role and the company. Find out as much as possible about the company from them, the structure, the culture and the size, for example.

4. Discuss with your network

Is there anyone in your network of friends, family, work and business contacts who works for the organisation you’re applying to? You could obtain some inside information about what it is like to work for the business, so find out anything your contact may be able to tell you about the organisation and how it works. Do they have any insights into any key business challenges they are facing? Is there anything that may deepen your understanding of what the company does and how they do it?  Even if you can’t find someone who works for the company in your network, if you can find someone who does a similar role somewhere else you could still gain valuable insight.

5. Look at the organisation’s competitors

Investigate the key competitors of the organisation you’re applying to. Large and small companies all have competitors they are trying to outdo or keep up with – if you can show an awareness of that, you will demonstrate a good understanding of the industry in which the organisation is operating.

Investing this time in early research is not just about you building up your knowledge of the organisation for interview, it’s also about finding out whether the job and the organisation are really for you. Does it match your values and your personal career objectives? Try to imagine yourself working for the organisation.  Do the job and the business tick the boxes you are looking for and is it a place where you are likely to excel and reach your potential?

We have seen people lose out on their perfect job by not finding out enough information up-front and others who landed the job and then three days in knew the company was not the right place for them. If you do the research you’ll reduce your chances of making this mistake.

The message is simple, do your homework, spend time investigating before you even step foot in the interview room and prepare your questions for your interviewer – an interview is no longer a one-sided conversation, your CV is a precious and you don’t want to damage it by making the wrong decision.

Useful research websites packed full of insider information on over 30,000 companies full of company profiles and individual professional career profiles

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