Over the decades the dynamics of job hunting has changed, no longer is looking for job as simple as filling out an application. As the competition for available jobs has increased with the up and down statistics of unemployment, it is often more challenging for applicants to try and find ways stand out and make a lasting impression.

People who are looking to land a position, either in general or in a specific market niche, are wise to carefully research companies before applying.

There are three primary reasons for doing this, the first is to learn whether or not you feel the company is a good fit for your personality, skills and knowledge. Secondly, is to provide yourself with a competitive edge amongst other job candidates. And third, these days it’s pretty much expected by employers that applicants will have done their proverbial homework before applying, or at least before being interviewed.

Employers are looking for people who are passionate and would be a good fit for their organizations, they are typically not nearly as interested in applicants who randomly applied for the job.

hand flicking away a person
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An applicant who does not demonstrate even a slight bit of knowledge in a company in the interview can lead to an employer dismissing his or her application. Best to be well-versed and informed before speaking with a potential employer.

There are many different ways applicants can research a company before applying or potentially being called for an interview:

Explore Company Website

The company website is of significant importance and one of the first places an applicant should look towards when beginning his or her research. As a person interested in working for company or other organization, it is of tangible value to learn all you can about it, how it operates and then compare these against other companies you are considering applying to.

These days there is a high probability a prospective employer will ask direct questions to see how much an applicant knows about the organization and whether or not he or she is just fishing for a job to get any old job. Ideally, employers are looking for people to become dedicated members of the organization. How you perform at the interview will be at the heart of whether or not the meeting is a success.

Job chances
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Read the Company Profile

While the business website is very useful in learning about operations and other objectives, reading the actual company profile is also valuable time spent.  As an applicant, you can learn a bit about the history of the company and its primary goals and objectives. It is also helpful to read the company's mission statement.

Being armed with this information will help you decide if the company if a good match post-interview, and also will prove to be valuable when an interviewer presents you with questions during the meeting. Possessing the ability to interject knowledge about the specifics of the company, rather than just general answers, will be far more impressive and may provide a competitive edge.

Follow the Organization’s Social Media Presence

Both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations often have a strong social media presence. Not only does this provide with more insight with more details for the company, it also can highlight many other things.

  • It can show you how active and interested they are with the public
  • You can read the tone of what the posting. Are these friendly, informative and engaging? Or are they apathetic or even cold?
  • You can learn of any new innovations, initiatives or other organizational news that has been shared on social media. Demonstrating your knowledge of what the organization is doing is current could score you some big points

Looking at postings can glean insight as to whether or not the organization will be a positive one to work in. Social media can offer a lot of information - but always remember, the organization will be searching you too - be sure your profiles are "clean" and keep tabs on your own social media and overall Internet reputation.

Routinely Read Industry News

Reading industry news is a good step to take prior to a job interview. If the company is a large one, it will more than likely be a frequent topic in the news, but if not, this step is still of value. Often reading publications and/or newspapers which showcase events and trends in the industry is an ideal way to familiarize yourself with not only the company, but the overall market.

This knowledge can help empower you during the interview to have some vital input and natural instinct in how to answer specific questions which relate to the job; it can also demonstrate your ability to answer questions on the fly in regards to the company's objectives.

Search the Web

Doing a general search on the web can also prove to be useful. Read blogs, entries, customer reviews and all other types of content which can provide details about an organization. This can illuminate whether or not a company has ethical issues embedded in the foundation and whether or not it is really a place you want to work.

Or, it can enlighten you to good things the company is doing. And, perhaps even whether or not you see room for improvement in various areas of the business.  Employers want to hire people who can offer solutions and if you possess the right knowledge and can match your expertise to a known problem the employer wants to solve, even better. (Be careful of how you approach this though. Potential solutions is something you might want to wait for the employer to bring up first, don't jump in criticizing. If challenges the organization faces aren't brought up by the interviewer, you could lean towards a discussion at the time when the employer asks you if you have any questions. You could ask if there are any challenges the company faces, etc.)

Google search
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Google is just one tool of many you should use when researching a company.  (Also expect potential employers are searching you out too). Have you looked at your own Internet reputation?

Researching a company prior to a job interview is a worth the effort in time. Not only will the knowledge attained increase confidence in answering questions, but may also give the employer insight as to your level of tenacity, often viewed as an admirable trait, especially in competitive businesses. Doing research nowadays is expected by employers, they want to see applicants have at least a basic understanding of the business, but taking this a step further can also help you land the job.


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