Researching Potential Companies as a Job Applicant

Job Placement

So you’ve found the perfect job opening, scanned the job posting to confirm you meet minimum requirements, and are ready to apply for the role. Now what? Before you start rapid-firing off your resume, cover letter, and follow-up emails, take a moment to research the company you’re applying to. Researching before applying showcases a proactive attitude, helps familiarize you with the company’s values and provides talking points for interviews and introductory phone conversations. Start your dream job application off on the right foot by taking time to learn about the company you wish to work for.

Where to Research

Company Website

The best place to find current information on the company you want to work for is on the company’s webpage. Check out the “About Us” page and “Team” pages to familiarize yourself with the company’s history and leadership. Locate financial facts to assess company financial wellness by reviewing “For Investors” pages. Mentally snapshot culture-driven language mentioned on the website, including company values and standard practices. 

Most company websites are catered toward their target client audience, not their employees, so do your best to read between the lines to gauge company priorities. For example, a website that emphasizes high-quality workmanship likely prioritizes attention to detail amongst employees. A company that accentuates affordability may seek proactive, driven employees who work fast and stay competitive. Companies that highlight a strong commitment to safety are likely hiring individuals who value continued education and adherence to rules and regulations. A vast amount of valuable, company-specific information can be gleaned off a company’s website if you pay close attention and are willing to creatively interpret public company content.

Social Media

Social media is another great place to research a potential employer. Check for recent posts, events, and community interactions to assess how the company responds and engages with their audiences. LinkedIn provides featured updates on most company pages and often lists leadership team profiles so you can acquaint yourself with your potential boss (or bosses). Pay attention to which news stories they’re sharing (and therefore prioritize), which tone they take in their posts (casual or formal), and any new projects, staff, or software updates they share. Each post is a clue about the company’s focus, culture, and priorities – all invaluable information to have when applying to work with them.  

External Sources

While typically more opinion-based, external online sources like Glassdoor and The Muse can often be helpful when trying to learn more about a potential employer. Employees are invited to leave reviews and detail things like culture, salary, and work-life balance. These sites also provide important facts and figures like company size, headquarters location, average salary, and number of jobs both available and already held. Add these figures to your bundle of company information so you can best assess whether the role is a good fit for you. 

What to Research

Alignment with Your Professional Career Goals

The very first thing you want to check when researching potential employers is whether or not the company and role align with your career goals. As an example, let’s say one of your career goals is to land a management position 2-5 years after you start a job in a new career industry. You find what looks like the perfect entry position, but upon researching the company, you learn the entire leadership team consists of only 2 people, both of whom are owners of the company with little to no chance of resigning or leaving their position. Comparatively, you find a second job post with a similar entry-level position, but this company clearly communicates a strong upward growth model and clear language pertaining to management courses for employees and continued education. The second role sounds like a much better fit in this scenario!

The last thing anyone wants is to waste their time interviewing and pursuing a company that cannot further their career goals. Focus your research on goal alignment and workplace culture compatibility and you’ll reduce the risk of starting for a company that isn’t the right fit for you.  

Possible Interview Topics

Asking questions during an interview is one of the most important things you can do in the job application process. Questions show a sense of drive, passion, and interest in the job you’re hoping to get. Employers like to see a proactive attitude and appreciate when candidates take their time to get to know a little about the company prior to meeting for an interview. 

Start crafting possible interview questions and conversation topics while browsing the company’s website. Look for new client features, projects, or awards to ask about. Ask about any cultural highlights, such as any “earth-friendly, green-office” initiatives or employee appreciation events. Showcase your problem-solving abilities and how they directly relate to any publicly-shared challenges or barriers to the company’s success. Impress the employer side of the interview table by focusing on direct, well-researched relationship-building topics and questions aimed at improving both your lives, versus just your individual goals. 

Focal Points for Resume and Cover Letter

Your resume is a reflection of your power, potential, and alignment with the needs of the company you’re applying to. It’s imperative to tailor your resume and cover letter to the very specific requirements outlined in a role’s job description. Figuring out the best way to word your experience while hitting each skill set your potential employer is looking for can be tricky. This is why researching the company ahead of time really pays off.

Take your hard-earned research and use it to adjust your resume bullets so they follow the same priorities of the company you’re trying to work for. As an example, if you’re applying to a new teaching position that places high value on compassion, prioritize resume bullets about your sensitivity training or age-specific student mental wellness education. If a manufacturing company boasts efficiency over all other company values, highlight your ability to act quickly and detail examples of successfully thinking on your feet. What’s most important to you personally may not be a top priority for your employer; with careful research and a keen eye for resume compatibility, you can effectively align your skills with your potential employer’s most sought-after employee characteristics.   

Need some help incorporating your research into your resume and cover letter? Partner with Zoetic Resume and Writing Services and together we’ll create an eye-catching, custom-focused resume that showcases your strengths and aligns with your career goals. With years of industry-specific professional relationships and hiring knowledge under my belt, I provide expert feedback and knowledge about the best resume strategies to use when applying for your dream job. Don’t waste time submitting a resume you’re not proud of. Connect with Zoetic Resume and Writing Services here to explore my services and bring you one step closer to landing your dream job. 

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