How to research a potential new employer on the Web

You’ve scoured the job postings, revised your resume dozens of times, and composed cover letters that will impress even the most skeptical recruiter and hiring manager. If all your hard work pays off with an invitation to interview, don’t squander the opportunity by failing to learn about your potential new employer before you get there. Researching a company requires more than reading the job description and looking them up in the phonebook to find out what they do. If you really want to knock their socks off, you need to go the extra mile; that’s what it takes today to separate yourself from other potential candidates.

Point and Click
Virtually all companies now have websites. I am sure the companies you’ve applied to have them as well and hopefully they’re informative and easy to navigate. Look for the obvious, such as what they do and who they serve, but dive in and see if you can find out more. A good website probably includes:
• A mission statement which captures the philosophy of the company
• A description of the company’s expertise
• A description or listing of the company’s primary products and services and key staff members
• Advertising, press releases, or statements regarding the company’s new product launches or joint ventures
• Current and archived newsletters and blogs. These can be a rich source of information you could not find elsewhere. Be sure to read these and use the information in your interview.

Dig, Dig, Dig
Some companies include separate areas for their corporate information as well as links to those areas aren’t always obvious. Occasionally, they even maintain a separate site which keeps their company information separate from their consumer-facing sites. Look for small links which often sit at the top or bottom of their webpages, and check search engine results to see if more than one URL shows up relative to the company you’re researching. You may be able to dig up more details which can help further your knowledge and understanding of a company, such as:
• The size of the company and its organizational culture
• Annual reports
• A history of how and why the company was formed, including biographies of its owners or founders

Once you’ve gleaned what you need from their own information, effective searching can really help you develop a bigger picture of the overall industry in which the company fits. Familiarize yourself with key events, legislation, competitors, or issues which may currently affect the company. Your questions or statements about such topics during an interview will demonstrate that you’ve really done your research and will hopefully leave the kind of impression that gives you an edge over others and ultimately gets you the job.

Good Luck!
David Lammert

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