How To Research Employers

Really understanding a company before you apply to work there will be what sets you apart from your competitors. Not only will research help you to prepare insightful questions and answers should you meet your prospective employer for an interview, it will allow you to get a proper sense of whether you genuinely want to work for them at all.

So, before rushing into any graduate job application, make sure you read these handy pointers for researching companies, outlining all the things you ought to know before putting yourself forward for the job.

1. Start at the source

Make sure you know at least the most basic facts about their company.

● When were they founded?
● Who by?
● What product or service do they provide and how do they do it?

Learning the fundamentals should be the starting point of your research. The who, what, where, when, and how is paramount to the company’s existence, so be completely certain of these things before applying. You will most likely source this information on the company website in the ‘About Us’ section, in which most businesses will summarise their key credentials for potential clients and customers. However, if you feel the website is too vague, don’t be afraid to contact their HR department and dig a little deeper. (Politely of course!)

As mentioned in our Interview Tips series, one of the most common things you will be asked to do is tell the person what you know about the company. Being able to give a comprehensive but concise breakdown of the enterprise is therefore essential to the success of your interview. Don’t fall at the first hurdle!

2. Consider the company ethos

As you familiarise yourself with the company, you should begin to get a feel for their overriding culture and philosophy. In gaining a proper sense of this, you can adequately tailor your application to reflect their values and so present yourself as a like-minded individual who will fit in well with the team.

You are best consulting the main website again for this information, as this is where most companies will explicitly discuss their working environment and ethos, quite often summarised by a mission statement. A mission statement functions as a distilled version of the company’s commercial, financial and social goals and will give you a clear sense of their culture and core values. Referencing this in your cover letter is a good way to show that you have noticed what’s important to them and that you concur with the cause. However, try to avoid simply regurgitating the statement; putting it into your own words shows that you've actually thought about it and understood it on your own terms.

It is at this stage in your research where you should pause to consider whether the company’s core values honestly align with your own. Could you sincerely endorse and promote the product or service that they provide? If the answer is yes, stress this at your interview. Show that you genuinely believe in their vision and you’re more likely to convince them that you will work hard to see it realised.

3. Research around the company

It’s all very well knowing the basics, but you will have to investigate further to really impress them. Try and uncover as much about the business as it stands NOW. Things to consider:

● What have they achieved recently?
● Where do they rank in the market place?
● Who are their main competitors?
● What was their annual turnover last year?

Current statistics, facts and figures are powerful weapons to have in your interview arsenal; they convey your ability to decode data and interpret what it means in a real sense for their business, not forgetting the initiative you have taken to find it out in the first place.

By this point, you’re probably sick of the sight of the company website, but hold fast, your last stop is the ‘Press’ section. It's here that you will find any recent articles detailing achievements/changes/challenges that relate directly to the business. Simply typing the company name into Google will also bring up press releases, and reputable news and media sites like The Financial Times Online provide useful insight into different companies and industries as a whole.

Being abreast of current industry trends or issues that might affect the organisation directly will allow you to speak confidently and convincingly during the application process, making it much easier for them to envisage you as their employee, as opposed to someone they would have to start from scratch with.

Don't forget, a great place to start researching companies is on GradTouch's specially crafted mini sites. Choose a job category that interests you and you'll find comprehensive backgrounds on most companies on the site!

Hey, wouldn't it be really handy if you had all this info summarised on a free downloadable cheat sheet? Good news job hunters; this is your lucky day! Enjoy: 

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