How to: Research a Job/Company

Nothing impresses a potential employer more than candidates who’ve done their homework.

How to: Research a Job/Company

Nothing impresses a potential employer more than candidates who've done their homework. You may also have been offered a job, but be uncertain about whether to accept it and want to find out more. Here's what you can do...

Social media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Company profiles on LinkedIn can be useful sources of information - you may be able to see connections you have with the company, any jobs they're posting, recruitment activity, etc. Plus, if you know the name of the person who is interviewing you, you can look them up on LinkedIn and other social networking sites. Sometimes on LinkedIn, the person you are researching may check who's viewed their profile - don't worry, seeing that you've done so is no bad thing. Also be very, very aware that they may well do the same to you, so make sure that what they see on Facebook and other sites will leave a good impression.

Also check out the company's activities on Facebook and Twitter. What do people say about them and how do they respond? What sort of content do they publish and who do you think they want to engage with? Become a fan of the company on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

Company blogs

Company blogs can be a good way to understand the priorities of a business. They can give you insight into what they want people to think about them and their culture. You might also be able to find blogs written by employees and ex-employees - this can give you real insight into a company, warts and all. But be very careful about how you use such information, especially during an interview.

News sites and publications

If you're interested in a local employer, researching the local media is a must. Some areas have business news sites such as www.thebusinessdesk.com. Many local newspapers have online editions that carry company news, especially regional papers or papers that cover larger towns and cities. You can also set up a Google news alert to feed you current news about a specific company. There are also sites that list the best companies to work for - again these can be national or regional.

Leverage your connections

These can be online or in the 'real' world. Do you know anyone else who works there? Does a friend of a friend. If you so, get an introduction and ask them for any tips they could give on getting a job there. Don't be afraid of seeking out people you know or have a connection with and asking for advice.

And finally, don't forget the company's website...

Don't forget to have a really good look through the company's website. A quick glance is not sufficient - read the 'About us' section thoroughly, check out the news and careers sections. Download and read their annual report or interim results. If the site is an e-commerce site and it's not obvious where to find company information, scroll to the very bottom of the page where you'll often find a link to more corporate information.