Why spend time on company research? There are several good reasons why it's worth investigating companies. First of all, spending some time looking for and at employers will give you an idea of what companies are in your industries and fields of choice. You will be able to determine which companies are hiring and what types of job openings they have. If you're interviewing, you will be able to find out everything you need to know about the company before you sit down for an interview. In addition, you will be a well-prepared candidate for the job.
Focus on your industry - or on your area of interest and expertise.
Spend some of your valuable company research time investigating the needs and benefits of organizations in your industry that appear to offer the world. Do they specifically need people in your field? Or are they generalizing to, as they say, "cherry pick the workforce." You don't want to find yourself welcomed one day and then laid off six months later. If you can, talk to people who work there to determine whether it's a place you want to work, and if they would really appreciate your particular skills.
Preparing for an interview is another reason to research employers. You'll want to know as much about your potential employer as possible. Standard interview questions are "what do you know about us" and "why do you want to work here." Research will enable you to have the right response - and the right questions, remember: "an interview is a dialogue."
Then use directories which will help you find those companies.
You can search Hoover's Online by company name or keyword. Big Book Yellow Pages allows you to search by business name, category or location. Vault and WetFeet offer job seekers an in-depth look inside some of the hottest industries. They also provide career advice and company and industry profiles.
If you're interested in big business you can browse the Fortune 500 top companies list. Then take a look at the snapshot for company details, revenues and contact information. Fortune provides similar lists for the 100 Fastest Growing Companies and the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
This is a sampling of some of the information you might want to know about each company/organization prior to an interview:
- Date founded
- Size/Branch locations
- Job titles/typical salaries
- Corporate culture
- Typical career path
- Current events/recent news
- Key people
Time for the Resume and cover letter
After researching the company(s) you have narrowed down, you should have also found in your research the names of the real hiring managers, and it is to them you focus you cover letter and Resume efforts. By-pass HR and mail the Resume and a cover letter you have written just for this hiring official, and addressed to them personally at the place where they work. (See Resumes and cover letter modules in this program). Follow up in one week with a personal phone call, not more than two-minutes in length, to verify they received your material. At that point you are being interviewed, believe it or not.
Do some soul-searching to decide what you really want to do.
Then find the company in your area that you feel is doing it the best.
- The company needs to be near you already. If you don't live near them, move there first, or choose a closer company. Do not do this remotely.
- Focus on one company
- It doesn't matter if they're not hiring.
- Learn all about them. Read every page of their website. Become a customer. Read every article about them. Study and memorize this info. (This only takes a few hours, and is a much better use of your time than blasting resumes.)
- If you don't really want to work for this company, pick a different company and do this section again.
- Tell them how much you want to work for them
- Start contacting them to tell them how much you want to work for them.
- It doesn't matter who you speak to first. Start with anyone. Just start.
- Tell them, (in your own way), “You are my favorite company. It's my dream to work for you. If you have any aspect that could use a little help, let me do it, and I promise you it'll thrive. I'm that passionate about this.”
- Eventually, contact different people in the company, especially the executives, not just human resources.
- Ideally, you could be more specific, telling them ways you could improve one of their projects, services, or products.
- Be persistent (though succinct)
- Combine phone, email, and in-person. You must use all three methods, since each has its strengths.
- Always be succinct. Don't take more than two minutes of their time. But always show your passion, and how much you can help them.
- Vary your message. Sometimes ask advice. Sometimes give advice. But always make it clear how much you want to work there.
- Do this every week. It's OK to be almost annoying. Polite manners don't prove passion.
- Do this until hired.
- Eventually they will be hiring, and they'd be damn foolish not to hire you.
- Especially when faced with the alternative of opening up the floodgates to help-wanted ads, they'll much rather go with this person who has persistently proven their passion.
- Could do this with a few companies at once
- If there are sincerely a few different companies you would love to work for, and you have the time, consider doing this process for a few companies at once.
- P.S. For further inspiration, read how Tom Williams got hired by Apple at 14, using this method. [sivers.org]
Employers expect you to know about their industry, their organization, the position for which you are applying and even something about the interviewer and his/her position. They expect you to demonstrate this knowledge in cover letters and other correspondence as well as during the interview. Particularly before an interview, it is crucial to have acquired adequate background knowledge of the organization. This will help you to be better prepared for the interview and give you the edge necessary to win the job.
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