And you thought your research days were over! In reality, if you are good at mining the mountains of information to find the nuggets of gold, it will pay off handsomely in your job search and in your future career! Consider the fact that your future career may lie with a company you have never heard of before. You will find that company through your research.
Utilizing your research skills can provide you with a nearly continuous flow of information to which others do not have access. Yet it is not enough just to find the information. You need to put it to work for you. For example, right now you are reading insider information that very few other college grads know about. Are you using all of this information to its fullest degree? Don't just read it and think to yourself, "That's interesting. I bet that would work." It will not work until you put it into action!
One critical aspect of job search preparation that can truly set you apart is employer research. Employer research is what brings you together and keeps you together with those who have the power and authority to offer you your first position.
Employer research serves a dual purpose. First, you need to identify and target specific hiring companies in your job search. Second, you need to gather detailed information about each target employer in order to be adequately prepared for making contact. That detailed information will then provide the foundation of a successful interview with that employer.
Sadly, many college students know little if anything about the employer they are contacting or interviewing. The quickest showstopper can come when you are asked (whether on the phone or in person), "What do you know about our company?" If you have not even taken the time to do this basic research, why should the hiring manager commit further time in an already busy schedule to speaking with you? Unfortunately, few college students are able to respond with even the industry basics. Strike one. Fewer still are able to articulate any information specific to the company. Strike two.
Yet it doesn't have to be that way. Employer information, even detailed information, is usually available for the basic price of some simple digging. It's out there waiting for you to discover it and bring it to the surface. The end of the interview is not the time or place to begin looking up employer information. If you are serious about your job search, do your best to acquire detailed employer information before you make contact with the company. It is those who are well informed from the start who consistently are given the opportunity for company-site interviews and eventual job offers.
Job search is a two-way street. Don't just go begging for any job. Doing detailed research on each potential employer will assist you in deciding which companies you may have an interest. And it will give you the ammunition you need to be successful in securing a job offer from the employer of your choice.
The source locations where employer information can be found include (in order of ease of access): the Internet, your Career Center, campus library, public library, and direct company contact.
Most Internet job sites are heavy on job postings (although few are actual entry level jobs), yet short on actual employer research. The following are the four sites to visit:
Listings of the top entry level employers in the U.S. and Canada, including projected number of entry level hires and intern hires, along with links to entry level, internship, and regular job postings for each employer.
D&B Hoovers will want to sell you a subscription, but there is still plenty of information you can find for free. Simply search for a company (employer), industry, or individual. You can find plenty of free information about employers (including general contact info, descriptions, and top competitors) and can often find titles of interviewers in advance of the interview. You will have to pay for the more detailed reports, but some general information is available for free. Hoovers also offers a free trial which will give you temporary access to many of the subscription only features. If you sign up, make the most of this resource while your trial is active by looking up as many employers as you can.
Glassdoor ranks employers with ratings from current and past employees, along with ratings of the current CEO. You can also get in-depth salary information provided by those already in the role. However, keep in mind that the salary info is typically for those with several years experience, so it may be overstating what that employer is paying at the entry level.
Yes, in the end, you still need to Google the employer. The first three links above will help you know who to research, but your in-depth research will be by Googling the employer. You will find their corporate page, but make sure you go beyond it to look at other published information about the employer, both the good and the bad.