The Third Best Source of Employer Information

Although the above-noted documents can provide you with very detailed information, they are usually available only from larger companies. Yet nearly every organization has a third type of information that can assist you in your job search: marketing information. Nearly every company posts this information publicly on the Internet for prospective customers. Just go to the company's homepage, then click on "Products" or "Services" to find out more. If it's not there, either go to "About Us" or the site map. This "brochureware" is almost always the first information that any company puts on the Web.

If you're unable to find the information on the company's Web site, call the company directly, ask for the Marketing Department, then ask if they would please send out some general marketing information about the company and its product line. Marketing people are usually more than happy to assist anyone who wants to know more about their company.

Don't wait until the first interview to find out about the company. If you do, you may not get a second chance (or second interview).

Why product information? Because most entry level interviewees are woefully ignorant of what a company actually "does for a living." For example, everyone knows what Google does, right? Internet search? Is that it? When you look in depth, the actual breadth of products and services under development may surprise you. Same thing with Amazon. "I buy stuff at Amazon." OK, but there is much more to Amazon than its online retail operations. You need to do your research.

Remember, the Marketing Department is the one department "authorized to blab" about the company. The information you are given from this department can often be quite comprehensive and available through no other source. If you find a friend within the Marketing Department, even one who will talk with you for just a few minutes about the company, you have found a true gem.

An excellent question to ask a marketing person is:

"What gives your company its competitive edge in the marketplace?"

Most marketing people are well prepared for the question—they answer it every day, either directly or indirectly, with their customers. Let them know that you are potentially a "future customer" of the Marketing Department by virtue of your prospect for the interview. Let them know that if you do eventually get the job, you will do your best to support their department and their product line.

Astute marketers will understand that any customer, external or internal (even those who may be nothing more than "potentially future internal"), is a valuable resource to be cultivated. They will usually be more than happy to assist.