Researching Employers

Job searchBefore you apply for a job, learn about the employer, company culture, position requirement, and advancement opportunities.  Understanding your target employer allows you to better shape your application, resume, cover letter, and online presence to stand out.  For instance, if you are applying for a position as a produce manager at Whole Foods, you may want to emphasize your commitment to sustainable agriculture in your cover letter and use a photo of you at a community garden on your public social media page.  For example, if you were applying for a job at Walmart, you might emphasize your skills in customer service and commitment to affordable products.

Employer research on Social Media

You can learn about employers by visiting their social media accounts, reading the company’s websites and searching for relevant news articles.  You can also learn a lot about a company’s culture by reading the tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts of their employees.  Frost (n.d.) walks you through steps for finding a company’s employees on Instagram. A similar methodology can be used on other social media accounts.

LinkedIn has over 150,000 company pages that provide information about operations, employees, locations, and available jobs.  Using this information, you can learn about companies and see how you are connected to company insiders.

If you get an interview, employer research is even more important.  Showing hiring managers you are aware of the company’s overall mission, new growth areas, and community service initiatives demonstrates an understanding and interest in the position and company.  It also can help you anticipate some of the interview questions, such as how your skills and passions fit with the company, where you see yourself professionally in five years, or why you were attracted to the position in the first place.  Below, are some questions to guide your employer research:

  • Learn about the company
    • What is the company’s mission statement or core values?
    • What are the company goals?
    • What products or services does the company provide?
    • Who are the primary customers of the company?
    • What do people say about the company?
    • What makes the company unique in comparison to competitors?
    • Where is this company located (at a corporate and outlet level)?
    • Why does this company appeal to me?
  • Learn about employment opportunities at this company
    • What positions are available in your preferred location?
    • What education or background is required for each position?
    • What skills are required for each positions?
    • What are the opportunities for advancement?
    • What is the process for applying for positions at the company?

Once you have done all this great research, take some time to integrate the information you have found into your resume, cover letter, and online proof of performance.  Elevate your resume by using key industry words and recognized job titles to highlight skills and experience (see Keyword Optimization).  Describe how the company appeals to you in a cover letter. Develop personal statements and online documents that align with core company values.  Show recruiters that you are genuinely interested in the company and position.   And celebrate…landing a great job.