So you’re out of work and looking for a new job. Perhaps not out of work, but definitely in the market for a fresh start with a new employer. No wait, in your case you’re happy with the company you work for, just need a change in positions and departments. In any of the above, you’d best conduct a little research.
Now just as there are a large number of people who are looking for employment, there is a large variance in how those people go about job searching and conducting research. Let’s be honest shall we? Some people see a job posted, read the requirements and the, “How to apply” section and fire off their resume; that’s it. No research at all – can’t be bothered.
There are also those who conduct no research at all and also just fire off their resume to an employer, but the reason they don’t research is because they lack the skills and the know-how. These people might be convinced to do a little bit of research if shown how and why, but without that being imparted to them, they cannot be expected to just figure it out on their own.
Then of course you have the majority of people who know the importance of conducting research when job searching, but the message they have heard has been limited to looking into the company. So they browse websites and get the information the company wants casual researchers to hear and see. The messages are scripted, fine-tuned, marketed for maximum impact and your new knowledge is entirely what the company pushes out. So you’ll get their vision, ideology, goals, mission statements and the like.
One thing all companies share is they employee people; no matter its size, sector or location. Imagine you could have a conversation with one or more of the people who work for the company you are interested in applying to. Imagine too that the person you were chatting with is currently doing the work you yourself are interested in, or possibly supervises and hires the people doing the work you’d like to do.
What might you get out such a conversation? For starters, remove the content of the conversation. Surely you’d get a sense of the person’s happiness in their work, satisfaction with the company and from their body language you’d pick up on the stress they are under or the impact of the job and the atmosphere of the facility is having on them. Now add the content and details of what they share with you and you’ll be getting much more valuable information than you’d ever get out of just looking at a job posting on a computer screen or job board.
So here’s a question for you. Do you enjoy talking about your kids? Does that sense of pride come out? And if you don’t have children how about something else you are proud of? For many employers and employees, they too like to talk about the things they are proud of – the company they work for or own, the work they do. So it could be that while you are worrying about wasting someone’s time, those people might just be more than happy to talk about their jobs, the work they do, their accomplishments and yes even their challenges.
Now if you could have this kind of information prior to applying for a job or being interviewed, can you see the advantage you would have over another applicant who only read the information on the website or did zero research?
Some websites give you names and titles of their key employees that head up departments plus their personal contact information. Some social media platforms are great sources of information on the people that work there such as LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you can search a company and the people who work there. Filter your search by location and in a few simple clicks you’ve got your own directory of the people you might be wise to talk with to get some personal insights into the company and the position you are applying to.
Now surely they won’t talk to you the doubter in you says. After all, they can’t speak to 300 people who are applying for this job? You’re right of course. However of 300 applicants, most just apply without initiating any contact for a chat. Only a few actually take the initiative to do a little digging and have the assertiveness to call and request 15-20 minutes time to chat.
Now this isn’t anything new. Long before computers and technology there was the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” People have always been advised to make contact, initiate a conversation (information gathering interview). With the rise of social media, tweeting, texting, chatting, emailing, skyping, posting, etc., the irony is that many of those same people lack the interpersonal skills to actually communicate with people using their voice and their ears!
What have you got to lose by initiating contact, asking to meet or talk for 15 minutes? If they say no, you thank them and try someone else. The potential return is you get someone who is happy to pass on their enthusiasm for their work and their employer and maybe the ups and downs of the job from their point of view.
When you apply or get interviewed, your research will show your real interest – or lack of it for the job you are applying to.