The curious thing about researching a potential employer is how poorly most of us do it. I’ve been as guilty of this in the past as I suspect you may have been yourself; but in today’s job market, it’s downright critical.
When it comes to applying for work with a company, there is a wide spectrum of methods people employ to find out what an employer is all about. Many people do absolutely no research whatsoever. I have witnessed these people go up to a job board, take a job down and dash off an email attaching their resume; replace the job posting back on the board and continue to scour the board looking for another job to repeat the process.
Such people do no research on the employer; they don’t even keep track of the jobs or the employers to which they’ve applied. I overheard the phone calls they occasionally get from some employers where the job seeker at some point has to ask the person at the other end what company they represent and what the job is they are referencing. Having to ask this of the person on the phone sure doesn’t establish a great impression.
I’ve noticed in some recent job postings that companies are including a short snapshot of themselves; perhaps a paragraph or two, and they include a hyperlink to their website where the job seeker can learn more. If an organization goes so far as to include this, “learn more about us” feature, applicants would be wise to start their research with a click of the mouse.
How you look at researching an employer says a lot about whether or not you see any value in it and the extent to which you attach value will determine how much or how little research you actually do. While some do no research at all, others do plan to do a little bit of research, but only after a company actually grants them an interview. After all they reason, why put a lot of precious energy into researching a company who may not even call me in? And so they justify not doing much if any research at the application stage. What happens though if the employer calls and there’s a micro-interview right on the phone? No time to do research at that point. A phone interview is under way; the result of which will determine if a face-to-face interview is granted.
Look, have you ever taken a job and after only a few days you realize something isn’t to your liking? All the excitement of having a new job is replaced with “what have I got myself into?” You usually end up either quitting or getting dismissed because the fit is a bad one; even though you have the skills and qualifications to do the work itself. You can avoid this waste of their time and yours by doing some research into the company. Why I’ve even seen people accept an interview and then not bother to show up for the interview at all because – surprise, surprise, the company is located too far away from where they live and they refuse to do a long commute. “I had no idea they were at the other end of the city!” and I’m just thinking, “Really? You didn’t know?”
So here are some things you should look into for every job you apply to:
- Where it’s located?
- How you’d get there?
- The hours of work
- Salary range
- What you’d actually do
- Product(s) or service(s) produced
- Who products and services are made for
- Company name and reputation
Now I’ve kept this list short so that those of you who frown at the idea of any research as a lot of effort don’t feel overwhelmed. The 8 items above are usually easy to find out, and you can if you want make up a chart on paper or using MS Excel to capture this information for each job you apply to. This makes it easy to just add the information to pre-set columns instead of trying to remember each time what you should be finding out.
Knowing where you’d actually be expected to work could help you out big time. While the interview might be at the head office across the city, maybe the job itself is only a 10 minute walk from your front door. Looking into how you’d get to work might be impacted by your hours of work. Public transit doesn’t run 24/7 so if you rely on it, will you be able to get to and from work if the job is shift work? Oh and salary? You don’t want to take a job and learn you can’t live off the wages they pay.
Finding out what you’d actually do, instead presuming what you’d do could save you from feeling deceived or misled. Knowing the end-product or services, who their designed for and the company’s reputation is important so that you know what you’re getting into and with whom. If the company doesn’t pay employees on time or turnovers are frequent, you’ll appreciate knowing this so you can determine how much you’ll risk working for them.
If you don’t know how to go about doing research, ask the people who work where you find these job boards. They’ll either know or direct you to people who do.