Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Your Homework

Researching Employers

by Alicia Bervine, Anne Orange, and Jennifer Whetstone-Jackson
Researching employers is perhaps the single-most important activity you will undertake in your job search. The information you uncover can help you:
  • Discover organizations that are a good match for you,
  • Identify the organization’s goals and needs,
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your skills and experiences that match the employer’s needs,
  • Know what questions to ask employers,
  • Demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for the organization,
  • Answer interview questions with confidence, and
  • Make an informed employment decision.

Unfortunately, many students overlook the importance of research when undertaking a job search or looking for an internship. In fact, it’s common for employers to complain that potential job candidates haven’t “done their homework,” and instead come into the interview with little or no knowledge about the organization. These candidates flounder, asking questions that could be easily answered by a cursory look at the company website or literature. Needless to say, they make a poor impression, because employers often assume lack of research means lack of interest.

Where should you begin?

Start by developing a list of organizations in which you might be interested—companies that have the types of jobs or do the type of work that interests you. These could be organizations that visit your campus for career fairs, information sessions, and interviews, or they might be companies you have identified on your own as potential employers. An added bonus: You may discover lesser-known organizations that might be a match for your skills and interests. (Having a problem with this step? Talk with a career counselor in your campus career center for direction.)
Research companies to obtain information in each of the following categories:
  • Organizational overview: age, size, financial outlook, growth, and structure
  • Trends/issues in the industry
  • Mission, philosophy, objectives
  • Public or private or foreign-owned
  • Location of plants, offices, stores, subsidiaries
  • Products and/or services
  • Names of key executives
  • Competitors
  • Sales, assets, earnings
  • Growth history and current growth activity
  • Current challenges
  • Major achievements and activity, issues, news
  • Career paths, training, benefits
  • Company culture
Alicia Bervine is Program Manager, College of Arts & Sciences; Anne Orange is Career Librarian; and Jennifer Whetstone-Jackson is Program Manager, College of Engineering & Computing, at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

No comments: