How to Research an Employer
The more information you have about a prospective employer and industry, the better prepared you will be during the Interview. Knowing about the organization's products, trends, and employment requirements are vital to your interview preparation.
One effective way to research a particular company is to break down the process into 3 parts: 1) take a broad look at the target industry, 2) compare and contrast a small group of companies, and 3) research one particular company in depth.
Specific information to look for when doing company and industry research is located at the bottom of this page.
Researching an Industry
The purpose of researching an industry is to get a "big picture" of the business environment. Look at industry needs, research and development projects and future outlook.
- Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys - Identifies economic conditions, future outlooks, recent developments, and major industry players.
- US Industrial Outlook by the US Department of Commerce - Basic statistics for nearly 350 manufacturing and service industries are given, along with a prospectus for the next five years.
- NTPA: National Trade and Professional Association of the US, Columbia Books, Inc. - A listing of national trade organizations and their contact information.
Researching a Specific Company
There are numerous publications that profile companies. They range form general to specific, covering particular companies in particular regions of the county.
Internal company information can be helpful for large and small companies. With this information simply try to get an overall picture, so that you don't get bogged down in details. Here are some helpful publications:
- Company Newsletters
- Job Postings / employment brochures
- Annual company reports or quarterly reports
- Proxy statements (lists of compensation of upper level executives, directors, and CEOs)
- 10K reports (reports of publicly traded companies that are given to the Securities and Exchange Commission - provides financial information, affiliations with other companies, competitors, outstanding litigation, and biographies of officers and directors)
Small, local, or privately owned companies may have limited published materials. For information on these types of companies, the following resources may be helpful.
- Local/National chamber of Commerce directories
- Local/State Industrial Boards
- State An government publications - Each state publishes a director of manufactures found in the state
- The company itself- Don't be afraid to ask!
The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web can be an excellent source of information, if you know where to look for it. Otherwise, the Internet can be a confusing, time-consuming service. If you have a specific company in mind, but cannot seem to find a link anywhere, it is usually a good bet to type in http://www.company name.com and see what happens.
The Internet allows you the opportunity to research companies and determine if they fit your needs
Bookstores and Libraries
Directories provide information about an organization's products or services, number of employees, principal executives, history, etc. You should be able to locate the directories listed below in the reference section of a public library.
Reference librarians can be an excellent source of information. If you let a reference librarian know what type of information you are looking for, or what company you wish to locate information on, they will most likely be able to assist you with the appropriate resources. West Texas A&M University's Cornette Library has the following link to help you locate information on companies. http://www.wtamu.edu/library/webguides/company.shtml. The resources below are typical library resources.
- Dun & Bradstreet Business Information Reports
- Moody's Manuals
- Standard & Poors Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives
- Million Dollar Directory
- MacRae's State Industrial Directory
- Consultants and Consulting Organizations Directory
- Directory of Corporate Affiliations
The business section of most newspapers contain numerous articles about local companies and their executives. Again, the public library is a good place to find current newspapers and indexes of newspapers. Below are some newspapers that you may want to use a a resource.
- The Wall Street Journal
- The New York Times
- The Boston Globe
- The Chicago Tribune
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Trade Associations produce membership directories, journals and information briefs. Find associations that match your career interest, and then write to ask for their membership list, any printed material they offer, if they publish job listings or have a resume referral service and if they have student memberships. Remember, almost every type of field or industry that exists has a trade association affiliation.
Career Counseling and workshops are provided to develop an individualized strategy for your job search. Videotapes and books on interview preparation and resume formulation are also available.
INFORMATION TO LOOK FOR
Virtualpet recommends the following set-by-step process when researching a company:
1. Identify the industry
2. Seek general industry information
3. Identify trade organizations, publications and trade shows
4. Learn about the consumers of the product or service
5. Examine the patent and trademark situation in the industry
6. Determine the legal issues in the industry
7. Examine the regulatory issues of the industry
8. Find information about specific companies
9. Market data on specific brands or models
10. Product and service reviews
11. Define the type of competition in the industry
12. Examine the geography of the industry
13. Determine the importance of weather and climate
14. Government and/or military implications
15. The international market
- Name of company
- Age of company
- Products or services of company
- Growth history of company
- Anticipated growth of company (Current size within industry)
- Current problems of company (Chief Competitors.)
- Location and number of plants, offices, and stores of company
- Parent company
- Major activity of company
- Description of position for which I am applying
- Major duties of the position
- Geographical location of position
- Minimum requirements for the position
- Deadline for application and starting date of position
- Salary range
- My related experience
- My indirectly related experience
- My community or school activities as they relate to the position
- Recent items in the news
17. Interview people from the industry
18. Use information providers to fill in the gaps
19. Office Tools