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How to Research a Company

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In my last post I talked about how to research a company using its web site, but there are many other sources of information you should explore before your interview.

Search for news releases about the company, as well as a general search for “Information About Company XXX”.

Google may list some online discussion groups or forums, so check them out.  Frequently, company employees lurk on these sites and post information not available elsewhere.

See what the financial reporting agencies say about the company: its assets, how secure is it, which areas are doing well and which ones are struggling.  There may be information about possible mergers, takeovers, layoffs or expansion plans, all of which can give you an idea of things going on behind the scenes.  Areas that are struggling give you a particularly good opportunity to talk about how you can help them.

Annual Report
Read the latest Annual Report and Prospectus.  Many larger companies now post these on their web site, or you can usually find a copy in your local library.  You can also request a copy directly from the company itself, though it may take a while to get it.

In the Annual Report, you’ll find information about the goals and strategies of the company, what it considers its biggest challenges and biggest opportunities, and generally what is considers important as an organization.

This is valuable information that gives you clues as to what they’re looking for in employees.  This will help you come across as that type of an employee in your interview.

Check out Linkedin and Facebook
Here’s a suggestion frequently overlooked:  go to Linkedin and Facebook and search for the name of the hiring manager and other people you know will be on the interview panel.  You just may be able to find out some information that will help you during your interview.

You can also use LinkedIn to find the names of new hires at your target company.  If you contact them, they may be glad to give you some advice as to what to expect in the interview.

Further, you may find former employees who recently left the company.  They may be even more willing to give you some insights into the company and what it looks for in employees.

Linkedin has an excellent feature called “Company Profiles”.  If a company is in their database, it will show the people in your network who currently work there or used to work there, as well as people who have shared connections with you.  This is a great way to find people you can contact for information and advice.

In Facebook, if you’re fortunate enough to find pages for some of the key managers, you may be able to get information about some of their personal likes and dislikes.  I’m continually surprised by the things people share with the world on Facebook.

If you happen to have some common interests, try to work it into your interview answers.  Hiring managers are as human as anyone else (well, almost…) and tend to like people who share common interests.

You should also research some of the other popular social media sites, such as Twitter, Goggle +, YouTube, Squidoo, etc, for any company personnel names you’ve been able to identify.  These sites are constantly changing, so check them frequently.

Next time, we’ll wrap up how to do company research and I’ll tell you what to do if you can’t find any company information at all.

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