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Researching Potential Employers

If you are considering a particular company as a potential employer, the next step is to research them. Do this prior to contacting them. Find out what they do and what they are looking for in new employees. This will allow you to more effectively discuss how you can meet their needs. Also, it can save you time since you won't be focusing on organizations that do not interest you.

Prior to the interview it is important that you research the company, position, interviewer, and salary range. "Doing your home work" with good employer research demonstrates to the interviewer:

  • Interest and enthusiasm for the job
  • Preparation for the interview
  • Knowledge of the company
  • Readiness and understanding of the transition to professional work world

The good news is that today it is easier than ever to access the information you need. But this also means that employers expect candidates to have completed this important step and often tell us that there is “ no excuse” for a candidate to be unprepared. Candidates that are unfamiliar with their prospective employer are at a disadvantage in the interview.

In your research try to discover:

While it is not necessary for you to memorize every detail about a company, you should know the following.

  • Age of the company
  • Services or products provided
  • Competitors within the industry
  • Growth patterns
  • Reputation
  • Divisions and subsidiaries
  • Number of employees
  • Sales
  • Assets and earnings
  • New products or projects
  • Number of locations
  • Foreign operations

Begin in Career Services and review the literature of campus recruiters. Also, look in the Career Library. Books such as Hoover's Handbook of American Companies can be a great source of information. When you have considered all available materials, turn your attention to the business reference section of the Columbia College or Columbia, MO libraries and continue your search. The World Wide Web is an almost infinite source of information. Use Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos, etc., to search for company information on the Internet.

It's almost a cliche, but gathering information will put you ahead of the game. Employers are looking for potential employees who have thoroughly researched their company and are able to talk knowledgeably about it in an interview. People who have done their research are better able to discuss how their experiences and qualifications match up with the company's needs. Prepared candidates who know the company can also talk about how they can make an immediate contribution to the organization. The candidate who can do that is typically the candidate who gets the job offer.

Sources of information for employer research

  • Industry directories & databases
  • Company website
  • Company Literature
  • Annual reports
  • Professional associations
  • Newspapers
  • Employees ( current or former )
  • Trade journals
  • Networking contacts (family, friends, etc )


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