Embracing Your Inner Sherlock: Investigating Potential Employers

social media sleuth

If Sherlock Holmes had a job interview scheduled, what would he do before anything else? Elementary, dear reader: He’d investigate the potential employer.

And that’s exactly what you should do. Sure, there’s a shortage of skilled talent out there in the accounting and finance fields. But that doesn’t mean a job offer’s a slam dunk. You still must show the hiring manager that you’ve done your homework about the position and the company. She’ll take any indication that you haven’t as a red flag.

What’s more, researching a potential employer allows you to learn more about the firm’s culture, reputation and commitment to employees’ professional development. It also helps you gain a clear idea of exactly what the organization does and the role your position would play in the bigger picture.

Doing your detective work before an interview requires some time, and a little creativity, but it’s well worth it. Here are five tips for researching potential employers:

1. Start your engine.

A general web search for your potential employer’s name can yield an overwhelming number of hits. You might learn a lot, but you’ll have to sort through a lot of chaff, too. Instead, narrow your investigation by using your search engine’s “news” tab for recent press releases, feature articles and news reports. You can find information and insights ranging from the company’s quarterly earnings and unfiltered experts’ views on its future, to whether the media considers (and quotes) the company’s executives as thought leaders.

2. Review the corporate website.

This is where you'll find an overview of what the firm does, how the organization presents itself to the public, the accomplishments and partnerships it’s most proud of, and even the charities it supports. You’ll also gain a better understanding of the company’s client base and the types of projects it works on. This is all key information for any interview, when you need to speak knowledgeably about the company’s products and brand. 

3. Read the company’s blog.

Company blogs offer a peek into topics your potential employer is passionate about, new technologies the firm is using, ongoing campaigns and completed projects. Blogs are also a company’s platform for demonstrating thought leadership, which can give you insight into how a potential employer looks at its industry’s future. If you pay attention to the voice and tone of the blog, you’ll get a subtle hint of the corporate culture, too.

4. Find them on LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

An employer’s LinkedIn profile is often targeted at potential employees, rather than the general public. And if the company truly understands social media, the profile will highlight its reputation as an employer. To get a more complete picture, read through the comments section, looking for any remarks left by employees. Then turn to Glassdoor for another view of employee satisfaction. Both sites will offer insight into the company’s reputation and will give you a clue as to whether employees are proud to work for the organization.

5. Check out Twitter and Facebook.

A firm’s Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are generally targeted at customers, instead of potential employees. That can give you a better understanding of how the organization markets itself and its interests to the public. For example, if the firm is promoting sustainability, you might see posts about how to reduce printouts in an accounting office. That kind of information can tell you a lot about the company’s values, and whether you’d want to work there. 

You don’t need to be the world’s greatest detective to gather clues for your job interview. Some sleuthing on your own can tell you all you need to know about a potential employer, the work environment and the position you’re interested in. And when you go in for your interview, showing the hiring manager that you’ve done your research will do wonders to improve your chances of getting hired.

What methods of researching potential employers have you found helpful? Let us know in the comments.

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