What Company Research Can Do for Shrewd Job Seekers

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By Robert Half June 2, 2016 at 7:30pm

It's always best to invest some time doing company research when you're in the midst of a job search. You want to be as informed as possible, not only about the position that's advertised, but also about the organization and its workplace culture — especially if you're invited for a job interview.

Taking this additional step will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company’s needs. It will help you tailor a resume and cover letter that are likely to catch the hiring manager’s eye, and it will give you tips for asking the right questions during the job interview.

So how do inquiring accounting and finance professionals begin their company research? Here are seven tips:

1. Find out who will be interviewing you

When the company invites you for an in-person job interview, ask for the name of the manager who you’ll meet with as well as the CFO. Be sure to get the correct spelling of their names and their current job titles. This will help as you begin your company research.

2. Visit the website and dig deeper

Begin with the staples: Google the name of the company on your favorite search engine. Read what the company says about itself on its “about us” page, take a look at its investor relations page to check its financial health, and read some of its corporate blog, if it has one. Here, you may find information on the firm’s quarterly earnings, its annual report and community involvement.

Need help in your company research? Let our job placement experts pair you with a company that matches your skills and career goals.

3. Check traditional media and trade publication reports

Even before you submit your resume, review articles in trade publications, business journals and local newspapers to learn as much as you can about the firm, its services, products, customers and competition.

Google’s news button is a useful company research tool (as is Yahoo’s) for seeing if any recent news stories have been written about the employer and its key players.

4. Turn to LinkedIn and other networking connections

Speak with contacts in your professional network who can share their insights and experiences working for the company. The knowledge you gather will help you speak in an informed and enthusiastic way about the opening. Find out more about the company’s key players. Look them up on LinkedIn, and see if you have any connections in common. It’s all part of networking — an indispensable but often overlooked company research and job interview preparation tool.

5. Jump on social media

Check the company’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles to see what officials post and what others are saying about the company. Bear in mind: While you’re using social media to do your company research, hiring managers are also looking at your social media profiles as they consider whether to invite you in for a job interview or extend a job offer. So mind your social media manners.

6. Ask a recruiter to help with the job interview process

Working with a skilled recruiter can facilitate your company research and strengthen your job interview strategy. Many Accountemps recruiters have worked in the accounting and finance field. They understand the job market, are familiar with companies’ talent needs, and appreciate the unique nature of accounting and finance work. They are distinctly qualified to match job seekers with great employment opportunities.

While working with recruiters, accounting professionals should carefully consider any recommendations they receive, from advice about tailoring their resumes and cover letters to coaching on job interview best practices.

7. Request an informational interview

Informational interviews have made a comeback. These meetings provide a chance to ask hiring managers and other company professionals about what working in a particular field entails. Informational interviews can provide real-world insights. According to an Accountemps survey, 36 percent of CFOs polled said these meetings are becoming more common, with nearly a third (31 percent) receiving informational interview requests at least once a month.

Job seekers should take note: 84 percent of executives said when a candidate impresses them in an informational interview, they will likely alert that person to job openings at the company.

One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is not knowing enough about the organization they’re applying with. Doing your company research ahead of time offers these advantages:

  • You'll be better prepared for the job interview
  • You’ll be informed to make a better case as to why the company should hire you
  • You’ll impress the hiring manager as a candidate who takes the initiative and values the company’s workplace culture and mission, as opposed to the candidate who gives cut-and-paste job interview answers
  • If the company extends a job offer, you’ll be able to weigh your independent evaluation against the information they offer — in determining if the job is the right fit.

In short, there are no downsides to doing your homework before the big job interview.

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