Once upon a time, job searching basically meant perusing the Classifieds, sending a resume and cover letter, waiting for the phone to ring and sitting through one or more interview sessions and trying mightily to convey how your experience, background and training were commensurate with the needs of the organization. If you were to simply rely on such strategy today, your job searching would itself likely become an unsuccessful career.
Given the competitiveness of the current job market, job searching today requires preparing yourself to be interviewed and to interview the employer as well. The hiring employer not only wants to know what you know in general, but also what you know about them. And you should know plenty, not only to meet the employer’s expectations but to ensure you have sufficient information to convince you that you truly want to work for that company and have the ability to add value to their organization. To really stand out from all your peers in the job market and turn the interview into a job offer you must go to the interview with enough information to speak knowledgeably about how you have the qualifications, experience, and ability to help the company meet their challenges, solve their problems, and achieve their goals.
As you are job searching, there are several factors you should research when preparing for an interview. These will enable you to ask relevant, well-informed questions and demonstrate your interest and resourcefulness. The information may also serve to dispel any concerns you might have about working for the organization.
Endeavor to find out as much as you can about such things as financial health of the company, mission/vision, social policies, corporate culture, standing in the industry, news of scandal or legal problems and information regarding the interviewer and/or individuals with whom you’ll be working. While hardly an exhaustive list, having information about these items can be of tremendous value to you.
Here, then, are some suggestions for you to incorporate as you engage in your job searching due diligence (you can rest assured the company will be engaging in theirs):
- Spend time on the company website. Investigate each tab, not just the landing page. You may be able to glean such information as corporate philosophy, where the company believes it stands in the industry, product/service focus, key players and whether their online presence is current (last time the “News” or “Press Releases” page was updated, for example).
- Research Social Media presence. Job searching these days requires the savvy use of social media. Does the company utilize social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like? Become a “Friend”/”Follower” to stay connected and informed about what’s going on at the company.
- LinkedIn. Check out the profiles of those employed by the company who have leadership and/or management responsibilities. Not only can you ascertain what kinds of people they hire and what experience, background and training they might consider relevant, you may also discover that you have something in common with someone at the company, a fact that may enable you to build a personal connection at some point, a connection that could be helpful not just in your job searching efforts but will also have longer-term career benefits.
- Trade/Industry Websites/Journals which can provide you information on industry trends, where the company with which you’re interviewing stands in the industry and whether the industry itself is on the rise or perhaps under threat due to factors such as the economy or proposed new regulatory scheme, for example. Assuming you are targeting one or more specific industries in your job searching efforts, the more familiar you are with the industry or industries, the better.
- Newspapers/news websites. Unless it involves talk of merger, legal action or criminal investigations, very little is ever reported in the news about any company. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for it, however. There may be an SEC investigation or a shortage in a commodity on which the company relies (e.g., copper) to name just two examples. It’s not likely the interviewer will disclose any unflattering portrayal of the organization so you may want to raise the issue if one exists and you’re uncomfortable about it.
The term “job searching” refers not only to looking for work, but also to the research you should be conducting into any job you are considering–research that will allow you to differentiate yourself from the masses and turn your job searching efforts into job offers.