How to Research Employers

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Just as important as looking for a job or internship is doing research on employers that interest you. Before you apply for a job somewhere, make sure you know enough about the employer.
Here are some resources I’ve written about in Getting Your First Job for Dummies, to help you do your research:

Employer’s website

Most companies and organizations have a website. Your starting point should be the employer’s site and specifically the “About Us” and “In the News” sections. These pages will give you a good overview of what the organization does, in their own words, including their mission and values. You can also learn about the products and services the organization offers. The news section will show you announcements they’ve made about new products, strategic partnerships and other initiatives.

Wikipedia

Not all employers have Wikipedia pages written about them. But for the ones that do, you can get a more unbiased look at the organization. Wikipedia entries are crowdsourced by independent contributors and most claims on Wikipedia entries need to be backed up credible sources. Therefore, to get a more unbiased third-party view of an organization, search for them on Wikipedia.

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Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a great resource to see what current and former employees think of an organization.  Disgruntled employees tend to do their venting on Glassdoor, and you may get a biased perspective of the organization. But too many bad reviews are a sign that you should take a closer look at the organization you’re reviewing.  Make sure you sort reviews by date so you can see the most recent feedback. Some organizations that receive bad reviews will act on them and work to improve things. If their efforts are effective, then the most recent reviews should be positive.

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Owler

Owler is a great site to learn about an organization’s competitors and to see articles and social media posts that mention the company. You’ll need a company email address or a .edu address to register on Owler. Once you register, type in the organization’s URL into the search box and you’ll see the organization’s name pop up. Click on it to go to the organization’s Owler page. You’ll be able to see similar organizations, giving you an idea of other potential employers to explore.

Figure10-4Owler

 

Yahoo Finance

Last but not least, Yahoo Finance is a great place to learn about publicly listed companies. Type in the company’s name or stock symbol to look at the company’s finances. The income statement will tell you how the organization’s revenues are trending. An upward trend is great. You can also see if the company is profitable or not. Profitability is good but not always required if the company is on a high growth path. Look at the balance sheet to see how much debt and cash the organization has. Having more cash than debt is a good sign of a healthy company.

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Always do your research when looking at potential employers. Doing this makes you be sure you want to work for the prospective organization. It’s also good to do your research before your interviews, so you can ask better questions and to show the employer you are prepared.
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