The first post in this series covered ways to research the industry you’re interested in.
Once you’ve narrowed down that part of your job search, it’s time to look at organizations within the industry you’ve chosen. In this instance, “organization” refers to any entity that hires employees, whether it’s a corporation, nonprofit, political or religious group, academic, or health care group.
When researching an organization, pay attention to the following:
- Products, services, or clients.
- Culture, mission, values, priorities.
- Specific programs or initiatives.
- Current events or media coverage.
- Company outlook and strategy.
- Company history.
- Ownership status (private, public, nonprofit).
- Size and number of employees.
- Main competitors.
- Career opportunities.
Some of these items can be found on the company’s website, while others will take a more detailed search.
Organization Research Strategies and Tools
- Visit the company’s website and note key facts that are relevant to the department or position in which you’re interested. There are various places on the website to look: Try About Us Corporate Info, and FAQs. If it’s a public company, it should have annual reports online, which can provide considerable detail about the organization’s finances and corporate structure, as well as its mission and vision. If it’s a nonprofit, look for a 990 report online, which is similar to an annual report (some nonprofits do both). Also take a look at the company’s press page, both for press releases and the coverage received.
- Search for companies on LinkedIn. See how you are connected to employees, view the company’s profile information, and find links to relevant news articles. Some companies will post articles on their LinkedIn pages that will give you a sense of relevant company trends and happenings. Review the LinkedIn profiles of employees to gain an understanding of the company culture and working environment.
- Search for companies on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Find out what a company is talking about online in these more informal settings. Depending on the organization, an organization may also have Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube accounts, among others.
- Read articles about the organization in the American City Business Journal for the geographic region you are targeting (if there is one).
- Use a search engine, such as Google, to find current events or media coverage.
- Conduct an informational interview with a current or former employee to gain insight into the organization.
- Use Glassdoor to review company ratings or gain insight into the interview process.
- Identify other local business periodicals online or at your local library that feature news about the company.
Next Steps: Taking Action
Researching organizations can seem daunting at first, but once you dig in, you’ll start to find that some companies aren’t doing the kind of work you want to do, or aren’t hiring in your field. You may find yourself drawn to certain types of organizations—for example, nonprofits—which can help you narrow down your list of potential targets even more. You might even discover companies you’d never heard of that are doing work that interests you.
It’s a good idea to keep a file or spreadsheet of information you learn that’s relevant to your job search, so you can compare “apples to apples” as you decide which organizations to approach. Keep information such as company size, location, type of organization, type of work being done, financial details (if you can find that—privately held companies don’t always make that information public), types of jobs available, etc. Even though it takes effort to put this together, in the long run it will save you time as you have all that information in an easily searchable document.
Most importantly, go beyond just collecting facts about an organization. Instead, focus on making the connection to these facts that highlight your interest in the organization or demonstrate the impact you can make.
The Capella Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.