best approach to research the company or job

What’s the best approach to research the company or job you want for interview success?

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Someone recently reached out to me on LinkedIn about a job.

They wanted more details about a role that was posted.

Though I hadn’t shared it online nor was it something that I typically recruit for, the inquiry wasn’t out of the ordinary.

After all, I am a Recruiter.

While I’m certainly not perfect, I’ve always tried to help folks in search of opportunities, by way of pointing them in a more suitable direction, or referring to others better equipped, even if it wasn’t my job.

However… this particular “ask” was a bit different.

They didn’t have questions about the description nor the responsibilities.

They wanted to know more about what the hiring manager was really looking for — if I could shed light into what would make them stand out, offer any additional information that might help them position themselves as a more desirable candidate than others applying to the role.

This kind of request, in my opinion, belongs in the “You need to do your research” category of your job search.

While people can have differing opinions on what the ‘right’ thing to do would be, this request got me thinking:

  • What are the ways in which job seekers build knowledge about the companies and roles that they are interested in?
  • Are there better sources than others?
  • Should you be adopting a particular approach to how you’re building your intelligence in the job search?

When it comes to gaining specific insight to a particular role, company or industry, I believe in a multi-tiered approach to information gathering. Here are some suggestions to help strengthen your awareness and intelligence around your career pursuits and the companies that interest you:

  • Go beyond the usual research sources for job seekers.

Googling their latest mentions on social media, along with setting up notifications and alerts around new jobs posted are common ways professionals keep tabs on their favorite companies.

However, these scratch the surface when it comes to the ways in which you can develop strong knowledge about the places you admire and the roles that interest you. Consider diversifying the ways you’re researching companies. Yes, reading comments shared on popular websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Fishbowl can be very helpful to know what people have to say about their interview experiences. But have you also checked out videos and reels on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok from job seekers, influencers, and other professionals willing to share their first-hand accounts of their experiences? Similarly, gaining anonymized insight from apps like Blind, along with following the thought leaders and others at the company you’re interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter can help broaden your insight and capture the spirit of things happening at the company.

  • Incorporate sources beyond the Reviews as part of your research.

When I was in business school years ago, my professors mentioned that there can be a lot of helpful information in the required reports and industry papers put out by the company. Not only does such detail help with investor insight, but these documents also provide helpful context for job seekers. The footnotes within a company’s annual report, for example, can give insight into key initiatives and markets important to an organization, along with hints on sentiment and outlook. White papers authored by an organization typically provide trends within industry, and that are of interest to the company, as well. By incorporating these sources into your preparation, you’re able to gain a high-level understanding of the initiatives important to the business, getting a feel for the direction the company’s headed in the future. As a result, you’re in a more informed position to know if the company’s initiatives and goals align with your values and interests.

  • Build connections with the people who might provide insight before you ask for help.

Data gathering is important while you research. However, gaining the first-hand perspective of those who are where you’d like to be is equally as valuable.

While platforms like LinkedIn and other networking sites allow you to connect with others in your industry and with whom you’ve never met, be thoughtful in your approach to asking others for help or information. Don’t assume that everyone you reach out to for assistance will respond to you, let alone will be willing to provide an answer to your random request.

If possible, take the time to develop the connection with other professionals before asking for their help. That way, you’re able to establish rapport and trust, which can prove helpful down the road. If you have to approach someone you don’t know well online for assistance, make sure you’re thoughtful in your introduction and purpose, making it as easy as possible for the other person to respond to your request.

  • Keep a Pulse on What’s Current & Relevant Through Podcasts.

Podcasts are great ways to stay abreast of things happening at the moment. They also provide an opportunity to hear from people who are driving the conversations in your industry. For job seekers, this can be a fantastic way to not only keep tabs on companies you’re interested in, gain insight into the happenings of specific departments and teams.

Deloitte, for example, has a number of regularly produced podcasts that share insight into the solutions they build in collaboration with clients from a variety of industries. Their Global InsightsUser Friendly, and Capital H podcasts offer timely perspectives from business leaders, innovators, and others within the organization about technology, media, and human capital transformations within the organization.

What are some of your ‘go to’ ways to research companies you’re interested in? How do you develop knowledge and insight into a business or job you’d love to work in? Share below — I’d love to know!

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In this video I did for the #WorkforceHawaii hybrid job fair last year, I discuss how to interview successfully using a specific method - situation, task (action), and result. This

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