Why Do You Need to Research a Company?
Research is an important step in the various stages of a job search. When you are considering your next career step, it’s helpful to get clear on the types of companies you are targeting. Some people prefer small startups while others prefer large established companies. The more you know about a company, the better prepared you will be during interviews and when evaluating offers to make sure the company is the right fit for you. I’ll be sharing some tips on what and how to research effectively.
What to Research About a Company
Since companies come in all shapes and sizes, there are a number of things that you can focus on to help you learn and understand if it is a place that you might want to work at some day. Use the following criteria to sort and filter companies that might interest you:
- Size + Location - Where is the HQ based or are there multiple locations? How large is the company? Is working remotely a possibility?
- Funding, Age, & Stage - How are they funded, how long have they been around, and are they growing?
- Mission & Values - What is their overall intention and does it align with your values and interests?
- Product & Services - Do you like what they do and believe in their product or service? For some additional context, read this blog post on “Why and How Job Seekers Should Test Drive a Startup’s Products”
- Jobs - What kind of roles do they have that align with your skills?
- Salaries + Benefits - Do their compensation packages meet your financial and personal needs?
- News - Is there any recent news on the company or any red flags?
Where to Start Your Company Research
The obvious places to first start researching a company is by going to their company website. Check out the company’s “about” page to learn about their mission and history. Their “careers” page usually can tell you a little more about their company values and culture. Browse through the entire website to get a sense of the company’s products or services, customers, financials, and anything else that will be helpful to know. If the company has a blog, that is another great place to gather information.
The Best Online Resources to Research Companies
There are many sites and platforms that can be helpful when you are looking to research companies. LinkedIn is probably the most well known site to use to research companies. It’s one of the best company and career databases out there that gets updated in real time. Here are some of the things you can learn on LinkedIn about a company:
- Overview of company
- Company posts and news
- Current and former employees
- Geographic distribution of employees, what they do, what they studied, and what they are skilled at
- Companies that people worked at before that company
- Current job opportunities
I also really like Crunchbase for company research because it provides you a comprehensive database of companies, and especially startups, where you can learn about funding history, investment activities, company leadership, acquisition trends, top trending companies, and more. Here is a video you can watch to help you learn how to use Crunchbase to search for companies.
Here are some additional sites that can also be useful for researching companies.
- Glassdoor provides reviews of companies from current or past employees including information about salaries and potential interview questions. People tend to share information on employee benefits, company culture, and general experience at the company.
- TheMuse.com is another great resource because it provides an insider view of a company through photos, videos, and testimonials from employees. You can get a sense of company culture, work attire, and the people through the visual aspects of the company listings.
- Idealist is a comprehensive database of organizations in the non-profit and social impact space. You can search by location, issue area, and organization type. For example, if you want to work for an organization that focuses on climate change in NYC, the search results display 116 organizations that you can check out.
Also, don’t forget your local library that can give you access to costly company research databases for free. You can most likely access the resources from your home via your computer and library card.
People Provide the Best Company Insights
Beyond online research, the best information comes from current or past employees of a company. You can find people on LinkedIn easily and set up informational interviews. Read this blog post, Getting Started with Informational Interviews to learn more about how to go about this process of connecting with people to learn about a company.
When you talk to people at companies you can ask questions about company culture, leadership, why they like working there, company challenges, company goals/future plans, and a lot more. Here are some sample questions:
- Why did you decide to work for this company?
- What do you like most about this company?
- How does your company differ from its competitors?
- What can you tell me about the culture of this company?
- What does the company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
- How committed is the company to DEI initiatives?
Do Your Due Diligence
Researching a company is such an important step in the career planning and job search process. Start the company research process at the time you are preparing your applications for jobs so that you don’t have to cram the night before an interview to learn everything you need to know about the company. The more you know about a company, the more confident you will feel during an interview or when evaluating job offers. If your goal is to land your next job at a company you love, don’t skip this important step of the job search process!