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Back when I was recruiting for AOL, I would routinely ask prospective job seekers about their pre-interview research process. “What do you know about America Online?” I would inquire. And, it never ceased to amaze me when a candidate said: “Well, in preparing for this interview, I looked at your website”!
Now the word is getting out, and most job seekers know that pre-interview company research goes beyond perusing a company’s website; however, locating the highest quality corporate information is still a challenge. It’s out there, but we often simply don’t dig deep enough.
Read on to find some additional sleuthing techniques to unleash your inner detective, and impress a few hiring managers along the way.
1) Google Alerts
A Google Alert is a customized search that serves up results when you need/want them, without requiring you to go digging. Setting up Google Alerts will provide you with up-to-the-minute information on your target companies, key players in those companies, as well as any relevant key word phrases that apply to your field. Go to Google Alerts to set up your first one: pick your target employer name, interviewer name, or anything pertinent to your job search!
2) Annual Reports
You can find annual reports filed by the company right online. In addition to annual revenue, annual reports contain general corporate information, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and information on corporate social responsibility. Executives: the annual report is a must read.
3) Journal Articles
If you are thinking: “Really? Why in the world should I be concerned with a trade journal in my industry?” you are not alone. But, industries are often like secret societies, replete with their own language and handshake. Trade journals will illuminate this information and help you get on the inside, often before you’re literally on the inside. It’s also helpful to have these details in your interview to show that you’re invested in the industry your target company is in, not just the company. To find trade journals in your industry, I’ve found no better option than to go old school: head to your local library. E-Journals of all shapes and sizes can be found with a click of a button. This is definitely worth a day of your time during your job search.
LinkedIn is the best networking tool around, and by using the Boolean Search feature, you can narrow your search to specific topics, companies, or target job titles.
Hoovers is essentially the “worlds largest business directory.” With the amount of companies in their database, you can build a target list of companies based on data points that fit your company preferences. Nominal fee will apply to use this service.
Glassdoor is essentially the “word on the street” tool for job seekers. Want to know if current employees are happy there? Glassdoor has the scoop. You can see salary details and possible interview questions. It’s like having the final exam questions before you get into the exam room!
Forbes is a great resource when it comes to finding business and financial news. With many contributing writers, there is a constant stream of updates on business topics. New to the scene is the Forbes Coaches Council: get top business and career advice from leadership development and careers. You can even subscribe to their newsletter or follow particular writers to have updates sent right to your inbox.
10) Fortune 500 Lists
If you’re searching for the countries top revenue-generating companies, look no further than the Fortune 500 lists. Now 60 years old, Fortune has made an art of generating these lists. In them, they disclose revenue, employee numbers (full and part time, where applicable), and investor ROI, among other data points, enabling you to be a very well oiled machine in the interview.
Bottom line: go beyond the website to find the real corporate story. What are the goals and dreams of your target company? Any new products on the horizon? Where does the company see itself in 10 years? If you can answer those questions, you’ll be in great shape come interview time!