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Researching employers

Why you need to research employers

  • To effectively sell yourself as a job candidate, you need to be able to persuade the employer that you are a fit for that employer's needs. Even when the job market is great for job seekers, employers aren't going to interview and hire candidates who are not a match for their needs.
  • You can't present yourself — in cover letters or interviews — as a match for the employer's needs if you don't know enough about the employer to connect.
  • By doing research, you get information to decide which employers to contact. Rather than sending (and incurring the associated costs of sending) fifty letters and resumes to employers you know little to nothing about, send ten letters and resumes to employers you know something about and have a greater chance of securing an interview. Targeted letters, individualized to the recipient are more effective than 'form' letters — you know a form letter when you receive one; employers do too.
  • In interviews, employers expect you to arrive knowing background information about the organization. If you don't, you look like you're not really interested in the job. You have to be able to answer the critical question of why you would like to work for that employer — and not sound like you would take any job.
  • Research helps you formulate intelligent and appropriate questions to ask in your interview.

What Employers Say About Research

Time after time, when employers are asked what job candidates can do to shine in the job interview, the response is 'thoroughly research the company and be able to talk knowledgeably about it in the interview'. According to employers responding to surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, candidates who have done their homework are better able to discuss how their experiences and qualifications match up with the company's needs. Prepared candidates who know the company can also talk about how they can make an immediate contribution to the organization. The candidate who can do this is typically the candidate who gets the job offer. (From 'Planning Job Choices 2002')

What to Look For When Conducting Research

  • Financial Information: Look at organizational structure, profit vs. non-profit, and funding sources. What is the total revenue? What are their sales trends? What part of this organization is growing?
  • Key Personnel: Who is their president, CEO? Do they have any UTSA alumni? Were there any recent additions to their management team?
  • History/Mission/Goals: How old is the organization? What major events shaped its history? Where is the headquarters?
  • Products/Services: What new products or services are being developed? Who are the primary users of these products/services? In what sector of the market are they utilized?
  • Marketing Strategy: What key brand names do they own? What forms of advertising are used? Are there new initiatives? Where is their product/service sold, distributed and placed against the competition?
  • Key Clients: Who are they? What important service or product do they supply? Is this company targeting new clients?
  • Major Competitors: Who are they? How do they compete? Do they have more market share?
  • Major Trends/Current Events in the Industry: What is the effect of government regulations? New competitors? Technology? Globalization?

Understanding the Organization

  • Recruiting Profile/Company Culture:
    • How do they describe themselves? How do they describe the type of person they are looking for? Who do they highlight in the company brochure? Where do they recruit?
    • Job Description: Where does this job fit into the organization? How do they want the person in this position to contribute?
  • How Do You Fit Their Profile: What real-life examples from your resume demonstrate how your background matches what they are seeking?
  • Extras: Read current articles, talk to any contacts you have in the company, talk to your friends who interviewed before you. Ask UTSA Career Center for names of recent grads who work in that company. Check sites such as www.wetfeet.com or www.vault.com for business networking opportunities.
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