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Research employers

Research employers

Research is a critical part of the job search process.

Research is a critical part of the job search process. It can help you:

  • Identify companies that may be hiring in your field
  • Prepare you for a job interview
  • Learn about potential growth of businesses and industries
  • Understand how you can apply your skills in a new field
  • Focus your job search on employers that share your values. Need to clarify your work values? Try the Work Values Matcher.

Identify companies

Visit the Business Finder to identify and get contact information for employers in your local area.

Do your research

Once you’ve identified some companies you’re interested in—or perhaps even scheduled an interview—you can visit their websites to learn more about them. Locate websites by entering the full name of the business into a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. Below are some key questions you might ask about potential employers:

Where to Search

What products/services does the employer provide? What industry trends are affecting the company?

Employer websites. These often describe the company unit(s) that may be hiring in your field. They also provide details on the types of products or programs they offer.

Regional or state publications:

  • Chamber of Commerce directories
  • Manufacturers' directories by state

National publications. Most libraries have copies in their business sections.

  • National Trade & Professional Associations
  • Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors & Executives
  • The Macmillan Directory of Leading Private Companies
  • Ward's Business Directory of Major U.S. Private Companies

The titles above are just a few examples. Almost every type of field or industry has its own trade association.

How many employees does the employer have? What jobs does the company typically hire for? What is the employer's hiring policy? Where is the employer located? Does it have more than one location? Is it on the bus line?

Employer websites. These often include size of their workforce, hiring policies, and job openings. It may also provide details on company location(s) and mass transit options. Also check recent press releases for news about plant expansions, new product roll-outs, or sponsorship of events.

College and university placement or career services offices. Check if the company is recruiting on campus. Find out which qualifications they look for when they hire.

What are the employer's mission and values? How long have they been in business? Is the employer involved in community services? If so, what?

Employer websites. Look for annual reports. Or contact the employer's public relations office or personnel department. Annual reports outline the employer's successes, growth, history, and financial status. Companies that give back to the community often have a section of their website devoted to their efforts.

What is the employer's financial situation? Is it making money? Has it downsized in the last five years? Has there been any recent important news related to the company? What do others think about the company?

Employer websites. Review recent and past press releases. Annual reports often include a financial report for the year. If the company has investors, detailed financial reports may also be online.

Current newspapers, trade journals, and business magazines. The business section of most papers have articles about local companies and their executives. You can find back copies in library archives. Also check Businessweek for company and industry news.

What's it really like to work for this employer?

Current or past employees. Talk with people who are working or have worked for the company.

Organize your research

You will collect a lot of information on employers and industries. Discard anything that has little or no immediate value. Then file and maintain the information that you want to keep:

  • Create a digital or paper filing system for each company.
  • Print out information, e-mail it to yourself, or cut and paste it into a word processing document for future reference.
  • Don’t count on search engines every time you want to review information you’ve already found. Articles sometimes disappear or show up in different spots on search result lists.