Whether identifying companies to target or preparing for an interview, research is a critical component of any successful career strategy.
Most career coaches and interviewing experts agree that researching a company is key to formulating astute interview questions; in large part, because employers recognize that those who took the time to uncover information about a company are enthusiastic and invested in the potential opportunity.
Below are five sources to help you uncover details about private, public, and nonprofit organizations ranging from general information like history and financial stats to HR perks and benefits.
1. Company Websites
Sometimes the source is the best place to start. Locate the company in question online to see everything from press releases and news appearances, and to gain an overview of the company’s benefits.
It’s important to note that oftentimes a website’s layout, style of writing, and willingness to share more information versus less is often indicative of the company’s culture and vibe.
2. Best of Lists
When looking to create a target list of companies potentially well-suited to your personality and aspirations, take advantage of “Best Of” where others have already done some of the leg work for you!
Lists include everything from “Best Companies to Work For” to “Best Companies for Women” and even “Best Companies to Work in HR.” Major cities often create “Best of Lists” for local companies.
3. Public Company Overviews
When it comes to public companies, two great sites to dig some surface dirt and gain insight are Bloomberg and Hoovers. While you have to pay to get a full report at Hoover’s, it is free of charge to uncover who is on the board, how the stock has fared, and who are the company’s major competitors.
4. Private Company Overviews
It’s a little tougher to gather information on private companies, but not insurmountable.
Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies is a great place to start, as is 24/7 Wall Street’s list of The 20 Largest Privately Held Companies in America and Inc.com’s list of Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies.
5. Nonprofit Organization Overviews
There are thousands of nonprofits covering everything from social issues to animal welfare. To help narrow your focus and research, TopNonProfits.com has compiled a list of the 100 nonprofits that have gotten the greatest web traction.
Also helpful is GuideStar’s self-proclaimed “most complete source of information about U.S. charities and other nonprofit organizations there is.” The site’s directory boasts details about 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations.
6. Industry Insights
Industry overviews are helpful to understand a company’s challenges and can provide you with a great foundation by which to formulate discerning interview questions. While market research companies will charge for reports, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) notes that “Uncle Sam offers access to free data that can help you understand your market and analyze consumer trends and demographics”.
The Federal government’s SBA blogs feature five free sources of data to boost your research efforts. Likewise, the Business Journals’ sites feature industry news from 43 different U.S. markets.