We have talked about the necessity to research a company to see if the company culture would suit you in a past article. But what exactly can you do to undertake research about the company? And how do we begin the research process? What does one mean by research anyway? And why is it needed?
Research about the company should be done with an aim to gather some information about:
- Company history
- Company culture
- Leadership and management
- Mission statement and values
- Recent news and events
- Business model
But one must know how to use that information, especially during interviews.
- Do use the information as a way to know more about the company
- Do use the information to try to ascertain whether you would be a good cultural fit there
- Do use the information to try to better understand the company
- Do use the information to be prepared
- Do be strategic in how you use the information
- Do ask the questions you have based on the information
- Do use the information to augment your skills and experience
Moreover, there are ways one must not use that information; there are some don’ts one must adhere to and some limitations one must keep in mind:
- Don’t be insensitive while talking about sensitive issues you found in your research
- Don’t make an assumption that the information you found is up to date
- Don’t stick to the online information 100%; while the world today demands everyone to be tech-savvy, it shouldn’t be the only criteria for any decision, unless being tech-savvy is a professional requirement
- Don’t stick even to the offline information 100%; relayed and second-hand information can be subjective
Now, let us dive into the process! Below are some pointers you can start with as you undertake research about a company. You could be researching for an interview, a potential collaboration or just for some general knowledge.
The Bigger Picture:
Before undertaking research about the company, it is a good idea to research a bit about the industry, especially if you are a candidate about to switch industries. Knowing a bit about industry norms and standards, its functioning, can give you a sense of what you should be researching about.
As we talked about in the article mentioned about, the obvious first step of a research these days is running an online search.
Check the company website. How updated or outdated it is can be telling. Don’t forget to check the ‘About Us’ page. Look for their mission statement if there is one on the site. Mission statements directly talk about the values of the company. In case the website isn’t too text heavy and a mission statement can’t really be seen anywhere, look for recurring words and pictures; they can indirectly tell us about the values the company identifies with.
Running an online search also includes checking the company’s social media. How active or inactive they are, the kind if posts they share can also give you some idea about the company’s functioning and core values.
Social media also gives us idea about any recent events or functions the company may have hosted or been part of.
An online search can not only give you glimpses about the company culture but also things to talk about during an interview. Depending on where your priorities lie, you may uncover some potential red-flags or green-lights!
Check your LinkedIn. Do you have any connection who was associated with the company? You can ask things about:
- The company culture,
- What it is like working there,
- What differences there are, if any, between the brand image and the reality,
- What the management/leadership is like, if there is someone new in the management and how they have changed or not changed the functioning
- What the employees are like
- What the employee and employer relationship is like
Researching about a company also means researching about personnel. LinkedIn can take you to the profiles of your potential boss and colleagues.
One can also use websites like Glassdoor, where employees themselves give a glimpse about the workings of the company.
If it happens to be an internationally or nationally well-known company, an online search often proves to be enough to know about the news and events, the business model, the values and their mission, and even news about personnel and management.
But what to do if it’s a newly emerging or a fairly old-fashioned company with no telling online presence?
No problem. We just need to look somewhere else.
Information about companies can also be found in good old offline resources like:
- Newspapers (local and national)
- Relevant business journals and publications
- Word of mouth about the company
- The old grapevine of ‘gossip’ which can be known by networking with people, be it your neighbour or your colleague or your acquaintance or a friend’s friend or a relative…the grapevine is endless
Researching about a company thus entails running a background check about them. Chalking up a schedule to research particular aspects of company on a particular day or hour is a great idea to organise information. So go ahead, and use that information to your advantage!