Researching Organizations

An often overlooked, but incredibly important step in the job search process is researching potential employers/organizations.  By gathering and effectively using information about employers/organizations, you can enhance your resume and cover letter writing skills, your interviewing readiness, and your ability to network effectively. If you know an organization's culture, employment qualifications, specific needs, and recent developments, you can customize your resume and cover letter to "speak the company's language."  By doing so, you can convey significant interest in the organization before ever meeting an interviewer.  Using this information, you will also be able to both answer interview questions more effectively and ask insightful and useful questions of the interviewer. Having done your homework on an organization, you improve your position to make informed decisions about your employment future.

1. Why Research Organizations?

  • To gather information which will allow you to effectively market your skills, interests and goals to the employer in a resume, a cover letter and/or an  interview.
  • To connect your strengths and abilities to their needs.
  • To determine whether or not the employer and the position will be a good fit for you.
  • To generate thoughtful questions to ask an employer in an interview.
  • To demonstrate your interest in the organization and the position.

2. Getting Started

  • Visit the organization's website.
  • Gather additional, more objective information, from other sources such as business directories and news sources. The web can be a useful place to find current news information as well.
  • Talk to current and/or former employees. Use the CANE Database, LinkedIn, and people in your network to identify individuals who may work for the organization or in the industry in general.
  • Stay current with relevant industry publications or newspapers during your job search.

3. Organization Research Links

4. Information to Obtain

  • Company size, scope, location and organizational structure (number of employees, number and location of plants, stores, regional offices, sales outlets and ownership).
  • Products and/or services
  • Potential new markets, products or services           
  • Financial information
  • Competitors
  • Recent news
  • Position description
  • Qualifications
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Industry trends
  • Company mission and goals
  • Corporate culture

5. Resources Available at Campus Libraries

  • Minnesota Business Almanac
  • The Corporate Report Fact Book
  • Minnesota Fact Book
  • Hoover's Handbook of American Business (Profiles major U.S. Companies - PUBLIC)
  • Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private & Public Companies
  • Dorgan & Mast's Job Seeker's Guide to Private and Public Companies
  • Who Owns Whom Directory of Corporate Affiliations: Public, Private & International Companies
  • Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives
  • Moody's Bank & Finance Manual & News Reports
  • Who's Who in Finance and Industry