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Company Research is Always in Fashion
February 2010

This past week was New York Fashion Week. My office is right across the street from Bryant Park, and I was able to catch a glimpse of many celebrities going in and out of the Fashion Week tents. One thing I did notice was how impeccably each celebrity dressed, from the custom designed dresses and suits to the one of a kind jewelry. No celebrity is going to walk into a store at the mall and pull a dress or suit off the rack before they go to an award show or event like Fashion Week. They are going to make sure that their wardrobe is customized and they use only the designers that fit them perfectly so that they look like a million bucks when they hit the red carpet.

You may be wondering how fashion relates to your job search strategies. In this month’s Career Zone article you will learn that your job search should never be “off the rack”. Like the celebrity on the red carpet, you should do your research to see which “designer” (i.e. target company) will highlight your best features and fit you best. You will waste a lot of time and energy if you just apply to any random job opening and don’t research potential employers. Time spent up-front investigating companies will benefit you and save time in the long run. 

So, how do you makeover your job search so that you focus on target companies that are a good fit for your industry and area of focus? The answer is solid research. Do you have a list of 20-30 employers you would be excited to work for? 

There are many places to go to find information on companies that are a good match to your background. The Internet has lots of valuable information about potential employers such as financial data, product information, annual reports, current news and industry trends.

Many magazines such as Fortune, Working Mother and DiversityInc rank the “BEST” Companies to work for. INC magazine even has an annual list of the fastest growing companies. While most on the INC. list are small companies with fast growth, they may be well positioned to hire in a tough economic climate. When reviewing the “best” listings, consider what programs and policies these companies have implemented to get them on each list.

Your local Chamber of Commerce will be another informative resource for finding information about companies. You can start by visiting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which has a directory you can search to find your local Chamber of Commerce. At the local level you can search for business listings by industry. The U.S. Better Business Bureau is another government resource to use when researching companies. 

Hoovers Online can provide valuable information about a company by searching by name or keyword.  You can learn about the senior managers, company locations and competitive information.

Another great resource to use when researching companies is a Web site called Weddles, which has a free directory of associations. The directory is listed by industry, so use it to learn about professional associations in your industry, which have job boards and job resources on their Web sites, and what companies are members of those professional associations.

LinkedIn has a company section which you can utilize to find corporate information on your target companies. You can browse by industry, location or search by keyword. You will be able to see your connections at the company, promotions, related organizations and company statistics. 

Are you curious as to what former employees say about working for those companies? Going to Web sites such as Vault, WetFeet, CareerLeak and GlassDoor will give you an in-depth look at what current and former employees have said about your target companies and find company profiles, salaries and CEO ratings.
So, you researched the best companies to work for, found the employers in your location who are hiring and narrowed down your “off the rack” job search to a target list of companies for which you would like to work. Now, start reviewing your network to see who you know at those target companies and use your recently renovated resume and start to apply for jobs at those companies.