Whether you’re fresh out of college or a seasoned professional, if you’re thinking about applying for new roles, one of the most important aspects of your job search is employer research. And unfortunately, a cursory glance at a potential employer’s ‘about us’ page simply won’t do.
If only it were that easy.
Believe it or not, you’ll need to set aside quite a bit of time to fully research the employers you are most interested in. After all, while you want to land a good job, you don’t necessarily want to end up working for the wrong employer.
Here’s how to carry out that research effectively.
Pay attention to their employer branding efforts
Employer branding is how a company markets itself to potential candidates. It can encompass everything from their social media posts to ads on jobs boards. In fact, it’s any touchpoint where a potential candidate might come into contact with the company. And with 87% of professionals open to new opportunities, practically everyone who comes in touch with the company is a potential candidate.
This means that employers are investing more time and effort into their employer branding. They want all those active and passive candidates to see how much they care about their employees and what a great company they are to work for.
A lack of any clear indication that the company has considered employer branding a priority suggests that they may not value their employees as highly as they should. The truth is that employers should be trying to attract the best talent and if they’re not making that effort, they may be one to cross off your list.
Is there a potential for growth
No one wants to work in a dead-end job, so it’s crucial that you find out if there is a potential for growth with this company.
Do they offer funding for additional training and qualifications?
Do they often promote internal staff?
There was a time when this information was hard to come by unless you knew someone working at the company or you called and asked them yourself (although they may not have given you an answer.) These days it’s a little easier with social media and those employer branding efforts we mentioned earlier.
You see, an employer that values their employees and understands the value of employer branding will share their employees' wins on social media, in their newsletter, or on their blog. These will include promotions, completed training, or any qualifications they might have recently received. Exactly the information you’re looking for.
However, not every employer will take this route and that’s when our next tip will come in useful.
Ask your network
Speaking with people who have actually worked with a company takes a lot of the guesswork out of your research. So ask your network, either on Facebook or LinkedIn, if anyone can provide you with a contact who can help.
When you ask, make it clear that you are doing research and not looking for a contact to get your foot in the door.
Also, a quick word of warning. You need to remember that you are asking someone for their personal opinion based on their experience. For example, an ex-employee who lost their job through a fault of their own may not give you the best of feedback on the employer. With this in mind you should try to speak to as many people as possible.
Failing that, you can try our next tip.
Check company review sites
This is by far and away, the easiest tip of the lot. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it works really well.
Websites like Glassdoor are a treasure trove of useful information for job hunters. You can find out a great deal not only about an employer in general but also specific roles within the company.
If you’re lucky enough to find a few reviews by people working in the role you are interested in, then you’ll learn a lot more about the true nature of the position. The responsibilities, the potential for career progression, and perhaps even what the tea and biscuit situation is like in the office. You know, all the really important stuff.
But as with speaking to people in your network, you must be aware of the fact that every employer will have at least one or two disgruntled employees. So make sure to take a look at the bigger picture and not focus too much on one person’s experience.
They say a company’s true worth is in its workforce, but leadership also plays a hugely important role too. Check who the company’s major decision makers are and see if you can discover anything about them online.
Look for mentions in industry-specific publications or see if they have appeared as guest speakers on podcasts, at webinars, or at live events. This will tell you a lot about how their peers in the industry perceive them and could even give you an insight into their leadership qualities. You can even narrow this search down to leaders of specific departments.
However, it’s important to note that if you can’t find anything online about a company’s leadership, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them. That said, you should be able to discover how the company or individual departments have fared under their stewardship. Have revenues increased? Have they opened new markets? Have they expanded to provide new services or products? This should be easy enough to find out.
Follow these five tips and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision on a potential employer. But make sure you do this before you apply for a role. Yes, it will take some time at the outset, but it will save you so much wasted time in the long run. Why complete an initial interview only to decide after your research that the company isn’t a good fit for you?
If you’re currently looking for a new role here in Ireland and are unsure about who you’d like to work for, get in touch with us — we only work with employers that truly value their employees.