Organizational research is an essential component of your job search. Depending upon where you are in the job search process, you will need to research different information.
Level one: Basic Data Gathering.
- Identify lists of organizations to approach for possible employment opportunities.
- Try searching for companies online by location, industry, or keywords and by contacting the Chamber of Commerce in cities of interest to you.
Level two: Acquire Knowledge about Specific Organizations.
- This permits you to eliminate the organizations that do not interest you and to write more persuasive, customized résumés and cover letters to the organizations you will pursue.
- In general, you should determine the logistical, cultural, historical, and financial information about the organization, as well as any current news affecting the organization.
- Questions to ask: Where is the organization located? How many employees does it have? What industry is it in? What contributions does it make to the industry or field? What types of positions are available in this organization? What types of people work for this organization?
Level three: Sophisticated Understanding of Organization.
- In order to succeed in an interview, you must assimilate additional information about the organization and use this information to understand how YOU could be valuable to the organization.
- Informational interviews and detailed research are required at this stage.
- Determine the organization's values, culture, and mission and be knowledgeable about the products or services the organization produces
Resources for Organizational Research
The easiest way to conduct initial research is by using the Internet. Most companies have a Web site that provides general information about the organization, such as location, industry, departments, and contact information. You will also learn about the history, philosophy, products, services, goals, objectives, structure, achievements, and contributions.
You should look beyond the organization's Web site, however, since this can be a biased source of information. Look to other sources for additional information and fresh perspectives. Some suggested resources include:
- The Business and Economics Library: Provides a number of tools for researching companies. Check out the “Fast Answers” link.
- LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations: Provides information about larger companies and understanding of corporate hierarchy and relationship with subsidiary and parent companies.
- Vault: Career information web site, providing employee surveys of top employers, career advice, job listings, and career guides to individual industries.
- LinkedIn: Company Profiles provide information about availalbe positions, hiring activity, and first and second degree connections to the company.