Secrets to Researching Your Next Career Move
You all know that great research is a critical step in your job search process. Duh, right? So, why do career coaches, like me, continue to talk about it? It is because we are continuously surprised at the lack of research performed by job seekers every day.
I believe there are two main triggers to inadequately researching your next career move:
- One: It’s easy to skip. No one will know, right? Wrong! It shows in your application, your networking, and your interview (if you are fortunate to earn an interview).
- Two: Job seekers are overwhelmed with the amount of research available and the hours it takes to find the right research. So, it’s too easy to say: “I’ll do the research later, once I get the interview.” Sound familiar?
News flash: To compete for your next great career move, conducting up–front research on potential employers is mandatory. Therefore, I want to help you be more efficient, so you learn to conduct research early and often.
With so much content and information available on the internet, there is no excuse for not researching before applying for a position and before an interview. The challenge is to create and follow a research process for both applications and interviews that is effective. I have two tried and true tricks for conducting job search and interview research:
- Trick #1: Organize the research. Over time, many job seekers will apply to more than one position within a single company. Organize the research by individual position but keep a separate file of the entire company that can be re-used each time a position is applied for. Copy over the same company research into the file and add the research about each specific job.
- Trick #2: During the research, take notes, highlight key points, and don’t rely on memory. Write down at least three key points for every company or specific job. Collect information such as: the overall industry, the major competitors in that space, trends, company structure, etc. Then refer to these three points in the application or bring them into the interview, or both.
Mistakes and Excuses
I have observed many mistakes and excuses that job seekers make when it comes to research.
- Mistake #1: Doing nothing at all. Not doing research prior to critical meetings such as phone screenings, conversations with a networker, phone interviews, or face–to–face interviews. Research must be done at every step of the way.
- Mistake #2: Not taking notes. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am going to repeat it because it’s so important: Take notes during research and interviews.
- Mistake #3: Researching the wrong information. For example, when interviewing with a company like, General Electric, it’s not enough to say GE builds solutions in energy health and home transportation and finance. That’s right from that company’s overview page and doesn’t show research effort. Spend hours, not minutes, conducting research.
Do not make the excuse that there is no time to research. The company and the hiring manager are taking the time to write the job description, identify the skills they’re looking for, and interview candidates. To win the job and show respect for their offer of employment, you can make the time.
What to Research
Now that you know how important research is, start by looking up information related to the industry at large, customer types, and competitors. Then delve into the company; look up their corporate structure, and divisions, their culture and values, and their products. Research online for top executive speeches, announcements, press releases issued, and articles written about this company.
As you research the organization’s structure and its people, go to LinkedIn to read about the hiring manager or any of the interviewers that you may with whom you may have contact. Every little bit of information helps.
In summary, the purpose of all of this is, of course, to ace the interview and land the job. So, whether it’s a phone interview, face–to–face, or video call, be prepared by doing the upfront research. Go get ‘em!