An often overlooked component of launching an effective job or internship search is conducting research on prospective employers. Often postponed until the last minute, or not done at all by the less successful job seeker, savvy job hunter knows that a more effective strategy is gathering information before it is needed. Begin with a target list of companies that are of interest to you and delve into collecting facts about those organizations that will enable you to speak with confidence and put you ahead of your competitors.
Before the dawn of the internet, yet after the invention of the lightbulb, many a student, this writer included, would trudge to the library to gather facts about a particular organization. Sometimes these were exercises in futility and other times, a plethora of information was forthcoming…but at a price (subscription). Happily, with robust search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Ask, conducting research is merely keystrokes away from uncovering a wealth of useful information. Of course, the first stop in your research should be the company’s web site and don’t forget to look at their financial pages. I would also encourage you to read articles in the mainstream press about your target company as well as such information sources as the Better Business Bureau or government agencies.
Here are a few recommended websites that will help you get started in your quest: Glassdoor, Bloomberg Businessweek, Vault.com and for those interested in not-for-profit work, check out Idealist.org or OpportunityKnocks.org. A great article that will help inform your research can be found here.
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd of competitors is to conduct your research, formulate meaningful questions and dazzle them with your confidence and knowledge.