Researching a Potential Employer? Here’s What to Look for.

December 20th, 2019

Before you get dressed and ready to roll on the day of your job interview, you’ll want to spend some time researching the company so that you can impress your potential managers with your knowledge of the organization, its culture, and your potential role here. But AFTER the interview, when you have an offer in hand, and you need to decide whether to sign on the line, your research matters even more.

Here are a few things you’ll want to search for at each stage of the process. Remember: smart career management always starts with planning, preparation, and informed decisions.

What do these managers admire, and what qualities do they prize?

To answer questions like these, start by scrutinizing the job post. Read between the lines and look for words or phrases that appear more than once.  Then go online and look for the kinds of words and cultural expressions the company likes to associate with its brand. If, for example, you’re researching a service provider and you see lots of references to speed and quick response times, that’s a signal. If you see a few references to speedy service but lots of emphasis on quality work or a personal touch, make a note of it. In the second case, your managers may prefer an employee who gets things right over one who does things fast.

How does the company make money?

Do your best to understand the company’s business model fully. In our modern world, that can sometimes take a close look and a little effort. Media organizations often make money by selling ads, not delivering information. Bulk retailers often make money selling subscriptions and memberships, not necessarily products. Insurance providers, solutions architects, and third-party agencies often have business models and departmental structures that are not clear at a glance. A little homework can help you impress.

Does this company share your values?

There are few things more disheartening then accepting a job and finding out only months or years later that you’ve signed on with a company that’s committed to personal values you don’t share. If you aren’t sure where this organization and its leadership stand on the issues that matter most to you, from the specific (like politics) to the general (like kindness, giving back, or community service), consult the internet. Scrolling through search results and news articles can give you a sense of what – if anything – this company stands for beyond making money for its shareholders.

Understand the organization you’re dealing with, what you can offer them, and what they can provide you with. For help, turn to the career management team at PSU.

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