August 24, 2012
Get the skinny on a company before you apply
How do you find out what it’s really like to work at a company you’re interested in? Plan on doing a little homework.
Experts say the best information comes from people already working at the company you’re considering. An honest evaluation from someone on the inside will give you the pros and cons and can also update you on the long-term growth opportunities or lack thereof.
But what if you don’t have access to someone who will or can give you that information? Here are some other sources of information:
“Nice place to work if you are in India.”
“Nice environment and cooperative staff.”
“Stress, stress, stress and nothing else.”
These are a sampling of postings by employees on online company-review sites. They give some insight into what it is really like to work in various firms.
Check out the company’s website. Look over the company presents itself. Does it do a good job of telling people who it is and what it does?
Go to the “About” link. There should be information on the goods and services the company provides, its history, its mission statement and, perhaps, its top staff.
Next, go to the “News” link. Find out the latest information about this firm. New products or services? Awards? Recognition? Long-term plans? Companies usually only focus on the good stuff, but you can determine whether the firm's mission and its products and services dovetail with your personal ethics and future plans.
Click on the “Staff” link and get the names of the top players, including the head of human resources, if possible. That person or his or her staff may interview you. Check these people out on LinkedIn to get a feel of their background, experience and training.
Check out the social-network pages (if the company has any). How does it present itself to business and general audiences?
Put the company’s name into major search engines. What pops up about the firm regarding products and services, employee recruitment and retention, customer satisfaction, financial stability or problems, etc.?
Pick up the latest issues of a few major business publications, such as Business Week, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal. How is the company depicted? Is this the place for you?
All this information can help you determine whether the company you’re considering is the right fit for you. It can also help, if you interview, by allowing you to tailor your answers to match your skills to the skills the company needs. And you will have better insight on how to position yourself as the best person for the job.
Marie Stempinski is founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg, Fla.
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