Research the companies that will be participating in the Career Forum. Familiarize yourself with their company profiles, available positions and application requirements. The more you know about a company and the types of positions they hire for, the better you will come across to the employer.
How do you begin researching companies?
After you have checked the participating company list, start researching more about the companies through company websites, news articles, press releases, magazine, etc. This may seem like a tedious process, but researching will help you put into perspective what you want to do and facts to back up why you are interested.
Job searching is broken down into 3 steps.
1. Learning about yourself
2. Learning about the other person (company/industry research)
3. Taking action (applying, participating in Career Forums, interviewing, networking, etc.)
Researching companies is the second step, an important step that cannot be skipped.
Learning about the company is not the only part about researching companies. By learning about the company, it should help you learn more about yourself and find and confirm your interests and desires when deciding on your career. This is especially important during your interviews. Not only will the company be looking at your potential, they will also be determining whether or not you will be successful as their employee. Even if you do not have any work experience, being able to express what kind of an employee you will be in the future, the career you want to pursue, and how you will grow at the company will definitely help the recruiters visualize you as their employee.
Please remember that researching companies should be a fun process. It should be a time to learn what kinds of companies are out there and learn what you like and don't like. You may find out things about yourself that you never realized. It may also help you visualize what you want to be doing couple years from now. Having facts to back up the initial interest will prevent you from having “this isn't what I imagined” regrets later on.
Guideline on researching companies
So how do you go about researching companies? First, start by finding companies within industries that you might have an interest in. Out of those, if there are any companies that interests you, start learning more about the companies itself. For each company, check how the company is organized, its business model, as well as its competitors.
First learn what kinds of products/services the company produces and understand their target market. Then research how they operate, such as their supply chain. A supply chain is the flow of a product or service, which includes purchasing, producing, distributing and the selling of the product. Not all companies in the same industry operate the same way. Make sure to understand each company's operation strategy.
Company Policy and Management Strategies
Next, understand the company's business strategies and policies. How do they compete in the industry/market? Is their strategy to differentiate and deliver a unique service/product to their competitors? Or do they compete by cutting the price as low as possible. Or, do they target and focus their product to a particular niche in the market? The company's style and policies vary according to such management strategy, so be sure to do your homework here as well.
Understanding the company's unique place in the industry and their competitors
It is easier to understand the company's place in the industry when you do some research on its competitors. Learn the strengths and weaknesses compared to its rivals, and find out more on the company's style and policies. For example, what is the competition like in the industry; does one major company hold a monopoly in the market, or is there ample room for other rivals and new companies and innovations to compete? Knowing this will give you more insight into the current characteristics and future possibilities of that company. Is the company what you expected and imagined; why are you interested; can you imagine yourself working there every day? Thinking of these questions as you research companies will gradually give you a clearer and more genuine idea of why you are interested in that company and/or industry. Once you narrow down your companies of interest, next think which company is the best fit for you.
Consider these factors when making this decision:
1. Compensation and Benefits (Salary, Traveling, Location, Work Hours, and other Interests)
2. Company Policy and Culture
3. Job responsibilities
4. Your short and long term career goals
Remember how you had to consider numerous factors when selecting a college? Academics, extracurricular activities, school culture, location, etc. Likewise, start to think about and prioritize what you want from your job/career. When you think about it, you will be spending a third or almost half your day at work. With a well thought career plan, you can make a choice that you can stick with even with long hours or when your job becomes difficult. To maintain a healthy sense of motivation when you start working, it is important to start imagining and planning your future carefully now.
Though going online and checking out company websites can be quite informing, it is vital to get information from other sources related to the company or industry, such as from newspapers and magazines. You can always check out bookstores, libraries, and of course, make use of your school Career Center.
For example, at Vault.com or Wetfeet.com, you can purchase books on specific information on various industries and companies. They also have features on interviewing tips and resources on what a regular day at work would be like.
In addition, check out opinions from current employees on a company's strengths, weaknesses, potential, work environment, benefits, etc. As a student looking for work abroad and unable to get first- hand worker's opinions, such websites will be extremely helpful.
First hand opinions are perhaps the most informative source at times. Many school Career Centers provide lists and means to network with the school's Alumni. Ask how you can get in touch and conduct an informal interview with these graduates. And don't be shy – most people are usually happy to talk about their own experiences and share their knowledge.
Researching companies and knowing yourself become the foundation to preparing for your interview as well. The more you research companies, the more you gain insight into your own interest and knowledge on what companies will best bring out your fullest potential. It will also help you answer that critical question, “Why this job, why this company” more convincingly and with more passion, setting you apart from other candidates.