microscopeWhether starting a career right out of school, transferring careers to something more suitable, or restarting a career after a layoff, before changing your lifestyle and settling in for a new position it is critical to research employers before making a big commitment. In addition to important questions regarding company ownership, sales and earnings forecasts, industry reputation, growth strategy, and employee experience, it is also crucial to discover the viability of a company into the future and whether an organization offers a culture you into which you can grow. To this end, there are several authoritative resources that help give an idea of the nature of the employer beyond the optimistic sales pitch given by a hiring manager or recruiter.

  • Given the growing prevalence of social media within the employment sphere, and the subsequent use of such networks for corporate image construction and recruitment, sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are valuable resources when researching a company. A large variety of organizations have social profiles where the post regular updates about company news, press releases, and career opportunities. Consumers and employees are also usually able to provide feedback on a company’s products or work environment, giving an enlightening glimpse at how the company works.
  • Publicly traded companies are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to provide financial data to the public. Powerful web-based research tools such as Freeedgar.com allow individuals to view any company’s SEC filings. Financial data may also be requested directly from the SEC’s website or snail mail.
  • Business-to-business services, such as Hoovers.com, offer databases containing millions of companies, all of which can be searched directly from the websites search engine. Other resources include business directories such as Business.com and Forbes.com.
  • Websites offering “insider” perspectives from employees contain reviews and profiles of thousands of organization. Resources such as Vault.com and Glassdoor.com host reviews and opinions from current and past employees.
  • Websites featuring annual financial reports, such as Annualreportservice.com and Info.com, provide information regarding corporate earnings and how the numbers compare to those expected by a given company.
  • Business news coverage websites such as Businesswire.com and PRnewswire.com provide large search engines containing thousands of news releases from companies in any number of industries.  Other news sites, such as Bloomberg.com, offer unbiased business stories that examine many aspects of business behavior and reveal potential red flags about companies going wrong.
  • Finally, contacting regional business experts, such as local and region chambers of commerce, may not only help clarify information about a company, region, or industry, but also work to expand your professional network. Local news papers can also be good resources for information such as layoffs and corporate misadventure.

Using several or all of the available resources can help create an appropriate context in which to judge a company’s present condition and future direction. Not only does this information give an upper hand in an interview situation, but also helps during the decision-making process when determining whether a job offer is truly the best option.

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