Get Nosy: The Seven Secrets of Job Research
Doing background research into a company, an industry or a role is an essential part of the job search process – not only to decide on appropriate employers, but also to dazzle them with your applications.
Here is how some thorough research can make all the difference:
By Shola Adenekan
Careers advisers and graduate recruiters agree that the starting point should be yourself. What are your abilities, interests and values?
Margaret Dane, chief executive of Britain’s Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services, says one of the main reasons people don’t get jobs is because they don’t really know what they want or why.
Every individual, she points out, is unique and so there are no absolute right answers.
Experts say that you should think about what you really want to do, what you like doing, what you do well and what you don’t – and not just in a professional or technical sense.
Know the role:
Once you have a clearer view of the type of job you are seeking, you need to learn what different companies and roles offer in terms of training and development, informal support such as mentoring and networking, and support in gaining professional qualifications.
Forget about job titles. What does the role actually involve?
Being a recruitment consultant may sound very glamorous, but a large part of your day may be spent cold-calling. Could you really handle that?
“You need an idea of the career structure offered by a particular job,” warns Paula Quinton-Jones, a careers adviser at the University of London, England. “Not only does this help you to decide whether or not this job will give you the career development you want, but it also provides a great answer to the question, ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’”
The best way to get the low-down on a particular job or organisation is to speak to somebody already working there. Your university alumni office can often put you in touch with graduates who are happy to share their experiences.
In addition, visit career open days and speak to careers advisers.
Why does the company do what it does? A thorough understanding of the company culture and values are essential; the nature of its business, what it entails and your day-to-day activities, should you be employed.
Experts say a correct perception of company culture will gives you an indication of the kind of person they are looking for. Do they want someone who is commercially driven or someone who is altruistic and can see others’ perspectives?
You are at an advantage if you have some understanding of the core business vision of an organisation and do some research about the values that the company holds.
Understand the Competition:
While an awareness of where the company fits in the marketplace is very important, you should also be looking at other employers in the industry and not just the organisation’s direct competitors.
Careers advisers point out that recruiters are keen to see that you know how they work in the context of the rest of the industry.
However, it is also very important that you have looked into all the options available as recruiters often ask why you have chosen their company or a large firm rather than a small one.
If you have weighed up all the available options you’ll give a much more convincing answer.
In other to stand out from thousands of applicants, you have to keep abreast of trends in an industry that interests you. If you want to work within the media industry or become in international relations, for example, you must be news savvy.
Employers often weed out people who have not done their homework. For example, they can ask what currency they trade in or which countries their overseas operations are based.
Use the Web:
Company websites are obvious but necessary resources – and a first port of call to decide if you and the firm are compatible. Most companies put relevant information on their websites, often gleaned from new staff.
But you should imaginative, don’t just look at the graduate recruitment section. ‘About us’ sections, detailing company philosophy, culture, ethics and mission statement are useful because you need to look for synergy between what you read about the company and how you’re selling your strengths.
Other important sections are the company’s history, news pages and descriptions of products, services and brands.
Adenekan owns and publishes the new black magazine
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