What’s the point?
For many students, research isn’t all that much fun. Research takes time, energy, and resources that you don’t have in abundance. But, company research might be the difference between getting a job, and not.
Increase your Marketability
Think about it from an interviewer’s perspective: you’re in an interview room with an intelligent SMU student. The student has some great experience, and presents himself or herself well. But, when you ask the student what they know about your company, the student goes blank. Contrasted with a student who knows about your company and has insightful questions, who would you give the job to? Applicants who know about the company display enthusiasm to interviewers, illustrating that you are invested in the interview process. To show your enthusiasm, try researching the following:
- Industry: Which products and services does the company provide?
- Size: Is the organization 100 employees, or 100,000?
- Financial strength: Private or public? Performing well?
- Growth: Is the company growing? How are sales? What are their goals?
- Hierarchy: Is there a complex, or flat organizational structure?
- Reputation: Is the company known for excellence? How are they known nationally? Locally?
- Competition: Is the company at the high or low end of its competitive set?
- Associations: Does the company support causes that you do?
Make an informed decision
Company research is also a great way to make an informed decision about the type of work you will be doing, the industry you want to specialize in, the corporate culture you like, and more. At the end of the day, you should know whether you want to work for a company before interviewing with them. If you decide you don’t want to work for someone, continue your research until you find an option that fits you. Some things to consider while doing your research include:
- Salary: Does the company compensate in line with your needs and expectations?
- Benefits: What is the package that is generally offered to new hires?
- Growth: How quickly can you move up?
- Education: Will the company support your continuing education goals?
- Review Process: How will your performance be measured?
- Culture: Will you like the people and environment at the company?
- Management: What are the credentials and qualifications of upper management?
- Location: Are there offices and opportunities in a place you could call home?
Researching your Connections
You should always be looking for connections between a company and yourself. Sometimes, these connections will be close family members and friends. Other times, you might be able to find SMU alumni on LinkedIn or create a connection through an informational interview.
Whether your connection is weak or strong, your goal should be to find information that will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the employer. This demonstration will go a long way towards making a good first impression. It will also help you to create better employer communications such as resumes and cover letters. In-depth research will allow you to tailor each of these documents to the position in question, and will better prepare you to talk about yourself during an interview.
Resources for your Research
SMU offers many resources to help you conduct company research effectively. These resources include Drop-in Hours and appointments at the Hegi Family Career Development Center, and training workshops on database research open to all students at the SMU | Business Information Center. To conduct further research visit the following web resources: