Employer research, it's critical to making the best applications

I know research is probably not the most fun thing to do but employer research is a must. Especially before you begin any application forms, CVs or cover letters.

With the pressure on for uni work, last minute applications and the rest of your life, employer research can seem like a pretty insignificant part and a big time waster. But it really isn’t. If you want to give yourself an added edge, make the best choices and appear informed you need to find some time to fit it in. Recruiters will expect you to have some understanding and awareness of their organisation and sector.

If you make the research bite-sized chunks, it won’t feel like such a massive task. So, in order to be practical and efficient in your graduate employer research you should focus your investigations on these 3 areas;


1. Company background information:

  • What the company does (products made/services provided)- get familiar with the ins and outs of the company (this will help you to decide if it is the company you want to be in).

  • Where it is located- its headquarters, and the countries in which countries it operates .

  • Company history and defining moments- when it began and who the founder is, some main points in history for it (when they first went multinational, if it had any setbacks, etc.).

  • Who its customers/clients are- they may not show all of them, so try to find 5-10 of the main, biggest, clients.

  • Where it operates and in which markets- global and local, make sure you know their biggest operating areas (countries, towns, etc.)

  • Who its main competitors are- this is really important to know, especially if the company is a start up. Also very important to know HOW it differs to the competition, in product/ service, marketing schemes, sizes, etc.

  • How, where and why it is growing- have an understanding of the movement of the company and will help you understand the skill sets they may be looking for.

  • Big news from the last year to two years-  new launches, effects of the economy, regulatory changes, mergers and acquisitions, etc.


2. Recruitment information:

  • What roles are available for graduates and what the scheme or job involves- look at the company careers availability and the job description

  • What degree background, qualifications, competences and specific skills are required-  found in the minimum requirements of the job description

  • What the recruitment process involves- type of application and stages, this is important for you to prepare for the different stages

  • Contact details for applying- know who you are applying to and make sure you spell their names right.

  • The application deadline- make sure to note it down so that you are prepared for it and don’t miss it.


3. Company culture:

  • Find out about the company’s ‘core values’ and aims- important for your application, tying these into your own beliefs and skills.

  • Think about how the company likes to see itself- public image is a massive thing for some companies.

  • Consider how it is viewed externally- compare how they want to be seen and how they are seen, important understanding to have for applications.

  • Review any personnel policies- it can highlight what they are looking for in employees.

  • Think about how you view the organisation- helps you to identify if this is the right company for you and help your application.

  • Ask yourself why working for the employer appeals- this is important for interview and application prep as you will be able to answer questions on it.


Where can you find the information

The company's website is the first port of call, make sure to look at both the main corporation website and the careers section. Also read any recent press releases, financial and market reports, and any news articles. Like any good essay, you should draw on a range of sources to get at the bigger picture of the market segment and company. If it helps, set a date and time to regularly check the relevant industry and business sector news on quality newspapers and online magazines.

Your university’s careers service can also be a very helpful site for researching your company. They hold information from employer sites and know alumni’s placed in the company that can give you an insider’s view. They also know when employers will be visiting campus, at fairs or presentations.

Whilst Google is a friend and can be super helpful, make sure that you choose trusted and respectable sites to do the main searching. Social media and networking sites could add interesting twists, but may not be as useful or as reliable as other sites. Just think of this like researching for an essay. Pick the right sites, don’t get caught up in the black hole that is the internet.


Use your own words

Literally copying and pasting phrases directly from employers websites into your applications, or just learning them off by heart for interviews, is not going to fly. While doing your research try to summarise what you find in your own words, it will look better to recruiters if you bring your own thinking and understanding of the information.

You won’t be able to do everything, understandably, but even the smallest amount of research (be it focused not random) will boost your chances of getting the job and give you the confidence to make decisions.



Creating a checklist for each company can help you to keep track of information you find as well as creating a reference log for all your research which you can refer back to for your applications, interviews and assessments.