Powerful ways to research companies

How important is researching a company you want to work for? Some say pretty important. We think it's absolutely vital.

I have a friend who spends hours each day researching companies on the internet to find "winners" to add to his share portfolio. He looks at everything: cash to debt ratios, new product developments, press releases, shareholder information, etc. He probably knows more about these companies than most of the employees -� or potential employees, come to think of it.

My point is this: the internet is full of websites for companies large and small. On these websites you can find all sorts of information that helps you understand your potential employer. You can use this information to make you STAND OUT from the crowd by bringing it up in the interview.

Saying something like: "I see you�ve just been awarded a patent for your xyz technology, you must be proud of that!", not only shows you have done some research, it makes you look like someone who wants to work for the company and is not simply looking for any old job.

Remember that the interview process is a battle of perception and is not simply limited to facts and figures. As one executive chef described it to me:

We have won nearly every award possible when it comes to restaurants. So one question I ask a chef who wants to work for us is: why? Why do you want to work for us? If they don't mention our awards in their response then I instantly know they simply want a job. Responses like 'my wife and I want to relocate to this area' simply leave me cold. There's nothing in that response for me. One click to our website and you'd see all our awards plus customer comments and reviews on our restaurant. I want someone who wants to be part of all that and can help us continue our reputation into the future.

Makes sense to me. So spend some time researching the company and get to know everything you can about what makes it tick. While you're searching the internet, find other companies that do similar things and send them a letter as well. You never know what could come out of that. Employers are always on the look-out for good staff. You'd be surprised at how often they would like to get rid of a bad staff member, but need a good reason to do it. Often that motivation comes in the form of a good candidate or application turning up on the doorstep at the right moment.

Example 1

One of our readers wanted a job with a particular insurance company. A quick trip to their website revealed a treasure trove of information that would have focused any application effectively. Here's a snippet: "At XPZ, responding to the life and health needs of Americans isn't just about business. It's about responsibility. We care about our commitment to you and strive to project that dedication through our products and services."

Things like this suggest language and phrasing to adopt for your application, a mindset to try on, a business outlook and so on. We quickly suggested to our reader that they start their letter as follows:

Dear sir,

I know you have hundreds of applications talking about how they will be the best person to sell your products. I realize that you don't sell products at all. You sell peace of mind, integrity and commitment. With this in mind, I would like to show you how I think me and my experience can help you do this...

While not a particularly powerful introduction, consider how it matches the language on their website. The letter is now much more likely to generate a positive response from the HR division as it reveals the writer to be a person who shares the values of the company. (And it did get the writer a job offer)

Example 2

A reader wanted a position at a firm called Ultimate Electronics and didn't know where to begin. We did some research for them and found that the company had experienced a very rough Holiday period which really drove down its share price. With this in mind, we suggested to the reader that they use a cover letter introduction like this:

Dear ............,

I see you've had a bad holiday trade season which has affected your share price. I believe my training expertise can get you the results you and your investors are looking for. In fact my customer service training experience is almost exactly like training your customers to spend more. I have training experience with some of the biggest names in the electronics business like PANASONIC.......

We used a little research to take the letter in a direction that would definitely have gotten a sales manager's undivided attention. What do you think? Do you think with a strong solid direction like that you'd be able to finish the letter?

Let's give you another example or two, just in case you're still hungry. :)

Example 3

A very simple strategy which nobody takes advantage of is to use a company's motto in their cover letter in some way. It may sound like a cheap shot, but I assure you, it works and works well.

This example refers to a company who used "A Quest for Excellence" as their corporate motto. We tried to merge it seamlessly into an introduction to make it seem like our applicant was speaking in the same "language" purely coincidentally.

Dear .....,

I have exactly the talents and skills your company is looking for to reduce costs, create better production methods and innovative products that all add up to a company that LEADS the industry and leaves competitors in the dust. In short, a project manager who can give you your company mission a quest for excellence.

Example 4

Here's another good one. We landed on the company's page http://www.americangreetings.com/corp/index.pd and without much effort at all we were able to note down dozens of useful nuggets for the applicant to use in both their letter and at the interview.

Here is their mission: "Our mission is to become the premier personalized content delivery company on the web, providing communication & commerce solutions to our customers and partners through a broad selection of content, features, and functionality."

So there you have it. Check out the link of any company you'd like to work for, and literally picture yourself working for them. Get comfortable with their language, their goals, and most importantly, the image of yourself being a part of their team, and the job will be yours.

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For the past 10 years we have worked with job candidates from executive level to long term unemployed and we developed strategies, books and innovative technology that ENHANCES any candidate's image.