How to research a company when applying to roles

JodieApplications, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, Postgraduate, Second Year

Two students sitting on a bench outside. One's sitting in front of a laptop and the other is taking notes in a notebook

Before you apply for a particular job, it’s really worth spending some time doing some research beforehand. Not only will this help you to decide if it’s somewhere you’d like to work, you’ll also be able to impress employers with everything you know about the company at the application and interview stages. Here are some things you can do to get a feel for the companies you’re interested in.

What you should be looking for

Before you get stuck into the research, make a list of the things you want to find out about the company so you can make your research as effective as possible. Here are some things you should try to find out:

  • What does the company do? What are their unique selling points and what makes them different from their competitors?
  • What sector are they aligned to?
  • Where is the company located?
  • How big is the team?
  • What’s the history of the company? What have been their major successes?
  • What products and services do they offer?
  • Who are their clients and/or target audience?
  • What’s the company’s mission, values and ethos – and do they fit with yours?

Read their website

This is the easiest way to find out about a company. Have a look at the work they do, their objectives, the strategy, their blog (if they have one!) and the people that work there. If they have a mailing list, you could subscribe to that to keep in the loop with any company updates, job opportunities or upcoming insight events. If they have a podcast, listen to some recent episodes. You could also look at their careers section to give you an idea of the roles in the company. Their website will give you a real flavour for culture of the company.

Follow them on social media

Take a look at their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. This is where companies will share news stories (this knowledge will come in handy in interviews!) and opportunities. Many companies will use social media as a way of giving a look ‘behind the scenes’ – this will help you decide if it’s somewhere you feel you would fit in.

Visit their LinkedIn profile

Search for the company on LinkedIn. On their profile, you will be able to see a summary of the company, the year it was founded, their website, location, the company size, as well as any recent updates. You can also see if you have any connections with the company. If you do, get in touch and ask them about their experiences of working there.

Use company information websites

There are websites that you can use to research a company. At Glassdoor, you can search a company and read reviews, view their current jobs, read about peoples’ interview experiences and more.

TARGETjobs also have a handy employer hub section on their website which includes profiles for the top graduate employers which draw together advice and information about career opportunities to help you research who you want to work for and apply successfully.

Check out their publications and/or products

Does the company you have your eye on publish a magazine? Maybe they run an app? Or perhaps they’re responsible for a national marketing campaign? Spend some time familiarising yourself with their products and projects to see if it’s something you’d be excited to work on yourself.

Look for news

Google the name of the company and check out the news results that come up for them. It might be helpful to also look for news about the industry they work in too – this will give you a broader understanding of developments or challenges in the industry which it might be useful for you to reference in your interview.

Record all your findings

It’s a good idea to have a document or spreadsheet on the go where you can record all the information you find out about each company. Future you will thank you for this when it’s time to fill in the application form or prep for an interview. You can set up your own document or use this handy checklist template that TARGETjobs have created.

Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels

Jodie, a member of Careers+Placements staff

Written by Jodie Carpenter, Careers and Placements