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Your Surfing Habits

3. You haven’t done your surfing homework
Last month we looked at how your social media may be costing you interviews, this month we are looking at how the Internet can really help you in your job searching. Obviously you can look for jobs online but you also need to research potential employers.
If you get an interview, get to a web browser as quick as you can. You need some basic information about the company to look: a) polite; b) professional; c) keen.
Find out at least:

  • Some history – when and where the company started.
  • Some facts – find out what they do, how they do it, who their clients are. Try to get a feel for the industry they are in and what their potential problems may be. If you can show that you have some understanding of the company if will make the interviewer feel that he/she won’t have to spend a fortune training you!

Where to look

Don’t trust any old entry on Wikipedia (they can be updated by anyone). As with all research, use a variety of sources, not just one.
The first place to start is the company’s own website. Read it thoroughly. Then look elsewhere on Google. If it is a large company, see if they are on the stock exchange and how their shares are doing. If it is small, check them on local listings sites, the Chamber of Commerce and other business sites. Get a feel for where they place themselves.
Check out their staff on sites such as LinkedIn. If the company is on there you will be able to see who the key employees are – the most ambitious will be on LinkedIn. This is all knowledge that could come in useful during an interview. If the person interviewing you is on LinkedIn you could mention that you saw them on there.
It is possible to get hold of any company’s accounts or annual reports, although it does cost. If you are going for a management job it would be a good investment though.
It is also acceptable to pop into the company. Tell the receptionist that you are researching for a job interview there and she/he will probably be more than willing to help you out with brochures and possibly even a bit of inside info!

Showing Your Knowledge
Don’t try to impress, it can come across as arrogance. Just have a conversation, both sharing, listening, responding. There is an old saying among writers that you shouldn’t let your research show. Your background knowledge should almost slip out in conversation and not be obvious.

Worst Case Scenario
Another reason for finding out about companies beforehand is that they may be a load of crooks. People have been caught out by moving from a permanent, secure job, to a new start-up with impressive promises, only for it to go out of business soon after and leave them out of work. These things can and do happen, and whether you go with a start-up depends on your willingness to take risks. If the early supporters of Microsoft or Google hadn’t been willing to take risks they would certainly have regretted it. But there are thousands of companies like Microsoft and Google who have failed along the way. If your home and family depend on you as sole earner it’s possibly not a risk you are willing to take.
The other thing that can come up in searches is dodgy credit history or directors of the company. If the company or its directors don’t have a good reputation, you are taking a risk moving to them. If you are out of work at the moment that isn’t a massive risk, but certainly giving up another job to move to a company with an uncertain future may not be the best thing.
It’s probably worth going to an  interview anyway, though, just for your own experience.
Your research when job hunting can also unearth some job opportunities and it helps you keep up-to-date in your industry.
Next month we’ll have the final instalment of this ‘Surfing Habits’ series: Spending Too Much Time Online.


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