Researching an employer

We have put together our top tips on gathering information about employers and where to do your research.  Researching a company is essential if you want your application to be successful.  The knowledge and understanding you gain through your research will help you target your applications, perform confidently at interview and show that you have a genuine interest in working for the company.  We have also provided advice and examples to help you target individual employers and demonstrate your interest and motivation, visit Targeting an employer - Making it personal to find out more.  

What information should I look for?

  • What does the company do? Look at the products and services offered.
  • Who are the key customers or clients?
  • The company's size and location, and whether it operate nationally or globally.
  • Who are the main competitors?
  • How, where and why is the company expanding or moving in to new areas.
  • Headline news from the last 18 months – new product launches, financial news, company strategy and structure.
  • What makes this company stand out? What are their unique selling points - what differentiates them from their competitors? 

What is the culture of the Company?

  • What are their values and ethos? Think how they fit with yours.
  • Think about how the company likes to see itself.
  • Consider how it is viewed by the sector and industry commentators.
  • Review their training and development opportunities in terms of career progression.
  • Think about how you view the organisation and ask yourself why working for the employer appeals to you.

Employer research is central to graduate job hunting success.

The temptation to skip the employer research can be strong, particularly if you’re up against the clock with application, degree or decision deadlines. However, if you want to give yourself the edge, appear informed and make the best choices, find some time to fit it in." - TargetJobs

Where to look for information on employers

The company’s website  

The company’s website is an important resource to help you know and understand the company’s mission and vision, new products, the latest annual or quarterly report. 

  • Read the company website and press releases for information about the company's history and progress: innovations, key milestones, mission or vision statements and corporate values.  This will increase your awareness of the organisation and the sector they work in.
  • Check out the careers or working with us page on the company's website.  You will find the latest vacancies and information on the application process, but also get an idea of what the company looks for in their employees, in terms of technical skills or personal attributes.

However, to really impress you need to go further.  When you’re setting out to research a potential employer, this is the question you want to keep in mind - "Tell me something about our company that you couldn't find on our website?"

We would always suggest that you start with a web search, this is a great starting point to quickly find top news stories and sites, but an employer will expect you to do more.  We have provided some tips on how to go deeper and beyond a simple web search:

Industry news/blogs

  • Follow the news on industry-related publications, blogs, websites to find out what will affect the company you are researching and their competitors.  You can find potential sources of information by using the relevant Career Guide for your sector.
  • Check the relevant industry and business sector tabs on the websites of quality newspapers and online industry magazines for in-depth information and analysis on the sector as a whole.  Find out all you can about the main players, current threats or opportunities, which companies are doing well, and so on.
  • When you search, be prepared to keep refining your search terms. You should try to add some key search terms to find information that might otherwise be hidden in your results. Try adding these: financial, reviews, strategy, competitors, forecast. Remember not every result will be relevant or reliable.

Review sites

  • Check TARGETjobs Employer Insights to see if the employer you're applying to is covered. These reviews survey graduate and interns recruits to find out what their workplaces are really like.
  • Sites like Glassdoor and The Job Crowd provide employee reviews on interviews, salaries, working environments, along with other insights.
  • Search to see if the company has a YouTube channel.

Social networks 

Social networking sites are another place you should be searching for background information. Most companies use Facebook and Twitter to post information that might not be immediately available on their website. Look out for information on employees, which will give you a real flavour for what it would be like to work there. 

  • Linkedin - Spend some time researching key people working for the company. The CEO and other senior leaders shape the company's direction, so know what their priorites are. You can also find out more about any articles or presentations that they have written or featured in. 
  • LinkedIn can help you research employees working in the area you are applying for, this might include those on your interview panel or recent graduates. You may find useful background information including shared interests or experience.
  • Use Twitter to follow people within companies you're interested in.
  • Use Facebook to find out more about their working culture. 

Finding comments on social networking sites could add interest to your research, but be careful about the reliability of your online sources of information.

Find further information and advice on the recruitment process:

Use our advice on researching employers to make sure that you feel confident and prepared at all stages of the application process.