how to research a company

We are all too familiar with this scenario – spotting a job opportunity that seems tailor-made for us and hastily diving into the application process. This common oversight can be rather expensive. Understanding how to research a company before submitting your application is crucial, as this helps you evaluate your compatibility with the role and the company.

Taking into account things like the company’s culture, industry trends, and market positioning can give you an idea of how you can contribute and influence your potential role. Conducting thorough company research doesn’t merely equip you for an interview; it distinguishes you from other candidates, demonstrating to your prospective employer that you are the perfect fit.

This article will guide you in researching a company, delving into its history, offerings, competition, financial health, challenges, work-life balance, and employee retention rates – all significant factors that can shape your job search.

Company’s Background and History

Company mission, vision, culture, and values – how do each of these align with your vision, values, and mission? When looking up a company’s background and history, look for companies that share your values by reviewing the mission statement. Search for information about its founding story, significant milestones, and any awards and recognitions it has received. You can start at the source by reviewing the company’s website and LinkedIn pages.

Description of Products and Services

As a job seeker, an important step when researching potential employers is looking into the company’s products and services currently offered in the marketplace and comparing them to their competitors. When a company or business releases a brand-new line of products, a product press release announcement is often used to announce features, pricing, and availability details.

To understand how the company’s performance compares to competitors in the marketplace, analyze the competitors to obtain valuable information about how the products and services meet the consumers’ needs.

Company’s Top Competitors

Once the industry is known, researching the company’s competitors can be done by looking up the company’s profile on business directories such as Hoovers, Manta, and Dun & Bradstreet. These directories provide information about the company’s market share, customer base, and competitors. Additionally, searching for a company’s competitors on Google or other search engines (online communities on social media or community forums) can provide information about the company’s competition. 

Company’s Size and Industry

Search for the company’s financial documents, such as its annual report and 10-K filing, within the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database to get further information on its size and market share. Other resources are helpful, such as industry reports by IBIS World and market research studies by Nielsen, to gain insight into the company’s size and market share compared to its competitors. For additional market research companies, check the American Marketing Association’s website here, and you can view the complete industry list here.

Financial Health, History, and Stability, Including Revenue and Investors

Does the company have a record of layoffs and cutbacks? Are they making headlines for the right reasons?

When considering a potential employer, it’s essential to understand the company’s financial health and major investors to gain insight into the current financial situation and its potential for future growth, providing clues about its stability and growth prospects.

Fortunately, this information is readily available on the web. To start, look for the company’s most recent financial statements. This is typically available on the company’s website under the investor relations section. If not, you can find financial statements on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database. Here, you can find a company’s annual report, quarterly reports, and other financial information that provides a snapshot of the company’s overall financial health. Next, look into the company’s investors by reviewing the company’s 13F-HR filing, which lists the company’s major institutional investors. This filing will list the company’s major investors, including the amount of stock they own.

Company’s Major Challenges

To uncover major challenges a company is trying to solve, visit their website, read press releases, and follow their social accounts to understand their goals and objectives.

Look for statements about new initiatives or technology investments. Pay close attention to any changes in the company’s direction or new products they are launching.

These can all provide valuable insight into the challenges the company is facing. Current employees have a good understanding of the company’s current issues and can provide valuable insights. Ask about the biggest challenges the team is trying to solve and how they are being addressed.

Employee Turnover Rate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual turnover rate in the U.S. in 2021 was 47.2%. The turnover rate is valuable for understanding a company’s culture, employee satisfaction, and financial stability. A high turnover rate can signal that the company’s culture is not conducive to a healthy work environment or that employees are not feeling supported and valued. This can be a red flag indicating that the company may have financial issues. It also indicates that the company may have financial issues, as the cost of hiring a new employee to replace an existing one can be high, ranging from half to twice the employee’s annual salary.

There are a few different ways to calculate the turnover rate within a company. The most common way is to calculate the number of employees who left the company within a given period (usually a year) and divide that number by the average number of employees the company had during that period. This gives you the percentage of employees who left the company within a year. 

Another way is to look at the number of employees hired within a given period and divide that number by the average number of employees the company had during that period. This gives you the percentage of employees the company hired within a year. 

Remember that both methods are good ways to measure turnover rates, but they have their own strengths and weaknesses. The first method shows how many employees left the company within a year. However, it doesn’t consider how many employees were hired within a year. The second method considers how many employees were hired within a year but doesn’t give you a snapshot of how many employees left the company within a year.

Philosophy on Work/Life Balance

Will this position work well with your personal life? What are the expectations for availability outside of work hours?

To better understand a company’s work/life balance and whether it’s the right fit for you, ask someone there to share their experience and look for official statements, media coverage, and reviews from current and former employees from sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Learn about company culture and employee experiences through external websites like Fishbowl.

This can give you an insight into the atmosphere of the workplace and the values they prioritize. Sites like Glassdoor allow employees to post anonymous reviews of their employer, which can provide valuable insight into the work/life balance at the company.

Workplace Policies and Practices

Key employment policies include remote work, vacation time, sick leave, pay and benefits, layoffs, and hiring for companies to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations and make informed decisions about their workforce. 

A company’s remote work policies significantly affect employee morale and productivity. A recent study by the State of Remote Work Survey shows that 84.5% of companies intend to continue offering some remote work options after the global pandemic. It’s important to understand how often employees must be in the office, what systems are in place to ensure employees are working effectively away from the office, and how to handle the transition from in-office to remote work. 

When researching a company’s vacation time policies, consider the company’s policies on vacation pay, vacation leave, and the number of vacation days employees are allotted. Companies consider policies on how vacation time can be taken, such as whether employees can take time off instead of pay or if they are required to take it in full- or half-day increments. For sick leave policies, reviewing the amount of leave allotted, the processes in place to verify the illness, and any other stipulations that need to be considered is important. 

Review the company’s policies regarding wages, bonuses, and other forms of compensation and the benefits offered to employees to understand the impact of pay and benefits on employee retention and morale. Layoffs, reductions, and recall policies include how a company handles layoffs, severance packages, and any other processes that need to be in place when laying off employees. 

Due diligence is a process of research and evaluation that helps you determine if a company is the right fit for you. It involves researching the organization, the position, and the industry to understand the role and the company. Performing due diligence before applying for a job is essential to making an informed decision and maximizing your chances of success. 

As you identify a role of interest, we recommend reviewing for the company’s organizational chart to understand where a role sits in the organization, the functional divides, and the chain of command. This website provides the title and actual name of the person in part and shows you the org chart vacancies.

If you find a job posting online, you can visit the website to learn who the hiring manager is and see how many degrees of separation are from where decisions are made at the highest level. Understanding where your role fits in an organization is important before taking the job.

With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, learning as much as possible about the company, from its mission statement to current projects, is important to ensure the role fits you and your career goals well. 

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