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The official online job search resource hosted By Dick Bolles, author of "What Color is Your Parachute"
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Company Research
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About Company Research
Once you have identified the industries that interest you, you will want to discover what companies, organizations, or businesses are in the field you've chosen, and in the geographical area where you would like to work. One of the best places to start, on or off the Internet, is always the Yellow Pages, and I have listed some sites that have Yellow Pages-type listings; but you should know that these are not a reproduction of the complete Yellow Pages phone book you get from the phone company. Internet versions tend to be incomplete, when compared with the actual, bona-fide, phone-company published Yellow Pages. The Internet will, of course, be helpful for the far away places that your phone book doesn't cover - so long as you remember it's not going to give you a complete listing of businesses there, either. Start by thinking broadly, in a geographical sense, and then move on to the other tools available to you.

To read more about researching companies on the Net, click on the "more info" box.

Company Research - Contact Information
A quick word about phone directories on the Internet: almost all are incomplete when compared to the phone book; and many of these sites use all kinds of tricks and gadgets to try to get money out of you. Don't fall for it; if you can't find the information you want for free, try another site, or another approach. Don't reach for your wallet at the first sign of frustration.

Company Research - Beyond Contact Information

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More On About Company Research
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Other than just identifying companies in your preferred area and industry (and maybe knowing the address so you can show up for the job interview), why should you research companies you are interested in?
  • First of all, you may be able to identify problems that the company has, that your skills can solve for them. Identify the person with the power to hire, explain to him why you are in his best interests, and you may find yourself employed. The depth of research this requires is often beyond what you can get sitting at your computer, but you can at least get the basics, and identify your next steps, through intelligent research on the Net.
  • If you have a job interview, learning all that you can about that organization reassures the interviewer that you cared enough to learn about the company before coming in for the interview. This involves research at its most basic level - their primary business, address, number of employees, etc. And the Internet is good at this basic sort of research.
  • You are also researching a company in order to protect yourself from making a horrible mistake -taking a job that you'll soon have to quit, because of something that you didn't know, or didn't bother to find out, before you started there. The purpose of this sort of research is to find these time bombs before you agree to take the job.
    In such a case, what do you want to know? Well, think of the jobs you've had in the past, and try to recall the moment when you were about to leave that job - your decision or theirs. What is it, at that moment, you wish you had known before you took the job? This will give you your research topics. Items which suggest themselves are such things as:
    • What the real goals of the place were, instead of the puffery they put in their annual report.
    • What 'the corporate culture' was like, there: cold and clammy, or warm and appreciative.
    • What kinds of timelines they conducted their work under, and whether they were flexible or inflexible.
    • What the job was really like.
    • Whether the skills you care the most about, in yourself, would really get used. Or was all that talk about 'your skills' just window dressing to lure you there - and you, with your rich people skills, ended up spending your time pushing paper?
    • More about the boss, and what she or he was like, to work for. Ditto for your immediate supervisor(s).
    • What your co-workers were like: easy to get along with, or difficult? And who was which?
    • How close the company or organization was to having to lay off people, or how tight your department's budget was.
So if those were the questions in your past, then they are also the questions for your future. If an organization interests you, these are the things you will want to research before you get a job offer there, if you get a job offer there.

Can the Internet help with this kind of research? It depends on how deep you want to go, and, in some cases, how much money you want to spend - but spending money is no guarantee that you will find out all you want to know. Face it: there's only so much the Internet can do. If you're going to go deeper, and find out the information you really want to know, you're going to need to supplement this online research with some offline research - meaning you'll have to go talk to people, using your contacts, to thoroughly research the companies that interest you. More on people in the Contacts & Networking chapter.

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