Working for the right employer can be an important part of your happiness and success in a job. If you like, relate to, and believe in an employer’s mission, you will feel that your work makes a contribution. If you are interested in what an employer offers, creates, produces, or sells, you will be more connected to your work and the workplace. If you feel an employer values and respects you, your coworkers, its customers, and its work, you will feel proud to work there. If an employer offers a work environment, opportunities, and benefits that match your desires and needs, it’s likely you will be satisfied.
So not only is it essential to apply for jobs that match your skills and interests, it is crucial to find employers and work environments that suit you as well. For example, early in my career I was a copywriter for automotive parts. I loved the writing. But I did not enjoy writing about mufflers and car batteries. It was difficult for me to get enthusiastic about another tonneau cover or car top carrier. From this experience and others, I learned that the right employer is just as important as the right job.
That’s why employer research is critical in your job search. If you discover an employer doesn’t suit you in key ways, it’s better not to apply for a job opening there at all. Why waste your time and theirs? Instead, target employers you know are a better match. You may be applying for fewer jobs, but chances are you will be hired more quickly because of good fit.
So how can you do employer research? Here are some suggestions:
- Scour online sources. Review the organization’s website, social media, blogs, news releases, and reports. You will learn about the employer’s purpose, focus, direction, size, growth, products, and financial situation. Many employer websites offer information for prospective employees on opportunities, benefits, and culture. Other sites, such as news outlets, may provide overviews, insights, and customer reviews.
- Employer ratings on job search sites. Job search sites may give ratings and reviews from past and current employees. Take comments with a grain of salt but still read them.
- Talk to others who work or have worked there. By talking with current and past employers, you may get the inside scoop on issues that are sometimes hard to learn about in any other way, such as expectations, culture, work hours, workload, managers, work environment, stress, company flexibility, pay levels, communication, and organization. Perhaps you can also make a networking connection this way.
- Read your local news, particularly the business news. You can often uncover details about an organization’s activities and plans from the media. Has the company bought a building, launched new products, or announced growth plans? Conversely, has an organization been hit with lawsuits or downsized? Let any such information help you decide whether to apply for a job with a certain company.
- Network with professional associations and career-focused groups. Associations and online groups that focus on your field have members that work or have worked for many different organizations. You may be able to uncover the best employers—and learn the ones to avoid.