When writing a paper, research is a fundamental expectation of the process. Why should applying for jobs be any different?
Conducting research during the job search process is different from trolling the library or online article database. However, research, before preparing an application, can go a long way toward making you more competitive.
The goal of the research is to understand three key elements related to the job you're applying for:
- The job/profession
- The company
- The industry
The stronger your research, the more effectively you can develop and tailor your applications documents.
The Job — Know as much as you can about what you are applying for before you apply. Some job announcements are unclear or incomplete—learn more! Unless stated otherwise, contact the company to fill in the blanks.
In addition to knowing about the specific job, you should know about the profession you are considering. Visit the professional association related to the job you are seeking. For example, you can simply Google, "professional association of social workers" to find likely suspects. There is usually a wealth of information, including career paths, education requirements, ethical standards, policy stances, etc.
Conducting an informational interview helps you acquire knowledge and understanding of the profession and also helps you network within the field.
The Company — Not demonstrating familiarity with the targeted company is an easy reason for an employer not to hire you. Review the company's website to learn more about their mission, history, etc. You can find information through GoingGlobal's Employer Profiles and through Mergent Online, available on the library's website under "find articles and other info." A quick suggestion: know the stock symbol and current price for any publicly traded company.
The Industry — Using the same professional associations and resources that you accessed for the company search, spend time understanding the industry you are seeking to join. Having a broad understanding of industry trends, best practices, legal and ethical issues, and latest news can show a potential employer you are intelligent and willing to put in the hard work necessary to succeed on the job.
One of the best ways to conduct quality research is to speak to or email professionals in the field. Be sure you are networking!