Researching Employers

The dictionary definition of the word 'research' through a magnifying glass.

Researching employers is a vital part of the job application process, whether it’s to decide who to apply to, how best to tailor your application to the role or to impress an interviewer with your knowledge of the company.

What's the best way to research companies?

Try to find out as much as you can about employers before you apply to them, such as:

  • what the employer does, e.g. their main areas of business or objectives, and who their customers/competitors are;
  • current issues affecting the employer's business e.g. stock market trends, government legislation, company mergers;
  • what the job you are applying for involves;
  • the skills and experience the employer is looking for.

Visit employers’ websites - in particular, read up on their latest news and look at sections such as About Us, Media or Press Centre. Graduate employers often have a dedicated Careers section which can include case studies and graduate profiles.


The following resources can provide practical help, advice and information to help you with your research:

General
Business directories/databases
  • Kompass - business information provider.
  • Northcote Internet - free online research tool for listed company information. Also provides company information including financial reports, webcasts and press releases.
  • Yell.com
  • Robinson Library – search online databases such as Mintel and Nexis for business intelligence and market research reports
  • Companies House: WebCheck - search for information on over 2 million companies.
News sources

Search for news stories about the company you are applying to and keep up to date with industry news.

You can find more sources of news in newspapers and magazines.

Meet employers

Use every opportunity to meet and network with employers at:

Some professional associations offer membership for students and often hold events, which could provide a chance to meet established professionals. A recent Guardian Careers article talks about the benefits of joining a professional association whilst at university (Nov 2012).

A number of companies use social networking for business purposes, including recruiting. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be useful for researching employers.

Just be careful, however, when using these sites, as employers are increasingly searching the internet before selecting candidates. There have been cases where employers have withdrawn job offers to people who have made inappropriate or negative comments about the company or its staff.

Make sure that whatever you write on a public website is something that you would be happy for a potential recruiter to see. Also see the Gradplus article Graduate Job hunters urged to watch their internet footprint

Takeaway resources available in the Careers Service

Supplies of these publications are occasionally limited, but reference copies are available.

  • Prospects directory
  • TARGETjobs GET directory
  • Times Top 100
  • TARGETjobs sector publications

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