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:
- Exploring occupations - see the Vacancy sources and employers sections for each particular sector.
- TARGETjobs: Employer hubs - independent reviews about top graduate employers, including
what the jobs are like, company culture, selection procedures, and current news. See also Graduate employer research checklist - structured questions to help you research an employer.
- GradQuiz - insight into several top FTSE 350 employers, including advice on their recruitment processes.
- The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers
- Sunday Times 100 Best Companies 2014
- Guardian Careers article: How to research a prospective employer
- Vault - information resource for career management and job search, which includes employer profiles and rankings, and insider intelligence on salaries, hiring practices and company cultures.
- Best Companies Guide
- Grad Diary: Graduate employers - lists companies in a range of sectors, including banking, finance, law and consulting.
- Wetfeet - profiles of companies, careers and industries.
- Prospects – see Graduate Employers and Job sectors
- Inside Careers
- AllAboutCareers.com: A-Z of Graduate Employers
- WikiJob - includes information on employers and their recruitment procedures.
- theJobCrowd - read job reviews written by employees in a range of companies.
- Glassdoor - includes company reviews, salary information and past interview questions from a wide range of employers.
- Save the Graduate: employer profiles
- How to research a firm properly [pdf] - advice from Chambers and Partners focusing on researching law firms.
- Careerplayer - graduate employer directory and careers videos on a range of occupational sectors.
- Graduate Connections -
online networking tool of around 700 graduates who can give students/recent graduates information and advice about their job and the sector they work in. Search by job title, company or degree discipline. This resource is available on campus or to logged-in users off campus.
- What do graduates do? - data showing what Newcastle University graduates have gone on to do six months after graduation. This may give you some ideas about potential employers.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 Guardian Careers article talks about the benefits of joining a professional association whilst at university (Nov 2012). You can find advice on approaching people for help and information in Making contacts.
A number of companies use social networking for business purposes, including recruiting. Social media, particularly LinkedIn, 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