There are two sides to this Internet job research issue. Employment interviewers now expect you to know a whole lot more about their organization than they did before the Internet. The flip side is that the Internet is a wonderful place to do research. You can find all kinds of information out there about the companies, the industry, and key individuals.
Go on the company’s website, Google the company’s name and the name of the person who is going to interview you. Find people who used to work for the company on LinkedIn and find out what they can tell you. LinkedIn “conversations” tend to be email exchanges with people in your network or email introductions to people in another person’s network. Identify someone who does or did work for the company in one of your extended networks by searching on company name. Ask them what kind of company it is to work for. You can also find out specific information about corporate culture, informal company rules, etc. that isn’t available from more formal sources.
The first use of your research to target industry and companies you are interested in pursuing further. Most of the traditional research tools (like Dun & Bradstreet, the Book of Lists, or Hoovers) are now available online. Resources like the Book of Lists or the company members list of an industry trade association are great resources to narrow your search down from the universe to somewhere around 100 – 150 companies that you want to investigate further.
Once you have narrowed that list down to 50 – 75 use Internet research to learn more about these companies that might become your target companies. You want to end up with 30 – 50 companies that you end up doing extensive research about. Remember, this is a living list, as you gather more information about a company you may decide that you are no longer interested. Or your research may identify a company you weren’t aware of that might be a perfect fit.
This list will become a critical component of your job search strategy. It is the list you will share with everyone you know and ask if they know anyone at any of those companies that they would be willing to introduce you to.
Once you have an interview scheduled, whether it is for a specific opening or not, you want to really dig into researching that company. Utilize the company website, Google and other large search engines, your network of contacts, online news sources, etc. And be sure to Google the interviewer!
The more prepared you are, the better the impression you will make.