Conducting Employer Research

After you have assessed your interests, the next step is to research companies related to your area of interest. It is important to identify employers that meet your needs in terms of opportunities for growth and geographical preferences.

There are several additional ways to research a company and the web is always a good place to start:

Don’t forget to research those companies that would be considered competitors of the ones you have selected to research. Employers are usually impressed with a candidate who exhibits knowledge of the industry. If possible, talk to people who work for your target employers. They can often provide insight into company culture and other information.

Your professors and advisors possess a wealth of industry experience. They may be able to provide you with an “insider’s” view of certain firms.

Develop Your Contact List

This is easy! Start by writing down a list of family, friends, co-workers, and past and present members of student professional organizations. These initial contacts do not need to work in your field of interest. Initial contacts can help you indirectly by referring you to someone who does work in your field of interest.

Making Contact

Either by telephone, e-mail or by letter, now is the time to start scheduling your informational appointments. If you contact someone by e-mail or letter, use proper writing etiquette. If you contact an individual by telephone, you may wish to develop a script or outline to help you with the conversation.

Whichever method you choose, you should incorporate the following when you make an initial contact:

  • Your name and how you were referred to them
  • Your background and the reason for the contact
  • Your goals for the meeting
  • The length of time you need (20 minutes is appropriate)

Conducting an Informational Interview Informational Interviews

The informational appointment is a vital tool that is often overlooked in the job search process. By “interviewing” an employer representative, you can gain valuable insight into the responsibilities required for specific jobs, and it can provide a strong networking base to prepare you for future interviews. Do not wait until you are involved in a job search to begin scheduling informational interviews.

Remember the following tips when conducting the informational interview:

  • Be on time, be prepared, and be professional. Remember, you scheduled the meeting, therefore you will lead the conversation.
  • You are not interviewing for a specific position, but you should treat the appointment as you would an interview.
  • You should research the company in order to develop intelligent questions.
  • You have only 20 minutes, use them wisely.
  • You should develop your own industry-based questions, but some examples of questions are:
    • How would you describe your position?
    • What is a typical day like?
    • What do you enjoy most about the position? the least?
    • What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the industry?
  • Thank you letters are considered a professional courtesy and should be sent immediately following the informational interview. If you meet with more than one person, more than one thank you note should be sent.

Keep in touch with your contacts periodically. They may be your link to future employment.