Researching an organisation

Why THIS company?

There are lots of reasons to apply for a job, but your job application will be more effective if you can describe why you want to do THIS job for THIS company

Sometimes it’s good to be prepared to tell your prospective employer why you want to work there. However, see the table below for some examples of what would be good things to say as part of your application, and also some things that wouldn’t be as effective:

Reasons you can say that will help you get the job Reasons that you should not say (even if they are true)
  • They are your dream company because they work in or with your special interest. (This is not usually the case)
  • You know someone who works there, and they say they love it
  • You like what they do
  • You like their values and want to contribute
  • They have a great reputation
  • You have always wanted to be a (insert job title here) because….
  • It is better to be employed than unemployed and they have a vacancy
  • You know someone who works there, and they say it’s mostly ok
  • You know how to get there
  • You need the money

You are looking for compelling reasons that particular company and you are a good match. Think of a problem they have that you can solve. Your research on the company will help you.

For example: they are looking for more warehouse staff as their business is growing, you are methodical and loyal, so they won’t have to worry about you turning up late and making expensive mistakes.

What research should you consider doing?

Your research will help you understand what skills and experience you can offer to the organisation, as well as think about whether you would enjoy working for them

Your research will vary according to the size of the organisation you are interested in working for and the type of role you are applying for.

A: For all jobs (especially those with small local companies):

  • Ask someone who works at the company:
    • What do they do
    • What they are like to work for
    • What they think is important
    • Will they offer the flexibility and the reasonable adjustments you need
  • Look at the company website: Look for:
    • The company careers page (if they have one) to find jobs they have available and what they are looking for in an employee
    • Mission, vision and values. These will tell you what the company values are. These should mostly be values you find important. Avoid companies doing things you don’t agree with as it will dramatically increase your stress level. If you are vegan, you are unlikely to be comfortable working in a butcher’s shop, for example. If in doubt, talk them through with family, friends or an advisor.
    • What the company does, produces, creates, or sells
    • How the company describes itself and if that will meet your needs. For example, if they talk about teamworking constantly in their documentation and you prefer to work alone, you might not like it there
  • Ask someone who uses their product or service what they’re like

B: For jobs with medium sized / less formal companies:

Research using the suggestions for small companies PLUS:

  • Look at company reviews on Glassdoor. Many companies have the same job advertised on a number of sites. They prefer applications through Glassdoor because it includes company research which shows you have made more of an effort.
  • Twitter and Facebook are good for news about the company which is useful for the application and interview. Interacting with a company through their social media page can sometimes help them to feel they know you when they receive your application. Make sure it is relevant and positive to create a good impression.
  • LinkedIn has company pages and can help you find people who work there. If you have an interviewer’s name, you can often find a photo, so you recognise them in the interview. Check their profile to see what they find important. Also look at the “other companies viewed” section of a company page to give you an idea of what their competition is doing.

C: For large, formal and international companies:

Research using suggestions for A: small companies and B: medium sized companies PLUS:

  • Annual Report – Gives you the company’s strategy and financial position as well as its strategic direction. May also include information on new products and how they are dealing with key challenges facing the company.
  • Wider Industry – Find out about what issues affect the whole industry and what the most successful players in that industry are doing. Provides useful background for the application and interview.