You’ve probably read or heard that RESEARCH is one of the most important things you need to do in your job search. You all know this because it’s just common sense. However, I can tell you story after story of people who regretted slacking on this vital part of their job search. So exactly how do you do research? Where do you start?
When we communicate with people, we tend to share information about ourselves that is important to us; and therefore, we assume that this same information will be valuable to others. However, what matters more when searching for a job is information about the company. One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is, “What does the employer/company need?” Answering this question will help you determine what information to share in all of your correspondence – resumes, cover letters, and follow-up letters. And, not only will it make it easier for you to know what to say in your written documents, but it will also guide you when you network and interview.
So, how do you find out what companies need?
If a company has a website, it has an “About Us” page. Read this page thoroughly and more than twice. If you’re really interested in the company, print the page out and look for repeated words and phrases. Highlight them, using different colors to differentiate between skills and knowledge, as well as experience you have vs. the areas in which you need to improve. For example, highlight information in yellow that you currently possess, blue for skills you need to update, pink for abilities you don’t necessarily have but can show relevant experience, and so on. Compare how you match up with the company to see if you are a good fit.
Years ago as I was researching a company’s website, I took note of the many customer service awards it had received. Words like “diversity” and “respect” appeared more than three times throughout its site. If you were to correspond with this company, what information would you share about yourself? You’ve got it…when and why you received customer service awards, and how and when you experienced diversity and respect.
After finding out what a company needs, the next step is coming up with at least three examples or stories that demonstrate each skill or quality you possess that matches what the company needs or values. Why? – Because when you communicate with that company, you not only want to be interesting, but memorable as well.
Josie Toth is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions. She facilitates job search skills and career exploration classes in the 13-county Houston-Galveston area. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and enjoys encouraging others in their pursuit of meaningful work.