Admit it, you’ve applied to jobs without doing any research on the company or position before. Come on, we’ve all done it. Whether it’s the new graduate desperation to use that expensive degree or a miserable job that has you begging for a change, we’re all guilty of mindlessly applying for jobs simply because a search engine told us it matched the key words we typed in. True, this is a great way to get your resume out there, you could easily apply to 20 or more jobs in a day this way, but you want to do more than have your resume sitting in a filing cabinet of every single company in the country. You actually want a job. Applying to every job may or may not get you that dream job, but applying for the right jobs definitely will.
Now, there are exceptions to this rule. Let’s say you’re laid off and need a new job right this second. By all means, apply to every job you lay your eyes on. Future employers will understand taking a job just to pay the bills while you’re hunting for a better one. This tactic is better spent on those more temporary jobs than your dream career though. That elusive dream job that begins your rewarding career takes much more precision and careful research than any temp job will.
Your dream job is more than just the title you get or tasks you are assigned. It also needs to be at a company you’re happy with. How will you know that until you’re already there? Well, technically you won’t. You can’t know everything about a company inside and out until you’ve seen how the inside works with your own eyes. But researching a company can give you a good idea before you apply.
1. Check the job posting
This one is a bit obvious, but it’s easy to forget this simple step when you’re caught up in Application Frenzy. Majority of job postings have a little place for the company to describe itself to potential applicants. Before you submit your resume, read this paragraph carefully. Does it peak your interest or send up red flags? For some, the term “non-profit” can either be a blessing or a curse depending on previous experience. If anything in that company bio makes you cringe, it’s best to just move on to the next job post.
2. Check the company website
Along with a mini bio will be a link to the company website. Check out the entire website, specifically the About page. Read their mission statement, press releases, and any awards they’ve listed on their site. Just like the job posting, these pages are full of keywords that will either entice or repulse you. Don’t want to work with kids? Maybe a place that aims to educate or entertain children isn’t for you.
While the job posting might have the title you’re after, it isn’t worth your effort to apply to a company you don’t agree with wholeheartedly. Even if you do fool the interviewer into thinking you’re a good fit for the company, you’ll be miserable once the New Job Phase wears off in a few weeks. Put your efforts towards a career you’ll be happy in.
3. Check online reviews
Job posting bios and company websites are, no surprise, written by employees of the company. Even if they are the most disgruntled employee on the face of the earth, it is still in their best interest to put their company in a good light. They will hide all the blemishes and flaws within the company to attract the best and brightest applicants. While including these works in your research is important, you should also find more objective sources to get a fuller picture.
The best site I’ve found so far is Glassdoor. Not only does it have job postings, it also gives you reviews of companies from employees past and present that include salaries, pros and cons, and company predictions from those with insider knowledge. The only downside is that you need several recent reviews in order to get a good idea of the company. While larger companies can get that many reviews, smaller, more local businesses can’t always keep up. Still, it’s the go-to site that my friends and I use when job-hunting and in general it is pretty useful.
We’ve all desperately applied to jobs before. How often has it really worked in our favor though? So instead of wasting all that time applying to 20 or more jobs in one night, spend that same amount of time researching those positions and companies to find the handful that you would truly love to call your own.
Markus, Monik. Midtown NYC. 28 Dec. 2008. Online image. Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/8fkcmQ