Congratulations! All that work you’ve done on your resume and cover letter has finally paid off. At long last, your application has made it onto someone’s desk.
All they want is one qualified candidate who sounds like they know what they’re talking about.
Good news: Now there’s a human reading your resume. Bad news: They’ve read a hundred other resumes before they got to yours. They’re tired. They’re stressed. All they want is one qualified candidate who sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, the entire morning has been a thankless slog through waist-deep job board dreck.
Now It Is Your Turn
Your cover letter mentions several key aspects of the company’s product. It mentions what the product does well. It also mentions where the product has room to grow, and addresses how your skills can directly contribute to that growth. It might even congratulate the company on the success of their recent IPO with a note about how excited you are at the prospect of joining such a successful company.
The internal recruiter’s heart begins to race. She eagerly flips to your resume. Everything she’s looking for is right there, laid out in clean and concise copy. The stress melts away. She knows she’s found a legitimately qualified candidate that she can take to the hiring manager.
She skims your cover letter and finds the usual “Dear Sir or Madam, enclosed please find my blah blah blah.” She clicks the little red X and moves on the next one.
The choice is yours. Here’s how to research a company before you start applying:
Where to Start
What you’ll need to know about a prospective employer depends entirely on your experience, your skills, and the company in question. Remember, you’re looking for particulars that can inform your resume and cover letter, and eventually make you shine in an interview. Focus on items that are relevant to you, your skills, and the position to which you’re applying.
- Start with the company’s website. Read their “About Us” page. If they have a blog, read it. Read their Twitter feed and Facebook page. Get to know their voice. Get to know what they value. Get to know who their audience is and how they connect with them.
- Google them. Find any and all news from the past year or so and read it. Look for pivots, successes and failures, and new product launches. Look for shake-ups in the C-suite.
- Identify their competitors. Figure out who else is doing what they’re doing, and take note of how they’re doing it. Identify at least three competitors, get a handle on each one’s value prop, and know how they differ from the company to which you’re applying.
- Find them on Linkedin. It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. Search for them on Linkedin. Look at who they employ. Browse the employees’ profiles until you develop a sense of the kind of person they like to hire. Take note of pedigree (where they’ve worked before) and try to develop a sense of whether they’re a fairly relaxed culture or if they’re buttoned up. Additionally, find out if you’re connected to anyone who works there, either by a first or second degree connection. If so, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask specific questions. (We’ll explain networking via Linkedin in greater detail later.)
What to Do With the Info Once You Have It
The whole goal is to differentiate you from the rest of the pack and help the recruiter and hiring manager understand that you’re the right person for the job. Take what you’ve learned, look for ways that it dovetails with your skills and the position in question, and then deploy that information strategically throughout your application materials. Use your cover letter to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and show off how your skills can help the company solve its current problems. Then drive it home by speaking knowledgeably about the company during your interview.
The steps above sound like they might take a while, but they won’t. You’re not trying to develop an encyclopedic knowledge of the company’s history. You’re just trying to understand where they are and where they want to go. Get a firm grasp on this and use it to elevate yourself above the masses who couldn’t be bothered. You’ll stand a much better chance of moving on to the next round, and you’ll seem like a godsend to an internal recruiter.
There are hundreds of recruiters out there, all claiming they can help you land a job. We’ll tell you how to choose the right one.
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.