The First Step to Successful Job Applications: Researching Employers!
If you’re racing against the clock with application deadlines, you may be tempted to just dive right into employer applications and start whacking away.
However, if you want to give yourself an edge, you’d better find time to research the employers you’re applying to as thoroughly as possible!
Graduate recruiters hate receiving applications from students who don’t have clear ideas about what kind of work they’re signing on for.
When reviewing your application, recruiters want to see that you have put plenty of thought into why you want the job you’re applying for, as well as some understanding and awareness of their organisation and the industry in which it operates.
These are all concerns that effective employer research can help you address, so you better get cracking!
How to efficiently research graduate employers
To keep yourself zeroed in on the needs of the job application when researching employers, try to establish a structure for your investigations, and break your research down into bite-sized chunks so that that it’s easier to keep yourself on track.
Focus your investigations on the following areas:
- What does this company do? (The products it makes, or the services it provides.)
- Where is it located?
- What were the defining moments in its history?
- Who are its customers/clients?
- Where else do they operate outside of Singapore?
- Who are their main competitors?
- How, where, and why are they growing?
- Any big news over the last one to two years – new product launches, how the economy has affected them, regulatory changes, mergers and acquisitions, etc.
- What makes this company unique compared to its competitors? What makes their products or services different?
- What kinds of roles are available for graduates?
- What does the graduate scheme/job you are applying for involve?
- What degree background and qualifications are required? (i.e. minimum requirements)
- What kinds of general competences and specific skills are needed?
- What does the recruitment process involve?
- Are there any specific contact details to address your applications to?
- What is the application deadline?
Company culture and your general feelings
You need to:
- Find out about the company’s “core values” and goals.
- Figure out how the company likes to see itself.
- Find out what others are saying about the company.
- Carefully review any staffing policies you can find.
- Think about how you perceive the organisation.
- Ask yourself: “Why does working for this employer appeal to me?”
Where can I find information on graduate employers?
You can start off by looking at our Employer Hubs and the employer’s website. Make sure you look at both their careers section/page and their main company site.
Keep an eye out for information about their graduate programmes and application processes, and check out their recent press releases as well as financial and market reports.
However, don’t just stop there! Draw on a range of sources to build a fuller picture of the employer’s sector. In general, it’s useful to make a habit of checking on relevant industry news daily.
Browse relevant articles on quality local newspapers or news sites, like The Business Times, international news sites like The Wall Street Journal, and online industry magazines.
Since it’s possible to find out all sorts of things about employers on the internet, you need to be careful about what you choose to accept as facts.
Comments on social media sites like Facebook or Glassdoor could add an interesting twist to your research, but remember those could be biased in one way or another.
Keep your critical thinking mode switched “on” and discern the reliability of your sources of information.
Don’t forget your university’s careers service as well! They will have information on specific employers, or may be able to link you up with alumni who can give you an insider’s view.
Find out when employers will be visiting your campus for fairs and talks – information straight from the horse’s mouth is invaluable.
Use your own words!
As you do your research, think about how you can summarise what you find in your own words.
Copying and pasting phrases from an employer’s website into your application, or memorising statements about them to recite at interviews is a surefire way to get axed.
Recruiters want to see you bring your own thinking and understanding to the information you gather!
Lastly, keep a checklist
It can help to have a document or spreadsheet where you keep track of information you find. Come up with a system that works for you, because you may need to refer back to your research before interviews and assessments.
Recording the best sources you used will save you a lot of time (and unnecessary stress) at that point.
Remember, you certainly won’t be able to pin down everything about an employer, so don’t stress too much about ensuring your research is perfect!
However, even a small amount of focused research will greatly boost your chances of getting a job, and will give you the confidence to make informed decisions as you apply.