You know you can use the Internet to look for a job and to network to find one, but here are other ways you can do your own research to better position you to be hired.
Research the Company
Everyone says it, but I still hear back from hiring managers all the time about candidate’s lack of knowledge and preparation for an interview. The more you know about the company you’re interviewing with, the more you’ll impress hiring managers. Your preparation could be the determining factor between continuing in the process or being lead out of the interview quickly. A simple search online should net you plenty of information – but you should dig deeper. You can use sites like Glassdoor.com to read reviews about certain companies. Searching LinkedIn’s company tool can give you insight into movement in the company, recent news, new hires/departures, etc. And of course, the company website you should have read thoroughly including the company’s mission statement and values if posted.
Use this findings of your research to build a list of key questions you want to learn more about in the interview. It will show the hiring manager that 1. you did your research and 2. you are genuinely interested in learning more and making an educated decision in your next career move.
Research Key Decision Makers at Your Target Companies
Want to work in the marketing department? Find out who’s running it. Then start networking with that person online long before you apply for a position.
Connect with that person on LinkedIn. You don’t want to abuse that connection by being pushy about a job, but later when you apply for a job, you can reference the connection.
Find a common thread in her history. Maybe you both graduated from the same school. Any sort of personal details you can glean from Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, the more conversation you can start in an interview. If, for example, you see that a hiring manager is from a city in Europe where you studied, you can bet she will be surprised if you mention the fact in a cover letter or interview. You’re sure to stand out!
Find Job Openings Directly
Sometimes companies only post jobs on their own websites rather than on more popular job boards. Sometimes companies never get around to actually posting a job opening. Search Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn updates to find a potential opening directly. On Twitter, you can also run these types of searches in Tweetdeck or simply subscribe to the search via RSS. You can also run searches (try PR Manager hiring or whatever keywords you think someone might put in a conversational update about an open position) on LinkedIn using their Signal product to monitor what people on the platform are posting. Do the same on Facebook and look at the results in “posts from friends” and “public updates.”
Make a list of the companies you’d like to work for, and regularly check for updates on their Jobs page. You should also follow those companies on LinkedIn and if you see the current PR Manager left the company, it could indicate a new opening to inquire about promptly.
Find Out What You’re Worth
Internet helps you do research on salaries. Tools like Salary.com or Glassdoor.com can tell you the range of what you can earn in a particular profession in your geographical market.
Once you’re offered a position, you can use the research to negotiate an appropriate salary. Take your experience and location into consideration, as they may put you above or below the range you find on these sites. I find that some of the general salary sites offer very wide ranges and don’t take into account certain industry factors, but it should give you a general sense.
Improve Your Hireability
Stay on top of industry trends through blogs and niche websites so that when you interview you won’t be caught off guard if you’re asked about a current event you haven’t even heard of. Skim the headlines before an interview so you are up to speed on any breaking news. Following some key industry new sources in a RSS feed or on Twitter is a good way to keep up-to-date.
Finding the perfect job isn’t just about applying for every position that suits your criteria. Often, you’ll find that the job isn’t all it promised to be once you have it. This is where doing your research during the job search process comes in.
There are several ways to use search engines and social networks to help you find the best job for your talents; all you need to do is start searching. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- Search for job listings.
Chances are, you’re already doing this to some extent. If not, you should be. Don’t get stuck looking at just the large job boards. Check out the niche job sites in your industry. Hoojobs, for example, has agency and in-house listings throughout the United States for public relations, communications, and social media professionals (disclosure: I’m a co-founder of the site). Search hashtags in Twitter. Some of the popular ones include #happo (Help a PR Pro Out) or #prjobs. You can also search Google using phrases such as “wanted” and “seeking” along with the position you are interested in. This will turn up help wanted listings that you might not otherwise see because they are on sites you wouldn’t think to check.
- Find companies and make cold calls.
We tend to shy away from cold calling because it has a higher chance of rejection, but if you want to uncover the hidden job opportunities, you really have to leave your comfort zone. If you are focusing your search for PR agencies in San Francisco and you’re not sure where to start, use Google Maps to quickly list agencies in your area. A simple search for “public relations” will yield pages of results and points on the map, complete with address, phone number, and website. Once you have your short list, contact them to see if they have any positions open.
- Find out who to contact.
Once you know which companies you are interested in, take the time to look for the correct person to contact about a job. Your chances of success will go up considerably if you contact the right person, as opposed to simply sending an application out into the ether. Start with a LinkedIn search for all the people within that company. If you are applying for a PR Manager role, write down all the names of the people who it could report to and contact the person who is most likely to be the hiring manager. You might also find this information in the “About Us” or “Contact Us.” Some companies offer a list of key staff members and may even include contact information such as a phone number and email address for each.
- Research the company.
It’s not uncommon to get the job you wanted only to discover that it isn’t as pleasant as you had imagined. The boss may be more difficult than anticipated, or the company may have policies that you can’t stand. The best way to avoid this is through research ahead of time.Before you apply for any job, be sure to look online for any comments about the company. Previous or current employees may have written about their experiences and this can give you a good idea as to whether or not you want to work there. Glassdoor is a site that allows employees to write honest reviews about their company and is a good starting point. Of course, keep in mind that a few negative comments shouldn’t deter you completely from pursuing an opportunity. The information shared could be outdated and the company’s policies have changed. It’s also important to remember what doesn’t work for one person might be perfectly fine by another.
- Research the staff.
Some people aren’t shy about sharing their opinion for someone online, and this can work to your advantage. Check out the more important staff members by Googling their names and see what comes up. Use http://blogsearch.google.com/ to check for blog posts, too. You can take it step further and search a site like SocialMention to check other social media sites or Backtype to set up and view alerts in blog comments. A little bit of cyberstalking could quickly uncover information you wished you had known before making a decision to work for the company – and don’t think for a second they aren’t doing the same for your name.
Job hunting is a challenge, but with the power of the Internet, we have more options than our parents did. These tools allow extensive research on a job and the key members of any company long before you submit your application.