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Research Employers

Use these simple research tips for the most informed job searches.

Research is a critical part of the job search process. It can help you:

  • Identify companies that may be hiring in your field
  • Focus your job search on employers whose values and expectations meet yours
  • Learn about potential growth of businesses and industries
  • Learn about a company's hidden job market
  • Understand how you can apply your skills in a new field
  • Prepare you for a job interview

If you're just beginning your research, use this list to help you find basic information:

Question Where to Search
What businesses are located in my area? CareerOneStop's Business Finder
Which industries are major employers for the occupation I'm interested in? Find Industries
What are the typical wages for this occupation? Salary Information
What are the background and training requirements in this occupation? Career Clusters
Have there been many job openings in the recent past in this field? Minnesota Job Vacancies
What are the future trends for this field?Minnesota Growing Careers


Dig Deeper to Find Answers

Once you've identified some companies that interest you — or perhaps have even scheduled an interview with, learn more about them.

  • Find the employer's website. Enter the company's name into a search engine, like Google or Yahoo.
  • Check more than one information source. A company's website is not the most objective source.
  • Look for relevant, timely information. Review only recent content.

Below are some key questions you might want to find answers:

Question Where to Search
What products/services does the employer provide?

What industry trends are affecting the company?
Employer websites. These often describe the company unit(s) that may be hiring in your field. They also provide details on the types of products or programs they offer.

Regional or state publications:
  • Chamber of Commerce directories
  • Manufacturers' directories by state
  • Minnesota Directory of Manufacturers
National publications. Most libraries have copies in their business sections.
  • National Trade & Professional Associations
  • Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors & Executives
  • The Macmillan Directory of Leading Private Companies
  • Ward's Business Directory of Major U.S. Private Companies
The titles above are just a few examples. Almost every type of field or industry has its own trade association.
How many employees does the employer have?

What jobs does the company typically hire for?

What is the employer's hiring policy?

Where is the employer located? Does it have more than one location? Is it on the bus line?
Employer websites. These often include size of their workforce, hiring policies, and job openings. It may also provide details on company location(s) and mass transit options. Also check recent press releases for news about plant expansions, new product roll-outs, or sponsorship of events.

College and university placement offices. Check if the company is recruiting on campus. Find out which qualifications they look for when they hire.
What are the employer's mission and values?

How long have they been in business?

Is the employer involved in community services? If so, what?
Employer websites. Look for annual reports. Or contact the employer's public relations office or personnel department. Annual reports outline the employer's successes, growth, history, and financial status. Companies that give back to the community often have a section of their website devoted to their efforts.
What is the employer's financial situation? Is it making money? Has it downsized in the last five years?

Has there been any recent important news related to the company?

What do others think about the company?
Employer websites. Review current and past press releases. Annual reports often include a financial report for the year. If the company has investors, detailed financial reports may also be online.

Current newspapers, trade journals, and business magazines. The business section of most papers has articles about local companies and their executives. You can find back copies in library archives.

For businesses in the Twin Cities consult Finance and Commerce and the Minneapolis – St. Paul Business Journal. Consult Bloomberg Business for company and industry news nationwide.
What's it really like to work for this employer? Current or past employees. Talk with people who are working or have worked for the company.


Organize Your Research

You will collect a lot of information on employers and industries. Discard anything that has little or no immediate value. Then file and maintain the information that you want to keep:

  • Create a digital or paper filing system for each company.
  • Print out information, e-mail it to yourself, or cut and paste it into a word processing document for future reference.
  • Don't count on search engines every time you want to review information you've already found. Articles sometimes disappear or show up in different spots on search result lists.

Source: Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.