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How to Research Potential Employers

Learning about potential employers is a crucial part of your job search. When you research an employer, you can find details about the organization and the people who work there.

Research employers to help you:

  • Learn about the organization’s culture to decide whether you’d be a good fit.
  • Tailor your resumé and cover letter to match what the employer is looking for.
  • Prepare for an interview and excel when you get there because of what you’ve learned about the organization.

While you search for the employer’s official website, your results can include news stories about that employer as well as blogs or posts from current, former, or retired employees. These results can offer you more insight into the organization.

Tour an employer’s website

The organization’s website can help you decide if you want to work for that employer. Learning about the employer can help you impress the hiring team with the information you’ve gathered. Learn about the employer’s:

Careers, Jobs, or Work for Us pages—What’s expected of employees? What are the rewards, financial and otherwise, of working for the company? How do you apply for a job there? Is there an online application process?

Discussion groups, forums, or blogs—If you post comments, make sure you read and follow the rules, get a feel for the discussion before posting, use professional language, stay on topic, and double-check your spelling and grammar.

Financial information—If it’s a public company (owned by shareholders), this information will likely be on the website. Use this information to assess a job offer or your future promotions. For example, will a dip in stock prices mean layoffs or downsizing? Non-profits often list the organizations that fund them. Do those funding relationship appear stable?

Location and operating area (these are not always the same place)—Is the organization active in your area? Would you move to take a job there?

Products and services—If you’re interested in a particular position, what product or service is it related to?

Recent news releases, backgrounders, and presentations—Subscribe to their email lists and newsletters. These may be good sources for questions to ask in an interview. For example, how will the company meet the demands of its newly expanded market?

If you don't know what employers to look for, online business directories like 411 and the Better Business Bureau provide lists of different types of local employers to explore.

Use your professional networks

Current and past staff, clients, and suppliers can tell you a lot about the company you’re interested in. Use your networks to find people connected to employers you’re researching.

  • If the people on this list match any people in your network, get in touch with them directly.
  • If no one in your contact list has connections to the employer, you may be able to locate employee names using sites like LinkedIn, where you can directly message them online through that networking site.
  • Enter the employer’s name into the site’s search function. The search should bring up a list of people who have included their employer in their profiles.

Check out related associations, agencies, and unions

The websites of various associations, agencies, and unions offer a wealth of useful information. Browse these websites to stay up to date with current activities and trends. Use the members’ links in online directories to contact employers directly. Or search for leads on finding work.

Industry associations

Industry association websites will keep you up to date with current activities and trends. 

Trade magazines provide information about trends and developments in an industry. They may also feature local ads and articles you can use to identify potential employers.

    • Search for trade magazines in your industry. Enter the industry or sector name + trade magazine, e.g. Construction + trade magazine. Refine your search by selecting Canadian web pages.
    • Check out the trade magazines at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association.

Professional associations

Professional association websites include news items relevant to their members. Some also offer networking services and job postings.

Economic development agencies

Local economic development agencies and Alberta Chambers of Commerce often profile different employers in their respective regions. Explore these websites to learn more about the local employers in your area.

Unions

Union websites post news articles, job openings, and other information for their members.

Follow the news

The work of large employers often features in the news. Even for smaller employers, you can learn a lot about what's happening in their industry.

Mainstream broadcast and print news sources are available and searchable online. Check out these websites:

You can also access newspaper job classifieds and career ads online.

Access other resources

Conduct informational interviews—Find out what it’s like working in a particular job or for a particular employer by talking with someone who works there.

Attend job fairs—Check out a number of potential employers at the same event.

Explore social networks—Many organizations are on social media, which can give you a good sense of what they do, what products they make or sell, what they value, and how they serve their communities. When you search an employer’s name, you may come up with different pages or comments. Some are created by the employer, while others are created by current, former, or retired employees.

Visit your local library—Libraries have many work search resources, including directories of community services, directories of businesses and manufacturing firms, labour market information published by government, and information published by local chambers of commerce.

Research helps you discover whether an employer is a good match for you. It also helps you wow your prospective new employer with a thoughtful answer to the common interview question “What do you know about us?”

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