The “Re: Connection” Blog Series: How to Research a Prospective Employer
In our “Re: Connection” blog series, we’re revisiting articles from years past to see what has changed and what remains the same. A few years back, we offered tips on researching prospective employers in this post.
Recently, we asked professionals from various backgrounds for their thoughts. Our experts agree that the core foundation of researching prospective employers has not changed; however, there are some new tools and opportunities available to gain insight into the company where you may become gainfully employed.
Researching Employers is Worth the Legwork
Upon considering a job change or receiving a job offer, most seasoned professionals or even those with a few years’ experience will put in the time to research a potential employer. Much like buying your second home, your experience has allowed you insight into what you’re looking for—a bigger bathroom, a different kitchen layout, or more closet space. With a job, your experience may have led you to determine you want more flexible hours, specific incentives, a clearly defined path for promotions, etc. For those recent graduates entering the workforce, researching a potential employer is important, whether you’re trying to narrow down a couple of offers or starting cold sending out resumes to a variety of firms.
“If you’re a graduate coming out of school and entering the professional workforce, it is very important to put in the legwork researching potential employers,” said Marsha Graham, Owner of Snelling Staffing Services. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you need to understand before choosing your first job that it’s more than just a paycheck. Your choice will set your career in motion and there are so many intangibles to consider.”
Graham believes it’s important to define the aspects of the job that are essential to you. Is staying local important? Are you looking for great benefits or do you need some specific level of compensation? Is work/life balance a key determinate? After you narrow down what you’re looking for then it’s time to do some research.
“There are a number of trusted tools to use when researching companies,” stated Dru Brock, Snelling Staffing Services Senior Professional Recruiter. “Obviously, the internet is the place to begin by reviewing the company’s website, LinkedIn and social media pages. Then, Google as much information about the company as you can to find newspaper or business publication articles, which may provide a different perspective from what the company says about itself.”
Graham and Brock also agreed that using Glassdoor is another option to take a look at reviews written by former employees. However, at the end of the day, these experts stressed that nothing beats an actual interview with the company to learn more and ask direct questions based upon your unique needs and perspective.
Combine On-line Review with Face-to-Face Research
Celyn Boykin, Director of Career Services at the University of New Orleans echoed many of the remarks from the Snelling team. She stressed identifying your career goals to make sure they match with the prospective company culture. She also noted using internet search engines and social media as a primary research tool to gain an introduction to the business and a feel for the work environment. When considering online reviews and news articles, make sure they come from a credible source that can be validated.
“With all of the online research available, it still doesn’t replace face-to-face questions and feedback,” said Boykin. “I advise my students to attend career fairs and other recruiting events to engage in conversations with employer attendees, and ask a range of questions. How do they like working for the company. What type of people do they hire? What is the potential for growth? Depending upon how much information the employer representative is willing to share information, you can gather a pretty good overview and compare this to answers you may get if you choose to interview with the company.”
Other avenues Boykin suggested include talking to former employees and or people who have had experiences with the company—even customers.
Another important aspect Boykin reminds potential employees to consider is a company’s policies based on workplace diversity and discrimination. Make sure you know what you are getting into and have the foresight to see what might potentially affect you.
“For example, diversity and discrimination practices will be important to a person from the LGBTQ community,” said Boykin. “State and federal companies, and those that are publicly traded generally have to comply with certain policies that are in place, however, private companies are not necessarily held to the same standards. To learn more about a company’s policies, you may check with someone at the company or inquire directly with the HR department. It’s better to learn about anything that may affect you upfront.”
Whether you’re about to enter the job market or are looking to make a job change, research perspective employers before you make your next move and remember Louisiana Job Connection is here to help.
What About Researching Tech Employers?
As the tech industry grows across Louisiana and more opportunities open up in this sector, we want to take a look at some of the specific nuances to consider when researching technology-based employers.
Devin Lemoine, Owner/President of Success Labs advises job seekers when taking a look at a tech firm to really dig into their work and products such as apps they have designed. If it’s a retail-based client download their app, or talk to their customers about the company’s products or services.
Matt Diez, Chief Technology Officer at Vinformatix admits that seeking information on some tech companies is a little more challenging than other industries. One way to gather information is to search for case studies published by the company to gauge the depth and robustness of the firm as well as the culture and the manner they approach client challenges.
In addition, when reviewing actual job postings, notice who else the company is looking for and how many listings. “Five to seven listings may show that they’re growing,” said Diez. “Determining if they are looking for someone to wear a number of hats or someone that’s geared to a specific job could tell you more about the type of work you’ll be asked to perform. One of the great things I’ve enjoyed at my job is working with people who have science and research backgrounds. If you are a programmer and get to partner with team members in data analytics and artificial intelligence experience, it expands your knowledge base and allows you to grow as a professional.”
Diez adds that researching a company’s activity level in the local tech community can be quite revealing. Are they sponsoring continuing education, creating hackathons and developing the next generation of talent? Check to see if the firm offers continuing education for its employees and the steps management takes to keep employees up to speed on changes in the field. “For me at Vinformatix, I want to take someone who is eighty percent where I want them to be and help them develop that additional twenty percent,” said Diez. “When they get to that point, I want to continue their future development to achieve the collective next greatest good. Our goal is to have an army of people to help drive the business, which is appealing to employees who want to learn and grow professionally.”
Research in the COVID-19 Era
Devin Lemoine offered another more recent twist on researching prospective employers after the spring of 2020. How did they approach and handle the pandemic? “A crisis has a way of bringing things to the forefront,” she said. “Do a deeper dive to determine how agile they are and how they handled themselves. Was their supply chain disrupted? Did they reduce salaries by twenty percent? Did they have layoffs? These are all telling signs of a company’s strength and resiliency and a look at its culture.”
Whether you’re in the market for a tech job or a position in another field, Louisiana Job Connection can help. Check out Louisiana Job Connection today to find a job that’s tailored for your skills and experience.