Labour market

Researching prospective employers serves two purposes:

  • Employers expect to see potential employees have done their homework. This should shine through both in your interview and your covering letter. It shows that you are motivated and committed to the job, not to mention giving you that competitive edge!
  • It gives you a real insight into the role you are applying for and the company.

Typical areas of research

The following questions are useful when researching the role, although it is important that you tailor your questions and keep in mind the role that you are applying for, and your expectations of the job:

  • What products and/or services does the company sell?
  • Who are its clients?
  • Is the company committed to equality and diversity?
  • How much will I get paid?
  • Does the company promote from within?
  • Is the company big or small?
  • How formal is the company environment?
  • Who are its competitors?
  • What is the financial position of the company?
  • What is happening in the company’s sector that could affect it?

Top tips for researching an employer

The best approach for this type of research is to look for trustworthy sources. You will not impress the company if your information about it is wrong.

The internet or a library can offer extensive information on businesses. You could even try speaking to different people from the company – get lots of different opinions so that you are considering the company from more than one perspective.

Use the company’s website, but with caution – remember, it is designed to make a good impression on you. Find out what it is offering to graduates, for example, training programmes or benefits.

If you cannot find enough information from the company, contact them and ask them to send you some.

For further information, advice and tips download our Careers Handout on Researching Employers below.

Resources

Directories are useful for finding companies in a particular sector and can give you brief details on the organisation, such as contact details, names of key personnel, or details of jobs:

  • Prospects directory
  • Target jobs sector directories
  • GET directory

If you cannot find a directory, use Current British Directories that can be found in Student Services or the Birmingham City University Library.

If you are having trouble finding companies that offer a certain product or work in a certain area, try the Yellow Pages or Thomson Local. Full listings across the UK are available on these websites.

  • Prospects, a website designed to help graduates looking for work, gives information covering more than 30 different work sectors, from accounting to tourism.
  • The following newspapers have extensive business sections:
    Financial Times, Guardian, Telegraph, The Times or The Independent
  • Every sector has its own magazine. For example, Marketing Week contains information about marketing news, information and opinion. If you do not know which magazines are suitable.
  • Birmingham Central Library provides a Business Insight service that can help you find company information.
Other online resources:
  • Try BBC Business for up-to-date business news.
  • Search Google News. Type in the name of the company you are interested in to find a list of online news sources.
  • The Graduate Prospects website is a useful source of information, with a list of graduate employers plus a range of advice for finding a job after graduation.
  • Graduate Advantage advertises vacancies with small and medium-sized companies within the West Midlands.
  • Your skills and you
  • Prospects planner