Job Hunting Tip #4 – Build Your Research Files

Once you have your first and second lists of target companies and their related industries, it’s time to gather even more information.  Not only will this help you confirm your assessment, but it will better prepare you for your approach to the company and also a possible interview.

There are several ways to conduct your additional research:

  • Friends and colleagues – Start reaching out to them and letting them know which industries you are targeting and which companies you’re initially interested in.  Ask them what they know about any of the companies and find out if they have any contacts that could prove to be valuable.  Lunches and happy hours with your colleague and their contact can provide invaluable inside information.  If you are seeking an executive-level position, you’ll want to expand this exercise to include background checks on the CEO and the investors.
  • Internet Networking Tools – Probably the best example is LinkedIn.  If you are already a member, then you have big leg up.  LinkedIn has a function that allows you to search on a company name to see which direct members of your own LinkedIn network also have people from the target company in their network.  Secondly, does the target company use social media tools like Twitter or Facebook?  If so, it’s time to become a follower, subscriber, friend, etc.
  • E-mail Alerts  – Google, Yahoo and others have a function that allows you to enter keywords to get automated email alerts any time a press release or trade article is published with those keywords in the context.  Many of these will be company-issued press releases, which you can also get from the company’s website but would need to check regularly to see if something new was produced.  But even more valuable are analyst reports or trade articles about the company.  For future reference, make a file for all of this information or at least capture the important information in a document with web links to the get to the full content.
  • Blogs and Message Boards – Find out if they exist for the industry or even the company (ideal).  Read through them, printing out postings of interest.
  • Analyst Research Reports – If you don’t happen to have login credentials with analyst firms like the Gartner Group, Yankee, Forrester Research or The 451 Group, seek out friends or relatives that might.  Typically you can search these sites for industry or company-related reports and even see the abstract for the report.  This will give you a wish list to pass on to your friend or relative.
  • SEC  Reports – This is really just for publicly traded companies.  Search the SEC’s EDGAR site and other  public sites where annual financial reports and 10K/10Q reports are filed.  Much of this you can get from the Investor Relations link on the company’s website, but you might find other interesting things on EDGAR.

Using the above methods, you will be amazed at how much information you can amass in just a few weeks.  Again, this exercise is to help confirm your assumptions about the company as an ideal target as well as to gain insights that will greatly enhance your interview effectiveness.

As you continue to gather more information, you might find that your list of target companies shifts and you might come across new companies to add to the lists (ie – competitors and partners of your target companies).  When this happens, remember to reach out to your friends and colleagues on a periodic basis to keep them updated.  This also helps keep you on their radar screen.  Remember, you want the benefit of their eyes, ears and relationships.  As such, they need to know what you are thinking and how you are progressing.

See the rest of my series on Job Hunting Tips here.  I also have a related series for Resume Writing and one for Interviewing.

Author: Gordon Daugherty

Over the past 15 years Gordon has seen nearly 1,000 startup pitches, advised more than 200 entrepreneurs and been involved with raising over $45M in growth and venture capital. Throughout his 28 year career in high tech, serving twice as President and three times as CMO, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200M acquisition exit under his belt. Now his emphasis is purely focused on helping startups and early stage tech companies. Through his Shockwave Innovations advisory practice and as Managing Director for Austin’s Capital Factory startup accelerator, Gordon is an active angel investor, VC and startup advisor.

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