How to research employers and jobs

How to make a list of employers to apply to:

Once you have decided broadly what job or sector you want to work in you need to find some companies and jobs to apply to.

Do you know which companies are in the sector you are interested in?

  • Start with our Which Career pages, check where companies advertise, use professional body membership websites to see who is a member, once you find one company you are interested in you can start looking for others in the same field.

Some jobs will be advertised widely on multiple sites and via your careers account CareerConnect others may be harder to find or may not be advertised at all.

It's fine to google to get lists, but remember it's only a starting point, the information may not be exactly what you are looking for, prepare to dig deep. A small company you have not heard of may not have a huge online presence but may be just what you need.

Once you find company you are interested in: Research them

  • What exactly do they make or do?
  • Where are they based, country, city etc
  • Do they have jobs available or will you need to apply speculatively?

Why do you want to work there?

When you apply for a job or make a speculative application you will need to do this research for your application, and certainly for interviews.

Here are some ideas for things you can investigate.

  • What makes this company different? What are their unique selling points - what differentiates them from their competitors?
  • What products and services do they offer?
  • Who are their clients?
  • Where are they based and where do they do business? Find out about company size, location and business catchment area.
  • What are their values & ethos, do they fit with yours?

Look at the company website as if you were a prospective client or wanted to purchase something from them. What do you think stands out?

If the organisation has a public presence like a shop, hotel, leisure facility or bank visit some of their branches to get a real feel for what they do.

If the organisation makes a product that is sold in stores or online, look at the products, who are they competing with, what's the branding like?

Do they advertise? Check magazines, tv adverts and billboards who are they aiming their marketing at?

  • Use the Library search To look for business News (Factiva and Access World News are the key ones here) Both these news services can give up to the minute views and comment on companies, sectors, leading figures etc. Factiva has added features which can also be useful in job seeking, such as company snapshots (including top line financial performance, key personnel, latest news on the company’s performance, services, products etc.

Research the job role:

It's not always esasy to understand which jobs you should be applying for, job titles can be misleading in the level of skills and experience required, or jobs in different companies that are ostensibly the same can be called by different names. We have compiled some of the most common job titles and explained what they mean:

Once you get past the job title, some companies will have a full clear job advertisement backed up with further documentation such as person specifications and job descriptions. These are great, they help you decide if you can do the job and craft a clear and well evidenced application or CV. Sometimes, it's not that easy.
The job title may still be ambiguous, the duties unclear or the information very brief. So how can you find out more?
  • Look on the company website is there any further information that helps?
  • Many job advertisements list a contact to talk to about the role. It's a really good idea to ring them, it makes you look serious about your application. Have a list of questions prepared but make sure they are not things you could have found out for yourself, do a bit of research first.
  • Have you seen similar sounding jobs advertised with other organisations? Do they have clearer information about the role? It may not be the same but it can be informative to see how it compares.
  • Use the profiles on the prospects website. They are great for giving a list of typical work activities and skills or aptitudes that you will need to show evidence of on your application.
  • Google it - put the job title in a search engine and see what other similar sounding jobs come up, it might give you some clues as to what the role involves.
  • Talk to us

Do you have the skills?

You have seen a job advertised or researched the employer and want to make an application.

You need to be clear:

  • Why you want to do the job? You need to be able to write knowledgeably about it.
  • Why you want to work for them? See previous section.
  • That you have the skills and experience they are looking for. Dont worry if you don't have everything on the list - you probabaly have more than you think.

Find out more about applying for jobs: