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Chapter 6 Step 3: Conduct In-Depth Research

Figure 6.1 The Six-Step Job Search Process: Step 3


What Do We Mean by Conduct In-Depth Research?

At this point in your search, you have done the following two steps:

  1. Identified your targets and have a list of organizations to approach (step 1)
  2. Created your marketing campaign, for example, résumé, cover letter, online profile, and networking pitch, to position yourself to these prospective employers (step 2)

This chapter covers what you are looking for when you research.

You might be tempted to take your marketing campaign public—broadly distributing your résumé, posting it on job boards, and sharing it with everyone you know. You definitely need to put yourself out there via networking and interviewing in order to get a job. However, networking and interviewing is step 4. Before you go out on the market in front of people as a legitimate job contender, you need to complete step 3, conduct in-depth research.

Every time you put yourself in front of someone, it is a potential job interview situation. You don’t know whom people know or if they may know of a job opening. So you want to make the best impression whenever you speak to anyone. If you use face-to-face interaction for your research, you risk coming across as a novice to someone who can really help you. On the other hand, if you take time to do some secondary researchResearch from printed or published sources. This is different from primary research where you are actually speaking with people firsthand or collecting the data yourself. beforehand, you demonstrate knowledge of the job, organization, or industry, and you can use the personal interaction to research above and beyond what you can find in published material. Therefore, research must precede networking of any kind.

Research is often undervalued in the job search. Recruiters often complain that candidates come into interviews with little knowledge of the position, organization, and industry for which they are interviewing. Are you guilty of too little research?

  • Have you gone to job interviews where you know little about the job, organization, or industry beforehand?
  • Do you think reviewing the job description or visiting the organization’s website is enough research?
  • Do you use the interview itself as a main source for your information?
  • Why might more research be beneficial?

According to Holly White, HR manager for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “I am impressed by a candidate that intimately knows the organization, the current focus/strategy and is able to engage the interview panel in a thoughtful discussion about issues and opportunities.”Author interviewed Holly White directly for a post she did on her website:

Table 6.1 Things to Know about Your Target Job, Organization, and Industry

Job Organization Industry
  • Responsibilities
  • Day-to-day activity
  • Reporting structure
  • Growth prospects
  • Compensation and lifestyle
  • Backgrounds required
  • Financials
  • Staff
  • Locations and structure
  • Culture
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Growth prospects
  • Upcoming challenges
  • Top organizations
  • Market characteristics
  • Growth prospects
  • Upcoming challenges
  • Trends

This chapter includes how to conduct in-depth research. Yes, it includes reviewing the job description and organization website. Yes, interviews are a source of information. But as you can see from Table 6.1 "Things to Know about Your Target Job, Organization, and Industry", you need more information than is likely to be found in just the posting and the website. There are many other additional resources to consult:

  • Internet: job boards, online career information providers, Google Alerts
  • Library: Encyclopedia of Associations, business trade publications, research databases
  • Financial statements: Hoovers, Guidestar, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, niche communities

This chapter details why in-depth research is critical to your job search:

  • In-depth research differentiates you from the many job seekers who do not research thoroughly and who therefore know less.
  • In-depth research is tangible proof that you have taken the time and made it a priority to get to know your target employer.
  • In-depth research enables you to prepare talking pointsItems you want to make sure you talk about, or mention. and specific examples that match the requirements of the job and organization.
  • In-depth research enables you to find and start a relationship with the people who will make the hiring decisions.

Finally, this chapter talks about informational interviewsA meeting set up with the purpose of gathering information or exploring a topic.. Informational interviews are meetings where you are the interviewer, and the person with whom you are meeting has information that you want—for example, about a specific job, organization, or industry. Informational interviews are a type of networking, but since the primary aim is to uncover information, we are including informational interviewing in the research chapter.

Informational interviews are a bridge between steps 3 and 4 because they enable you to test your research from step 3 before you more broadly go out into the market as a job seeker in Step 4, Networking and Interviewing. Many job seekers treat informational interviews like an interrogation, with a long list of questions to extract information from the interviewee. In this chapter, we take a more sophisticated approach to informational interviews. These interviews occur after some research is already completed, so the interview is not simply a series of questions to gain more information but rather a way to verify, refine, and test the information already researched. It is a two-way conversation, and you will be giving as well as receiving information.