You should always do this type of research to determine potential target companies. The experts say that too.
How do people do this?
Actually, my way of doing the research is simple, and even overly-time-consuming (read: I wasted time “researching” on the Internet (“just one more click!)). I did not think about a model to ensure I was headed in the right direction, like what Susan Strayer or Mike Murray have in their books. I just used Google to search on various things like “product manager” & my city. I would spend a lot of time sifting through job boards, seeing who was hiring for what position, and then use Google to do research on either that job title or that company. I’m not even sure I knew what I was looking for, other than “anything I could find.”
In the last year I’ve met some people that do research for a living. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Research with a purpose. Figure out what do you need to know about the company or industry, and then begin to look for answers to those questions. My “mud on the wall” research sessions had to be inefficient.
Get help and advice. I have friends that are good at research. I have mentors that think a couple of levels above my level of thinking (of course, that’s what a mentor is!). Find out from them what the questions should be, and what tools they use.
Outsource, if possible. I didn’t have the money, and the exercise was good for me, but I know some of you don’t have the time or technical skills to effectively do a research project. It makes sense to outsource the project to someone that knows the questions and can get you the answers quicker and more complete than you can.
Don’t have time?? Even if you are unemployed and dedicate your entire time to a job search, there are lots of things you need to do. Networking is one of them. Don’t neglect some of the harder things (networking is hard for lots of people) to do the easier things (“surfing” the internet is easy for most people). Make effective use of your limited time!
Get familiar with tools other than Google, tools that were designed to do this type of research. I’ve been jealous of the research tools that outplacement companies offer their clients – I’m talking about the expensive databases they have available to do this research. But I’ve found websites that will help you do the same thing – one of these days I’m going to go more in-depth on these tools but for now you can start to get familiar with any of these:
LinkedIn – did you know you can do research here? Just go into the advanced search screen and you can search on companies, industries, titles, etc. Recruiters do it all the time to find candidates (that’s why you should have a good, fleshed out profile with keywords that they might search for – you should also have a network bigger than 5 people, as your search results are limited to your network (I think up to three degrees).
Jigsaw – Inc. Magazine calls it “the world’s biggest rolodex” – basically you upload your contacts which gives you “currency” – you can then get a certain number of contacts out of it. Salespeople use this all the time as they are trying to network into a company (sound like familiar advice?)
ZoomInfo – “The search engine for discovering people, companies and relationships” … go search your name, or your company’s name and see what comes up. This is a great way to find where you have been mentioned, and the way it shows the results is more geared towards this type of research than a regular search engine is.
Google and Yahoo – Ok, so these are incredible tools but I doubt research experts actually use just one. Don’t neglect the easy tools – the results won’t come back as nice or precise as the others, but you’ll likely find different kinds of information.
Have guerrilla marketing tendencies? Find a way to get access to the premium services. I’ve tried ZoomInfo’s premium services and it is INCREDIBLE. But you won’t be able to afford it, personally (if you could, step on over to the JibberJobber upgrade page and buy lifetime access… while you are at it, by two! ;)). Perhaps you know someone that might have access to some advanced tools – maybe a law student that has access to LexisNexis, or something like that. Be creative and think about who you know that might have the access you need.
Of course, when you do this company research make sure you keep good records. This is where JibberJobber comes in. You can either record your notes as log entries, or you can put them in a Word document, put that in the Document Manager, and then link it to the company. And of course, make sure you put all the company contacts in (regular users get one free company contact, premium get unlimited contacts per company).
Finally, if you are interested in outsourcing this check out Fast Track Transition Career Research. If nothing else, sign up for the newsletter to see what they think about, what they talk about. (I think its important to know what industry leaders do, that’s why the links on the left include recruiters and other employment experts – resources for you to better understand the employment space). For some of you they are affordable (and worth it!) and they have a two to four day turnaround – better than you fidgiting around for two to four days!
How do you do research? What tools/techniques are beneficial to you?