Let's face it: the job market is tough. There are too few jobs for too many qualified people. Simply being able to do a job and fill out an application doesn't cut it anymore. Job seekers need to reevaluate their "get hired" strategy and becoming a world-class job search researcher is a great way to start.
Research tells an employer that the applicant actually cares about a specific position at a specific company. It's one way a job seeker can tell a potential employer that not only are they capable, but they are motivated, resourceful, and smart.
Here are seven key questions any job applicant should answer before submitting an application, resume, or one-page job proposal:
What is this company?
This seems like a silly question. However, in tough times, desperate job seekers are known to "carpet bomb" employers with applications without a second thought about the various companies they're applying to. Visit the company website and learn about the company's mission statement, foundation, executive staff, and most importantly, the products or services provided.
What kind of customers does this company deal with?
Learn about the products or services the company offers and who buys it. If you're hired, these are the people you will be dealing with on a daily basis. Look up customer reviews about the company and see where the problems are. This will also give you something to talk about in your application and interview.
Who are their competitors?
Figure out who the top-notch competitors are. What are the competitors doing similarly and differently? Is there something that the competitors are doing that this company is falling short? You might find that the competitor is a better company to apply to.
What makes this company special?
Google the company to see what other people are saying. How is it doing financially now and over the years? How does it stand out in the marketplace? Look up professional and customer reviews of products and services provided.
What are the employees like?
How big is the company? If you are hired, will you be a one-person department or on a large team? Most importantly, do they enjoy working for the company? Check out LinkedIn and Facebook to find current and former employees to contact. You’d be surprised to learn the dirty truth about your "dream" company.
What are some of the skill/experience gaps within the department that I can fill?
Obviously, if they're hiring, there's a gap that needs to be filled. However, chances are, your company in question doesn't realize exactly which skills, experience, and ideas they need. Beyond matching the job description, ensure that you match that gap.
Who would hire me?
One great way to ensure that an employer won't hire you is to make sure not to know their name. While "to whom it may concern" is a polite alternative to writing a name, it screams generic and doesn't stand out. Most hiring manager's names are easily accessible on LinkedIn, the job posting, or the company website. Go a step further and do some light research on them, you'll have a better idea of who you're meeting.
What other questions should job seekers answer before applying?
Joanna Riley Weidenmiller is the CEO of The One-Page Company and is responsible for executing the company’s strategic development plan. Prior to launching One-Page, Joanna was the CEO of Performance Advertising. Joanna earned her B.A. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and lives between Beijing, China, and San Francisco. For more information about Joanna and the rest of the 1-Page team, click here.