Research.  The word probably conjures up bad memories from your school years where you spent hours in the library, leafing through books and periodicals to complete that paper you’d waited until the last minute to start.

Fortunately, with improvements in technology, more information is right at our fingertips via the world wide web then ever before.  We can access information about almost everything from our computers, tablets and phones.

So with all this information so easy to find – why are mostjobseekers waiting until their interview to start researching?

Certainly, once an offer has been extended, it’s an excellent time to research a company’s history, annual reports, industry and events. However, knowing this information really doesn’t make you stand out above your competition.

Here are a few recommendations for using research throughout your job search to help you gain a competitive edge:

Find a problem you are qualified to solve, and use research to craft a custom resume to demonstrate it.  Show how you have previously:

  • Solved the problems a target company is facing
  • Capitalized on opportunities a target company is currently exploring
  • Overcome problems or roadblocks to achieve goals similar to that of your target company

Ask questions during your interview.  Engage an interviewer to discuss challenges that you have already solved.

  • Figure out how you can turn company roadblocks into questions that address the problem.
  • Consider how to monetize the issue (“how much will you lose if the opportunity is missed?”) to further demonstrate how your experience is a relatively inexpensive solution to their problem

Research the company culture to discover clues about the best communication style for your resume and in-person interaction.

  • Review pictures on the company’s website and annual reports, read employee quotes, review LinkedIn Profiles, visit their company YouTube Channel, anything that can help you figure out the best dress style, office setting, level of formality, etc.

Now that you’ve seen how research can help your job search, here are a few places to help you find information on your target companies:

  • Organization Website
  • LinkedIn
  • The company’s YouTube Facebook or Twitter pages
  • Pres Releases
  • Organization Blogs / Industry Blogs / Competitor Blogs
  • Glassdoor
  • Google
  • Quarterly / Annual Reports (for Public companies, regulated industries, and some Non-profits, Hospitals, and Educational institutions)