Monday, June 17, 2013

Research the Company Before That All-Important Interview

The U.S. continues to experience a sluggish labor-market recovery, despite better than expectant job creation numbers released for the month of May. According to the many media outlets, the jobs behind the numbers are mostly low-paying positions. During the economic downturn, numerous high-paying jobs were eliminated, leaving many high-skilled workers unemployed. With so many people looking for employment, how does one gain a competitive edge over the competition when interviewing for a job? Be prepared.

One way to prepare for an interview is to research the company ahead of time for which you seek employment. This step can give you an edge in answering potential questions about the company and also a heads up in knowing what questions to ask. Most people think that going to the company’s website is the only way to research a company. Unfortunately, not all websites provide all the information you’ll need to have to get a leg up on your competition.

The Birmingham Public Library provides remote access to Mergent Online, a one-stop shop for researching public and private companies. This database includes company information such as, contacts, business description, company history, executives, joint ventures, properties, subsidiaries, long term debt, and capital stock. It also includes company financials like ratios, income statements, balances sheet, annual reports, ratio analysis, news reports, and competitors.

The Birmingham Public Library also has many helpful books about what type of information to look for when researching companies. Written by Levinson and Perry, one such book is Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. In Chapter 5 (Research Plan), the authors provide you with several categories to consider when researching a company, in addition to various questions to consider under each category. For example:

Financial Category

  • What do the numbers say? How are the company’s balance sheets, income statement, earnings per share, dividend(s)? What do they indicate about the company’s health?
  • What is the debt-to-income ratio? Remember, cash is king.
  • How is the stock pricing doing? Why is it moving?
  • How is the stock doing against its competitors? Against the market as a whole?
  • Are there other companies where you should be interviewing?
  • What do the analysts think?

Is it time for a new career? How about a different aspect of your current job, such as upgrading and advancing? Perhaps you’re underemployed and looking for a higher paying job. Whatever situation you find yourself in, the Birmingham Public Library has resources that can assist with gaining a competitive advantage over other candidates.

Submitted by K. Jackson
Business, Science, & Technology Department
Central Library

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