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Company Research

Researching a Prosepctive Employer?

Are you writing a cover letter or preparing for a job interview with a company? Here are some of the things you will want to know about the company:

  • Is it a manufacturer or service provider? What is that product or service? Who buys it and why? What problems does the product/service solve?
  • What are the company's overall goals?
  • How big a company is it in sales volume or revenues?  Is it growing? Is it's industry growing?
  • Who's the competition?
  • What's the culture like? What's the overall management strategy?
  • How is it organized - as a private company, public, nonprofit, government agency?

Adapted from Andrea Kay's This Is How to Get Your Next Job. AMACOM, 2013.

Research Tips

The amount of company information available depends upon the type of company.
Use Getting Started to gather initial information and to find out if the company is:​

Publicly-Traded Companies
There is a great deal of information available on companies which trade on the stock market - SEC filings, annual reports, analysts' reports, news stories, books and case studies.

Private Companies
Information on private companies is usually limited to brief information in directories, news stories, and sometimes books. See web sites on the Private, Subsidiary, Branch tab for options.

Subsidiaries and Local Branches.
Subsidiaries are companies that are owned by larger companies. Research the parent company, but also search as if a private companies looking for articles in local papers.

International Companies
The amount of information on international companies varies. If the company trades on the U.S. exchanges it must file annual reports (20-F) with the SEC. Other information can be found in directories, databases, newspapers and magazines.

Nonprofit Organizations
Finances and other general information can be found in Form 990 which nonprofits must file with the IRS annually. Many are posted on the web at Some information can also be found in newspaper and journal articles.

See Strategic Management Insights for a refresher on tools for analyzing companies - SWOT, PEST, VRIO, Value Chain, etc.

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