I have written extensively about the importance of individuals creating their personal and online brands. Since 1997, when Tom Peters first introduced the concept of brand management for individuals, we have known that we should take responsibility for the way we present our individual brands to the world, both in person and online.
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I haven’t written so much about company brands, however. How do you look for a company’s brand as you job search and consider whether you want to work for a particular company or not? The answer is simple, but the process of exploring a company’s brand can be time-consuming. It means you have to do your homework, and it means you have to know how to find the information you want and need.
Here are 5 suggestions for how I would recommend you look for a company’s employer brand.
1. Explore the company’s website.
Study it carefully. What does the website say about the company’s mission and vision? Who are the top people, and what can you learn about them? Research the company and its staff by searching the “About Us” portion of the website, and take note of what they say is important to them. Is it providing a service? Is it about providing top-notch products? Is it about quality control or customer service? Or is it more about the bottom line? You can ferret this out by reading the descriptions offered but also by reading between the lines. What doesn’t it say about its values and its purpose for being in business? Just as with individuals, often what is left unsaid is more important than what is said.
2. Discover who the key people in the organization are.
Look for them on LinkedIn. Find other biographical information that may be online telling you more than the website may tell you about who the people in the company are and what they care about that goes beyond their roles in the organization. Pay close attention to the information that you find about the person(s) to whom you may be reporting, and be sure to check out whatever information you can find about the people who are likely going to be interviewing you. They will have done their homework on you, and they will have checked you out in advance of your appointment. You should do the same and know as much about them as you can.
3. Read up on what is currently happening with the company.
You can find certain financial reports online, and you should check those out before deciding to go to work for any company. Are they in solid financial shape, or are they struggling? If they are having trouble, you may want to stop to consider whether they are going to be in business in 6 months to a year. If you are in a position to take a risk with them because you believe in their mission, and you think you can help them succeed, go for it. If you are just looking for a job that will be reliable, however, you may want to think again about throwing your lot in with a company that is having a tough time of it.
4. Check Glassdoor.com to get the inside scoop on the company.
Glassdoor.com allows employees, both current, and past, to post anonymous comments about their employers for others to review. Along with salaries, employees can offer thoughts on what it is like to work for a company. You need to keep in mind that a disgruntled employee may write a negative review, but you can factor that knowledge into the mix as you check out what people have to say about the company you are researching.
5. Connect with employees on LinkedIn.
Part of the beauty of LinkedIn is that you can find employees who are currently working for a particular company, or you can find former employees. With a friendly, customized message, you can connect with individuals and then ask them directly if they could share insights with you about what it is like to work where they work or have worked. Again, you may have to weigh in factors that could create a biased point of view on the part of the person with whom you are communicating, but you should do that all of the time anyway. People have different experiences and view those experiences through the lens of their specific bias and history. You can filter out what you think sounds like a biased point of view and factor it into everything else you have learned about the company’s culture.
There are other ways for you to explore and gain intel on a company you might want to work for, but these are some of the more critical methods. Doing this research may help you learn what you need to know to decide if you want to pursue a particular job with a company or not.
Never go into an interview without having done this sort of homework. You would rather know what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line rather than after. It may take a little time and effort to do this background research, but it could save you a lot of time and potential heartache in the long run. Know as much as you can about a company’s employer brand so you can avoid getting burned when you find out too late what you could have found out in advance with a little effort.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. She also works with mid-career professionals from all walks of life who find themselves at a career crossroads either by chance or by choice. Learn more about Kitty at TeachersinTransition.com or at Boitnott Coaching.com.
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