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Do your research - why and how

The first stage in any career search is research. Find out as much as you can about the job and organisation you are applying for. This is equally important whether you are applying for a job vacancy that is advertised or if you plan to send a speculative application to an organisation you’re interested in working for.

Why is doing research so important?

It does take time and you might feel like all this research is a waste of time – especially if you are applying to a number of different companies. But, it is hugely important to know about the company and the role you are applying for, before you actually send in your application. So, how can research prove useful to your job search?

By doing your research, you will:=

Be well informed

It’s your chance to find out more about the company or job before you apply. You can make sure that they are the right fit for you and that the advertised job will actually use your strengths, enable you to grow your skills and progress your career.

Identify key skills

Research can help you identify key skills and competencies that the company may be looking for in candidates. This will help you tailor your CV, application and/or covering letter accordingly to bring out your strengths and job-relevant skills.

Discover new opportunities

You may find other job opportunities that you hadn’t previously seen advertised within that company, or identify other possible contacts to send a speculative application to. Research may also lead you to other departments within that organisation for which your strengths and skills would be suitable.

Focus your job search

You may be able to identify companies or sectors that you feel are not suited to your skillset or career ambitions. This will help you avoid unnecessary or inappropriate applications, which would be a waste of your time and energy.

Why does a recruiter need to see you have done your research?

  • Recruiters want to see personalised applications, rather than a standard ‘one-size fits all’ style application.
  • Recruiting is a long and costly process, so employers want to have confidence that you want the job they are offering, not just any job. Doing your research will help them understand this – especially at interview stage.


Here are just a few suggested sources that you could use.

  • The internet
  •  Corporate brochures, video, booklets
  • Company annual review
  • Information you have gathered from careers fairs
  • Reference files from your careers service
  • Public, business or academic libraries
  • Your friends, family and people you know who work in the company, sector or profession you are interested in
  • Academic blogs or forums

While going through the information you find about the company, try to use your critical abilities as much as you can. Don’t just absorb details, try to read between the lines. This will help you identify issues that the company might be having, or traits that not many people associate with that company, but are close to what you are looking for in an employer. 

The recruiter doesn’t expect you to know the whole history of the company year by year, but they are looking for someone who can select the most important details and put them into context. This may also be part of how they assess your commercial awareness skills.