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How to Research a Company

Put on Your Detective Cap to Learn More About Your Potential Employer

Doing research on a company is one of the first steps to tailoring your job application and prepping for an interview. One of the more common ways people learn about the company is by googling it and seeing what kind of articles pop up in their search. Another way is to read the company's "FAQ" or "About Us" section. But if you rely on those sources alone, you will be only scraping the surface of the company. You'll also be reading the same things other competing job candidates will be reading. To get a leg up on your competitors, check out these little known sources:

  • 10-K filing. It's very possible that the company you are applying to is public (which means it's trading on the stock market), and all public companies have to file a 10-K filing. The Form 10-K is basically an annual report compiled by companies that summarizes the firm's performance and backs it up with data. You'll be able to see information on where the firm is going, what they're investing in, their competition, and where the majority of their revenue comes from. You'll be able to discern the firm's strengths and weaknesses, which will be helpful when you're figure out what value you can bring to the company. You can usually find the 10-K document in the investor's section of the corporate website or the SEC's website.
  • Annual report. The annual report is a different document from the 10-K and is pretty much a summary of the 10-K findings with less numbers and details and is in a format that is easier for laymen to understand. Reading the annual report and 10-K filing will help you have a better sense of what direction the company wants to take and its future goals. Having this knowledge will make it easier for you to better align your answers with the company's goals.

Read on for more.

  • Press releases. The press releases can be found in the "Press" section of the corporate website and are official documents stating company announcements. It's helpful to read these documents because they are usually up to date and you'll have a good sense of what kind of image the company wants to present and what's important to the company.
  • Competitor's documents. When you're done reading up on your dream company, be sure to check out similar documents on its competitor's website. This will help you learn more about the industry and help you come up with new suggestions that your target company will be interested in exploring. Companies are always on top of what their competitors are doing, so your hiring manager will be impressed to know that you've done your research.
Source: Thinkstock
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