Sort of like Facebook stalking—for your career.

One habit of savvy professionals is to keep tabs on companies of interest, such as companies that have a product you believe in or a workplace culture you admire. And any time you’re applying for a job, it’s well worth your while to do a little sleuthing on the target company’s background, branding, and vision.

Sleuth a Target Company BEFORE You Apply for a Job

A few minutes of Internet research can give you insights on your target company’s brand, vision, and direction. This gives a clearer picture of what they’re looking for in their employees, how you should tailor your resume, and even how you should present yourself at an interview. (Suit and tie or hipster glasses?)

Here are 20 ways to sleuth a target company, all without leaving your desk chair.

  1. Google recent news and buzz about the company.
  2. Use LinkedIn to find connections of yours that work/ed there. Reach out to those connections to learn about the HR structure, hiring strategies, company culture, and other choice deets.
  3. Call the company switchboard and ask who you can talk to about the job opening.
  4. Read the About and Vision pages on their web site.
  5. Call the company directory to find the HR manager’s name and/or direct email address.
  6. Check for Twitter feeds by the company or its execs.
  7. Research their competitors.
  8. Check for a company Instagram page.
  9. Check for a company Facebook page.
  10. Google the company’s niche or industry to identify trends and events.
  11. Google search their products. Notice where they sell, where they advertise, and how they market.
  12. Find out what industry events, conferences, tradeshows they attend.
  13. Use LinkedIn to view the profiles of people at the company in jobs that are similar to yours. Notice any common backgrounds they tend to hire from.
  14. Browse through the company’s web site and take note of how the company describes itself. What words are used to describe its vision, culture, purpose, and mission?
  15. Follow the company’s updates on LinkedIn.
  16. Read online reviews of their products.
  17. Analyze the branding of the company’s web site. Is it conservative grays and blues or stylish fuchsias?
  18. Find the names of their founder and executives and Google them.
  19. View your potential new manager’s LinkedIn profile. (Bonus: This might prompt them to look at YOUR profile.)
  20. Some companies post their internal mission statements and employee expectations online. See, for example, see here and here. See if you can find something similar for your target company by googling terms like mission statement and culture.

This kind of preparation is the foundation for an upwardly mobile career and a successful job search. Happy sleuthing!

And as always, reach out to RedRocketResume with your resume requests or career conundrums.