Researching an Organisation

Why should you research an organisation?

  • Employers consider knowledge of the company as a reflection of the applicant's interest and enthusiasm for the company.
  • Research allows you to identify the needs of the organisation and market yourself appropriately.
  • You can demonstrate your knowledge of an employer in your written applications
  • Research gives you confidence in answering interview questions as you will know what they are looking for and it will give you ideas for questions to ask the interviewer.
  • Additionally, research allows you to make the following informed decisions about the company:
    • Is there a good fit between you and the company?
    • Do your values match?
    • Do your professional interests match?

Sources of information:

  • Organisation's web site
  • Annual reports also from the company website or hard copy from the company
  • Advertising material
  • Publications
  • Contacts who work for the organisation
  • Information from the press

What information is important?

  • Company culture: this includes company values, expectations of behaviour, dress codes, hours of work, work standards
  • Performance management, how performance is assessed and recognised
  • Mission and goals
  • Products and services
  • Demographic of clients
  • History
  • Size
  • Competitors
  • Financial position
  • Plans, directions
  • Current topical matters, such as key initiatives, senior staff members etc

Additional information you could find out about the organisation.

  • Recent changes in the organisation
  • Your potential boss
  • Your potential workmates
  • Your potential customers/clients
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats it faces) analysis based on your research of the organisation

Researching The Industry

The following websites are good sources of information on what jobs are available in different industries and what the outlook is for different industries.

Finding Companies In Your Area Of Interest

If you are trying to gather information on organisation within your industry you can use the following resources to locate potential employers.

Researching a role

Research the following information to get a clear understanding of the role that you are applying for.

  • Job descriptions for that role - read job descriptions either for the exact position you are applying to, or if there is no job description available, look at similar job descriptions with other organisations. These are often available on company web sites in the Careers or Human Resources section. For example, UNSW Human Resources has a page listing available positions, where you can link to selection criteria and contact officer for each job. In most public sector organisations the contact officer will supply you with a detailed job description/duty statement.
  • Private sector organisations often have information about general requirements and role descriptions.
  • Research similar roles in the press
  • Publications from Professional Organisations often describe what different professionals do in that industry.
  • Arrange information interviews with people you know, or know of, who work in a similar role. At an information interview it is important not to ask the person you are interviewing for a job. Prepare your questions before hand and remember to ask for anyone else they could recommend who could provide further assistance.