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Career Research

Company Research overview

Whether you have an interview scheduled, are applying for a job, or are seeking companies of the type you'd like to work for, some basic research can help you learn enough about a company or organization to give you a step up and help you feel more confident. 

A few things to consider include:

  • What does the company say about itself?  See the company's own website, mission, goals, annual report, etc.
  • What financial or management information is available about the company?  Using databases that include company analysis like financial reports, SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analyses and company histories can tell you a lot.   
  • What is happening in the INDUSTRY the company is a part of?  An industry report, when available, can help you understand the trends,  customers, competitors, opportunities and challenges that all similar companies are dealing with.

Size makes a difference.

  • Companies and organizations of different sizes and different types require different approaches.  At the least, you can consider whether your company is a public or private company or a non-profit organization.  Is the company or organization very large, medium-sized, or small?  Large, public companies will generally have more information available, but smaller companies can be researched in various places, as well.  

 

Large companies and public companies

Most very large companies and especially publicly traded companies are easier to research than smaller and/or private companies.  Public companies are traded on the stock market and are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to report certain financial information.  A public company will have a symbol for the exchange where it is traded.  For example, The Walt Disney Company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and has the trading symbol DIS.

Levi Strauss is an example of a private company that is very large, so quite a lot of information is available even though the company is not traded on the stock market.

Places to search for information on large and/or public companies:

COMPANY WEBSITE

The company website is the place to start any research on a company.  Remember that this is information from the company, not from objective external sources.  HINT: Look past the customer-facing sales content for links like ABOUT, INVESTOR RELATIONS, and ANNUAL REPORT.  These will tell you more about the company's business philosophy, goals, financials, and mission. 

DATABASES

  • Start with a COMPANY SEARCH
  • If you find your company, explore reports behind the various links, including:
    • Financials
    • Rankings
    • Companies with Similar Revenue
    • Industries (for information beyond your company on trends, issues, changes, etc., that your company is facing)
  • Next try the SWOT REPORTS and COMPANY HISTORIES searches:
    • Look for "COMPANIES" in the gray bar at the top of the search page.  Search both SWOT REPORTS and COMPANY HISTORIES for your company name.

An additional source of Company History information.  Knowing the historical context for your company's present situation can help you better understand its plans for growth and change and/or the desire to maintain its historic brand or image.

NEWSPAPERS

Search for news from papers in the company's home city, national newspapers, and business newspapers.

Small and/or private Companies

Smaller and private companies may not have as much information available.  However, trying the same tools mentioned above is a good idea.  

COMPANY WEBSITE

The company website is the place to start any research on a company.  Remember that this is information from the company, not from objective external sources.  HINT: Look past the customer-facing sales content for links like ABOUT, INVESTOR RELATIONS, and ANNUAL REPORT.  These will tell you more about the company's business philosophy, goals, financials, and mission.   Financial information may  be limited for a for most private companies, especially small ones..

DATABASES

NEWSPAPERS

Search for news from Papers in the company's home city, national newspapers, and business newspapers.

Nonprofit Organizations

ORGANIZATION WEBSITE

The organization's website is the place to start your research on an organization.  Remember that this is information from the organization, not from objective external sources.  Use the ABOUT or ABOUT US links.  Search for ANNUAL REPORTS and any FINANCIAL information. Examine the MISSION and any MEDIA COVERAGE or ACHIEVEMENTS highlighted on the web site.  

TAX RETURNS AND OTHER INFORMATION

NEWSPAPERS

Search for news from papers in the organization's home city and in regional and national newspapers.

THE LIBRARY'S DISCOVERY SEARCH

https://library.colum.edu/  The main search box on the Library home page is a fine place to search for articles about  an organization or a company.  A successful search may lead you to magazine articles, news stories, trade journal articles, or other materials, depending on how well-known your organization is.