If you are looking for career advancement outside of your current company, you need a list of target companies.
These are companies that seem, on the surface, to meet your main criteria regarding size, geography and industry who employ people like you. You can create that list easily enough. Heck, you can use Google Maps’ search function to identify companies in your industry in your geography.
The trick is knowing what to do with that list. You have to research the companies! Your goal is to understand the issues facing the company and the players who work there. Are they your kind of people? Can you extrapolate the big hairy problem facing the company?
Here are five steps you need to take to dig into a company to identify the issues, people and culture to determine if any individual company is right for you. At every step reflect on the issues raised by what you observe.
- Company website. Read every tab and link. Check out the media posts and news. What is going on recently? What people have come and gone? What new innovations are they sharing? Look for business direction and changes. Dig for leadership lists and email addresses.
- LinkedIn. How robust is their company page? A basic page without any information indicates a company that might not be up to date on social media and technology. Go to “See all” the employees with LinkedIn profiles. Start reading profiles to see what kind of people work there – hobbies, interests, background. Who are the leaders? Find the people who could be your boss and the folks who could be your colleagues. Are these people interesting to you? What would you talk to these folks about?
- Facebook. Check out the company page. Is the page active? Any fun activities noted? Does it look like you would like working there with those people? Check out the LinkedIn profiles of the people who post frequently.
- Google. Google the business leaders and perhaps the person who might be your boss for any interesting news and issues for those individuals and the company in general.
- Talk to people who used to work there or who work there now. What are the big issues? What do they like or dislike about working there?
This research might take you at least an hour for each company. An investment of time that bears dividends. Now step back and use your professional experience to understand what is probably going on in that company.
Michael used these steps to research the company down the street from his home. He added this research to his observations that the parking lot is fuller than it used to be and folks seem to be working every Saturday and most Sundays. He extrapolated that the company was either implementing a new system, had process improvements that could be made to reduce overtime, and/or possibly was facing an employee relations problem related to work/life balance. Michael has experience in all these issues.
Michael can use this information when he reaches out to the Plant Manager or Operations Manager. He can talk professional to professional about how to address what is likely happening in that plant. Now Michael has something to talk about with business leaders other than asking “Do you know about any open positions?” The conversation might turn around to what Michael is looking for (a new job) but in the meantime he can talk professional to professional about something meaningful to the business leaders in his target company. All because he did a little research!
What kind of investment are you willing to make to get what you want? Invest a little time, be a little curious and use your experience to understand the big issues at the companies you target. It is worth the effort!