Researching Employers in the 21st Century Workforce

Long gone are the days of having to comb through shelves and shelves of books in the dusty, dark hallways of your local library to find relevant publications that can provide insights. The Dewey Decimal system and card catalog have been replaced by the ubiquitous Internet and 24x7x365 access to infinite background information on nearly every conceivable phase of a business’s operations.

How do you comb through this Galaxy of available information in an efficient manner, and find out what you need to know about the industries and companies that you are interested in pursuing?

The answer lies in three words: research…research…research.

Researching Yourself
First off, you need to understand that as you attempt to match your own values, needs, personality and ideal working environment you need to conduct a personal assessment of yourself. That can be accomplished by working with an outplacement firm or engaging the services of a career coach / employment consultant to conduct a personal assessment.

A few of the most notable assessment personality typing tools that are available to you online that you must complete, in order to have a better understanding of yourself include:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI (
The Birkman Method (
The Keirsey Temperament Sorter (

Researching Companies and Industries

There are countless resources available to you for conducting company and industry research. First, you need to realize that there are two types of information that you can gather about a specific company; its formal culture and its informal culture. You need to have an understanding of both, in order to target companies effectively.

The formal culture of an organization is their spin – what they attempt to convey about themselves. That is the information that they disseminate to the market through their public relations efforts, what their Senior Management says about themselves, and what their website says. IT IS WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THUS THEIR ATTEMPTS TO DIRECTLY INFLUENCE WANT THEIR INDUSTRY THINKS THEY ARE.

The information they put out about their company is useful to the extent that it highlights what their company wants to be. It all starts with their mission statement and vision, and their policies towards hiring, employee retention, professional development, benefits, pay, philanthropic (goodwill) efforts they make in their local communities, Green policies, level of influence they attempt to exert in public policy, etc. It is the collective sets of values and emphasis that they are making to the markets they compete to and the business community at large. Therefore, there is significant value for you in understanding the FORMAL culture of the organization.

And then there is the informal culture. The informal culture of any organization is the actual environment that they have created through their systems and processes, office dynamics, actions they take in the marketplace. It’s how they actually operate, and what their culture is like when you are actually working there. In effect, it’s the “No Spin Zone” or the way things actually are when you begin working there.

For company press releases, check out

To obtain background information on the company, start out with the Securities & Exchange Commission Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval (EDGAR) Database of company annual 10K and quarterly 10Q Filings – (

For general information some great websites are: –

Dun & Bradstreet:

Hoovers Research:

Vault: –

Company overviews can be found on –

Zacks offers company investment research (for investment research)

Some great online tutorials for you to obtain research on companies online:

QuintCareers –

The Riley Guide –

For information on Manufacturing and Engineering industries start with:

Thomas Publishing –

For privately held companies an excellent resource is the MacMillan Directory of Leading Private Companies.

For research into professional Associations, check out the Encyclopedia of Associations.