In today’s job market, the people who are most successful are the ones who are best informed. Thorough research will help you stand out from other potential candidates at every stage. And to get the edge, you must be able to show that you really know your potential employer’s business. This helps to show that you understand their environment, and that you’re ready to adapt to it.

How can research help you find a job?

For a start, you can use the internet to apply for jobs. It is home to a vast range of dedicated job websites, newspaper job search tools and recruitment agencies. Whether an opening has been suggested to you by an agency or you’ve found the opportunity yourself, it’s a good idea to research your prospective employer and make sure you’re completely satisfied that you would like to work there. So where do you begin? You’ll be faced with a huge number of opportunities. You could use the internet to look up information about that company. You could research their activities, read their latest news and even find out if the salary suggested is in the region of the market average. There’s research you could do to prepare a more effective cover letter – showing exactly why you’re applying for the job and why you would fit in with their culture. You could also do research in preparation for an interview. As you can see, you will be faced with a huge range of possibilities, so it’s important that you create a search strategy.

The first question you must ask yourself is “what am I looking for?” This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to find the information they need because they lack a clear objective. Once you’ve clarified what it is you’re looking for, then ask yourself “where is this information likely to be found?” You’ll find a lot of information about a company on their own website, but you may often have to look further afield to get a broader picture. Good sources may include websites of public bodies, independent articles and sector-specific websites. Searching these effectively will require a careful choice of search terms and keywords, but the more precise your search, the better your results will be. Luckily, all the major internet search engines have an advanced search functionality.

So how do you apply this to a job search? It is essential that you undertake some research about a prospective employer before you apply. Start with the employer’s website, which should be easy to find using a search engine. And remember that some larger companies may have a main global site as well as smaller regional ones, so be careful which site you visit. Once on their site, find the job vacancies section. You could well find more information about the job there. Also, take the chance to find out about the company’s background. What are the company’s main activities? How are they organized? And, perhaps most importantly, what are their aims for the future? Can you see yourself there in two years’ time, and does their vision strike a chord with you? What does the Company say about its culture and behaviors, and do these matches with your wants and needs?

Armed with this information, you will be able to apply for jobs knowing exactly what the company and the job are about. You will also be better positioned to write a cover letter that demonstrates that you know what you are applying for. Let’s assume that you’ve been successful in your application. Does the offer of an interview mark the end up the internet’s usefulness in the process? Absolutely not! In fact, internet research still has an invaluable part to play. Before attending the interview, you need the clearest possible picture of how your role will fit into the company. And if there’s anything you can’t find, then you need to have the right questions prepared to ask the interviewer.

It is also a very good idea to look into the company’s current activities and news. A read through of their latest news section should give you a good idea of the issues that they feel are most important. The more thoroughly you can then research these, the better prepared you will be for the interview. It’s here that search engines come into play.

So that, in a nutshell, is how you can use the internet to your advantage. There is a huge amount of information out there, and the best thing to do is just get online and start digging.