erica.employer.researchEmployer research can help you identify reasons why this is the right (or wrong) employer for you.  Determining a cultural fit is just as important for you as it is the employer.  Once you target specific employers, you can gear your networking efforts towards those employers.

Employers Determine “Fit”

Employers use the application process and interview to determine if you would “fit in” with their company culture.  They do this by asking you to describe yourself, your ideal manager, whether you like to work independently or part of a team, and what you know about their company.  Your responses indicate if you would fit in with the normal operations of the company.

Finding Your Preferred Company Culture

These same questions can help you make the determination.  Ask yourself these questions as you research the employer.  You can gather information from the company’s website, such as the “About Us” or “Mission Statement” sections.  Following the company on social media is also very helpful, as the Communications or Social Media Manager sending out tweets or posts typically represents the company brand.

Do you enjoy following them on social media?  Do you use their products or services?  Are you proud of the contributions the company makes?  Chances are, the more your follow a company or are a fan of their products and services, the more likely you will learn about their company culture.  You’ll see key terms pop up through their media and announcements relating to a team atmosphere, or a few key individuals, or whether the company is laid back and humorous or all business.

If you can visit the employer, could you picture yourself working there?  If so, you are ready to add them to your list of Target Employers.

Target Employers

Targeting employers is key to the job search process.  With the vast amount of competition, your experience and skills should be presented in a way that shows you can meet the needs of the company.  When you develop a list of target employers, you can tailor your resume and cover letter to speak to their company and their needs.

Explain why you would be the best fit for the opening at hand and reference parts of your research.  News, media announcements, or aligning your career goals with similar verbiage as their mission statement can add that “something extra” to help make your application materials stand out.

Potential Networking Contacts for Target Employers

Networking and connecting with current or former employees can help during the job search and application process.  If the company is currently hiring, a referral from a networking contact may help you get an interview.  If they are not currently hiring, a referral may help you set up an informational interview which could potentially get you in contact with a hiring manager.

How do you find people within the company?  Ask around- tap into your current network and then interact with the company on social media.  Browse LinkedIn to see if any current or former employees have a mutual connection with you.  If so, ask that mutual connection if they could introduce you.  Do any of the employees join specific groups on LinkedIn?  If the groups are relevant to your job search goals, join them.  LinkedIn Groups provide a great way to interact with people that you have not met yet, and it gives you a chance to share your thoughts or relevant industry information.  Contributing in these settings or elsewhere on networking sites can raise your credibility and will make those you interact with more likely to connect- even if you have yet to meet in person.

Getting Started

Identifying your target employer takes time, but the research will make your contacts and application stand out.  Rapidly applying from place to place and sending the same resume and generic cover letter would likely get the same result: minimal response.  Before you apply, use these steps to ensure you market yourself effectively against the competition.

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