How to research a prospective employer: Step 4 – use online feeds and alerts

Anthony Haynes writes: Whether you are preparing to apply for a job or simply deciding whether to do so, our experiences of working with candidates suggest that it’s worth investing time in doing your homework. In particular, it’s worth researching the employer so as to develop a 360 degree picture of them. Each day this week we are publishing a practical tip for doing so.

Step 4: set up a system for acquiring information online


Monday’s post in this series recommending analysis of the ‘boring bits’ of an employer’s website. We can think of this as proactive research — you have to take the initiative by going to the website.

This kind of information can be supplemented by reactive — that is, simply reading information that comes to you, though naturally requires some initial activity in terms of setting up alerts.

The most relevant sources include Google alerts, Twitter, email newsletters, RSS, and the trade press.

Google alerts allow you to select the type of news source that you draw information from and how frequently you received it. They save you from having endlessly to search the web for news. Twitter as a source of information on employers is probably most convenient when used to set up a bespoke list, removing the need to trawl through vast numbers of miscellaneous tweets on a daily basis. Email newsletters can include subscription to organisations’ press releases. RSS seems rather underused: the advantage of using it is to collect emails all in one place within clogging up your standard inbox.  Most trade press magazines and periodical now provide subscriptions to e-newsletters, sometimes free of charge.

Such sources represent a classic example of pump priming: they require initial investment in time to set them up, but the make things easy for you. Overall, they can provide confidence when making an application that you are well-informed and up to date.

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