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How to research a business? A recruiter’s 5 top tips to stand out from the crowd

Researching a business properly is one of the most important things you can do when applying for a job. Graduate recruitment specialist Sara Oxley explains the best approach.


When starting the daunting process of applying for graduate opportunities, it can be difficult to know where to begin. You may have received some guidance from your university careers advisor or from family members; yet, you may still be unsure whether an opportunity is the right one for you, and how to stand out from the crowd during the application process.   

To make the most informed decision, do your research! This will not only help you understand what kind of work you could be getting involved in, but will be key in the application and selection process. Here are our five top tips for researching a business:

Before you apply:

1. Select potential employers

Start by thoroughly researching potential employers to understand if they match your interests, aspirations and values. Then, tailor your CV to the specific role, team and business you’re applying to.

This will put you in a strong position should you receive an unscheduled telephone call from the recruiters, as you would look truly interested in the position and the company. Knowing one or two key facts about the company can really impress us recruiters!

2. Graduate Employment Rankings

Graduate Employment Rankings can be a great help in narrowing down your options by industry, and showing you some companies you may not have heard of.

However, you shouldn’t rely solely on these rankings as a lot of the information depends on whether an employer has subscribed to a specific ranking or on how many graduates have responded - and some of the requested information can be quite subjective.

Once you have chosen your potential employer:

3. The website

Have a look at a company’s website to learn more about their graduate opportunities, the support you will receive and what their latest projects are. It’s great to focus particularly on the projects that are in the area of most interest to you so you can talk about these during the recruitment process.

4. Social media

Social media is a great source of information for content on what it’s like to work for a company. For example, the nail challenge at one of our graduate events featured on Instagram and our graduates tweeted about it; however, this wouldn’t necessarily be included on our company website.

It can be great to highlight in an application or at an interview that you’ve looked in to our posts and some specific points of interest stood out on the company’s TwitterLinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts, etc.

LinkedIn is also a great source of information and we would encourage checking out company pages, blogs and employee profiles as it will show you what kind of career path you can take.  

5. Industry knowledge

Finally, refresh your industry-specific knowledge as this will help you ask relevant questions and consider any concerns or issues you would like to raise.

The best way to do this is to read industry specific magazines and go on discussion forums. This will show you where the business sits in relation to its competitors while giving you an insight into the challenges an industry may be facing. If you haven’t already, look into a student membership of a professional body as these often come with access to some useful resources like newsletters and libraries, and it looks great on your CV!

Also, be aware of how current affairs may impact an industry as events could have an effect on the role you could potentially secure. National news sources can help with this but depending on what area you would like to go into, it may be worth looking at industry specific coverage such as Building or Infrastructure Intelligence.

After your research:

Keep an eye out on future news by following the company on social media, this will increase your knowledge of the company and hopefully reaffirm your interest in the business.

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Apply to our 2018 Graduate Development Programme now.