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Researching your prospective employer – how do you know if you will excel?

When the job market’s tough, it may seem like you can’t be too selective about which companies you’re going to apply to, but it’s still vitally important. That’s why it’s essential to  build up as good a picture as possible of how a business works, what its core values are and what your pay is likely to be. By doing your homework you’ll also stand out at interview and get a good idea if it’s the sort of place where your career will thrive.

It may sound like an obvious first step, but it’s surprising just how many people apply for a job without having looked carefully at a company's website. It’s the ideal place to get a clear idea of how the company sees itself, to discover the achievements that it’s most proud about and even identify key personnel, including the ones who may be on the interview panel.

You'll also get a clear idea of the company's brand by looking at their website. While this is useful it’s more important to root out the core values and mission statement as these will get you straight to the heart of what makes the organisation tick. 

As social media also plays such a key part in every organisation’s marketing today you should also search out their Facebook and Linkedin pages and Twitter feed as these can also give a very valuable insight into their public face.

Talking to your recruitment agency also has a big role to play in researching any prospective new employer. They will probably have placed many previous candidates with them and will have in-depth knowledge of what they stand for and what sort of employee will thrive in the environment. In addition, the fact that they are putting you forward as a candidate is a good indication that it will be a good match on both sides. So don’t be backwards in asking the recruiters anything you like about the place you hope to work. After all, it really will pay to know as much as possible to ensure that you’re making the right career move.

If you get through the first stage of the recruitment process and secure an interview make sure you know who’s going to be interviewing you and search on LinkedIn or Twitter to see what you can find out about their career history, areas of expertise and interests. You’re certain to feel more confident in the interview if you are conversing with someone you know something about.

When it comes to the part of the interview when you’re asked for your questions looking into how they could help with your future development and prospective career path is a good area to explore. This is also the time to ask what your day to day work will entail, who you will be reporting to, what the work-life balance is like and more about the social side of the company. If they’re honest with you and you’re confident that there will be a good “fit” then there’s every reason to anticipate that you’ll have a productive and successful future there.

It is important to bear in mind that most organisations won't tick every single one of the boxes on your dream employer wish list. It’s like virtually everything in life in that there are usually certain compromises you need to make. But by being fully aware of a company's values and asking the right questions at interview, you’ll be in the best possible position to weigh up how significant these may be. You’ll also be in an exceptionally strong position to choose a place where your career will flourish.