Prior to the start of the Great Recession, there was significant demand for labor, so individuals simply had to apply online to a company’s website to be considered for an interview. It’s no secret that the job search has evolved over the last two and one-half years. The changes to the labor market have forced individuals to put in much more work to try and garner their dream career. The days of simply applying online are gone. The paradigm has shifted.

A recent Manpower survey found that 84% of the workforce will consider changing jobs as the economy improves. Other statistics have shown that roughly 25% of available jobs are actually listed online. Of those, many are posted to meet government regulations, but the hiring manager has already mentally chosen who she wants to hire. By only looking for jobs online, you may be missing 75%+ of the opportunities available.

So, how do you gather information about your target companies so that you can be best prepared for the job search process? By securing meaningful information from a variety of online and on ground sources.

I recommend that you review the following:

  • Company Websites – organizations are shifting spend away from posting jobs on job boards and are spending more time on creating content on their own pages. You’ll likely find videos of employee testimonials, honest customer reviews, helpful information about benefits and company culture, and content sharing their vision for the future.
  • Annual Statements – Whether you check with the SEC or find the annual statement on the company’s website, they’re treasure troves of information. You will learn about programs and services that will be relevant to your job. You’ll also find information about the organization’s strategic plan, which will be very helpful as you pitch how your transferrable skills will help the organization make or save money.
  • Social Media – LinkedIn and Facebook allow organizations to post jobs on their company pages, thereby limiting the need for job boards. Keeping an eye on the conversations occurring on a company’s wall will be very helpful when you are interviewing and the interviewer asks, “What do you know about _____?” You can also receive numerous leads on positions through the various social media channels; so get engaged with as many as you can.
  • Job Boards – although sites like and are losing steam, aggregators like and are still relevant. Not only will you learn about open jobs, there will be marketing material about the company that may be helpful.
  • Informational Interviews – through on ground networking, or connecting on social media channels, ask people inside your target company for 15-minute informational interviews. Be sure to have seven to ten questions prepared that will shed light on the recruitment process, but be sure to provide valuable insights into how you can help them achieve their goals.
  • Customer Reviews – Websites like or aren’t typically known for their job search functionality, but I love to read reviews because it helps to provide a complete picture about how the company provides customer service in good times and bad.
  • “Venting” Sites – These sites may not always have objective reviews, but and help to provide anonymous insider information about total rewards packages, interview questions commonly asked, and photos of life at the company.
  • Industry Reports – Organizations, such as Datamonitor and Hoovers, provide very detailed insider information about an organization. You can use the information during any part of your job search process.
  • Networking – Last, but certainly not least, is pounding the pavement. The more people you know equal the more people who can refer you into the companies that you are targeting. Employee referral programs are very valuable tools to an organization as they typically provide qualified candidates with a built-in network. I suggest that you get out to multiple networking events each week and make two to three meaningful relationships at each one. Through general conversation you will learn about openings not posted and who to talk to to secure the interview.

The 21st century job search looks much different than the one from the 20th century. Prepare yourself for the career of your dreams by gathering meaningful information and insights into your target company before you even apply for a job. I suggest that you compile roughly five pages of content on the company you want to work for.

As Booker T. Washington once said, “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

Be uncommon. Be indispensable.