Researching an Employer Before an Interview

We talk a lot here about how important it is to research a potential employer before a job interview. But we’ve never explained in detail about how and why you should do so.

Take a look below for why researching an employer is valuable and how to use the information during your interview.

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  • Start with the company’s website.

You’ll find a true wealth of information there. Check for news releases: this will tell you what the company is proud of and also will tell you if it’s planning on expanding, if it won an award, if it just hired a new marketing manager, etc.

You should look through every tab listed on its homepage. Look at its social media accounts. See what’s new and what its employees have accomplished.

If the company is publically traded, you’ll probably see a menu tab labeled “Investors” or “Investor Relations.” (This section might be under the About or even the public relations/marketing section, and if the company is multi-national, you may have to do some digging around the site to find it).

This section truly a gold mine: companies publically traded on a stock exchange in the United States must file each quarter what are called SEC filings.

You’ll want to check in particular for what are called “10-Q” reports. These are free to download and you will find within them what the company’s profit and loss was for the quarter, what went well for the company and what – well – didn’t go so well. (You may see a link to its annual report in that section and you should read it, but an annual report often only is filled with the positive stuff; quarterly filings tell everything about a company’s financial health. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires it.) The reports also often give an overview of what challenges and opportunities the industry in which the company offers services/products is facing and how well the company is faring inside those industry challenges.

Seriously: read the 10-Q reports. They are fascinating! (And just watch a hiring manager’s eyes widen in admiring amazement when you say at some point in the interview: “I just read your 10-Q for the third quarter and I found it interesting that….”)

  • Set a Google Alert for news about the company.

Go to Google Alerts and type in the name of the company, provide an email address where the alert can be sent and decide how often you want any alerts to appear in your inbox (once a day should suffice, especially if it’s a large company).

Now you’ll see in real time news about the company, such as press releases, news articles, even employee reviews on review sites, etc.

  • If you know the name of the hiring manager, check out his/her LinkedIn profile.

Don’t worry that this could be construed as stalking. After all, you can bet that if you’ve been called in for an interview, the recruiter/hiring manager already has checked out your profile!

If you’re not already a first-level connection, consider asking for one.  (If you’ve already scheduled an interview, the hiring manager should easily accept.)

See if you share any connections and if you know any well, ask them for any insight they might have into the hiring manager’s background, personality, etc.

  • If working with one of our staffing recruiters, ask for insights into the company and hiring manager.

Helpmates’ recruiters will provide you with lots of information regarding the company, the position and the hiring manager before you go on an interview. We’ve worked hard over the 40-plus years we’ve been in business forging great relationships with companies throughout the Orange County and Los Angeles region and we know their needs well. If looking for work, you can rely on us to help you as much as possible. Contact us today.

In Your Job Search, Focus on What You Can Control

Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to tell his players to focus only on those things they could control.

His wisdom applies to your job search: you can’t control how many job interviews you receive but you can control how many people you reach out to. You can’t control whether or not you receive a job offer as a result of one of those interviews, but you can control how well you prepare for your interview, how much research you perform on the company and the hiring manager, how much you practice for the interview, and so on.

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Take a look below for other things you can focus on in your job hunt.

  1. Making sure your resume and cover letter are free from typos, misspellings and grammatical mistakes.

You don’t want to trip up your chances from the get-go, so proof your resume and cover letter for any and all mistakes. If you feel your grammar and spelling skills are sketchy, ask someone you know who is up on spelling and grammar rules to proof your documents.

Another way you can really help your candidacy is to write a different cover letter for each position to which you apply. You also should tweak your resume to showcase the skills and experience you have that best meet the job’s requirements. Yes, this takes more work, but every job is different and your resume/cover letter should “sell” your skills, education and experience in a way that best fits any particular job.

  1. The best positions often go to people who know someone at the company.

Is this “fair”? That’s not the point: this is reality. However, you can control your own network and allow it to help you find a great position. So start asking around (let people know what you’re looking for and the skills you possess). If you see a position you like, check LinkedIn to see if anyone you know has a connection with the employer.

  1. Many people apply for the same position. Competition can be TIGHT!

Don’t let that worry you because as someone who wants to take control of his/her job search, you are going to contact the company (or ask around your contacts) to find the name and contact information of the hiring manager for the position. Then you’re going to contact that person directly. Yes, you are!

There’s a lot you simply can’t control about the job search process, but there’s plenty that you can when it comes to your own efforts. So take as much control as you can and contact potential employers directly, make sure your resume/cover letter is different for each job and has no mistakes at all, and expand your network to help you learn of – and be recommended for –terrific positions.

If your job hunt is taking too long, consider working on some temporary assignments with us here at Helpmates Staffing as you search. Many temporary assignments can – and do – turn into more permanent positions (so you may not need to search anymore)! Take a look at our current job opportunities and then either apply or contact us.

When You Get Caught in a Lie

It happens: you’re feeling great and there’s a ball game you’d love to see playing downtown that afternoon. So you call your boss in the morning, giving the best “I have a bad cold” impersonation you can muster, telling her you’re not feeling well. She buys it and you head off to the game.

But who should you run into at the ballpark but your boss (who took official PTO for the afternoon). She’s not happy and she told you to meet her in her office the next day at 8 a.m. sharp!

Are you toast? Possibly, but not necessarily.

The scenario above actually happened several years ago and the gotta-go-to-the-ballgame employee was fired. But that may not be the case today, as many companies now meld vacation and sick-days into one entity called Paid Time Off (PTO). Employers generally want their workers to take time off for vacations and stay home when they truly are sick. But if you lie about it….

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Most of us are employed at will, which means a company can fire us at any time for any reason. (We also can quit at any time for any reason.) Most employers understand that “things happen,” and pretty much wait for egregious actions (theft) or big mistakes (losing a major client) before using the employed-at-will option and firing an employee.

But you definitely could be fired for lying (such as calling sick when you’re actually well).

However, most lies aren’t serious ones. They tend to be small: you made a relatively minor mistake and you’re trying to cover it up. Chances are you won’t be fired for these, but such a lie will damage your reputation with your manager and affect her trust in you.

So what can you do if you find yourself caught in a lie? Some strategies:

  1. When found out, don’t try to cover it up.

You’d just be continuing the lie and making the consequences when truth does come out even worse for yourself.

  1. Immediately. And sincerely.

As you do so, take full responsibility for your lie. Own it. Say you knew it was wrong and stupid and you deeply regret it. Don’t say it was a small lie, it didn’t affect anything. You can explain why you said it, but don’t try to use that explanation as an excuse: again, own your actions.

  1. Tell your manager you realize she may not trust you as much.

Again, this is part of owning your lie. You must understand that she probably won’t trust you to the same extent going forward and you must address this. Tell your manager you will work hard to rebuild her trust and that you realize this will take some time to do.

  1. Work hard to regain your manager’s trust.

It will take time, but no self-pity allowed. Work harder than you ever have. Unfortunately, you may never regain her trust. If that is the case, after a few months of giving it your all, you may want to start looking elsewhere because chances are good you will miss out on promotions and other opportunities.

When it’s time for you to look for another position in Southern California, make sure you take a look at our current job openings with some of the region’s top employers. If you find one or more opportunities that appeal  to you, apply online or contact the Helpmates office nearest you for more information.

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