Kent Heberling

Researching companies

Posted by Kent Heberling Nov 19, 2012
When applying for jobs, and throughout the interview process, it is absolutely critical that you research the companies you are applying to and interviewing with.  A recruiter from Motorola (and MSOE alum) conducted on-campus interviews last year, and indicated that only 4 of the 12 candidates had done any research on the company.  The 2 who had done the most were the ones who ended up receiving job offers.

Here are five good ways to conduct research on a company.  They come from the following article, where you can simply replace “school” with “company”:
  1. Do Some 'Site-Seeing. The company’s website is a great place to start. Each company puts delicate consideration into how it paints the picture of the organization and the website is its canvas.
  2. Peruse the News. Visit news websites, especially in the company's city or websites devoted to industry news, and enter the name of the company in the website's search tool.
  3. Review the Rankings. This is easier when applying to work in higher education, but Forbes and other reputable entities do rank companies as well.
  4. Become a Social (Media) Butterfly. Before you apply for a job, search through your contacts on social media to determine if someone you already know works or previously worked for the company. They can provide inside information about the position. However, conduct your homework tactfully. No matter how friendly you are with a contact, always ask if he or she is in a position to disclose any information about the position.
  5. Think Over the Turnover. Look at the other open positions at the organization. Are they full-time, part-time, professional, temporary?  This can provide helpful hints about the stability of the institution.
You are all getting (or have gotten) a great technical background.  Employers tell us that MSOE students can go toe-to-toe on a technical basis against any other college graduates in the country.  However, strong technical skills in engineering, business, and nursing will only get you so far in your job search.  Other skills are also extremely important to employers, and these are the ones that will help you stand out from the competition.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers around the country, and found that above all, they’re looking to hire candidates with outstanding communication skills and who are team players. These skills are followed by decision making and problem solving skills, information processing, and the ability to plan and organize work.

The least important candidate skills/qualities on the list are the “ability to create and/or edit written reports” and the “ability to sell or influence others.”

MSOE has a tool (Professional Development Transcript) designed to help students and alumni track and record activities that develop the important interpersonal skills.  More information can be found here:

Following is the list of the employer ratings from the Job Outlook 2013 report:

Employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualities                                             


Weighted   average rating*  

 Ability to verbally   communicate with persons inside and outside the organization


 Ability to work in a team   structure


 Ability to make decisions   and solve problems


 Ability to plan, organize,   and prioritize work


 Ability to obtain and   process information


 Ability to analyze   quantitative data


 Technical knowledge related   to the job


 Proficiency with computer   software programs


 Ability to create and/or   edit written reports


 Ability to sell or   influence others


*5-point scale, where 1=Not at all important; 2=Not very important; 3=Somewhat important; 4=Very important; and 5=Extremely important

Source: Job Outlook 2013, National Association of Colleges and Employers Data for the Job Outlook 2013 survey was collected from July 25, 2012 through September 10, 2012. A total of 244 surveys were returned—a 25.2 percent response rate.

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