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  1. Business

Check out a company before applying for a job

Published Jul. 15, 2012

How do you find out what it's really like to work at a company before you take the job? Plan on doing a little homework. Experts say the best information comes from people already working in the company you're considering. An honest evaluation from someone on the "inside" will give you the pros and cons and can also update you on the long-term growth opportunities or lack thereof. But what if you don't have access to someone who will or can give you that information? Here are some other sources of information:

Read online employee review sites such as Glassdoor.com and CareerBliss.com. What are employees saying about the firm you're considering? What are the pros and the cons?

"Nice place to work if you are in India."

"Nice environment and cooperative staff."

"Stress, stress, stress and nothing else."

These are a sampling of postings by employees on online company review sites. They give an insight into what it is really like to work in various firms.

Check out the company's website. Look over the homepage and see how they present themselves. Do they do a good job of telling people who they are and what they do? Go to the "About" link. There should be information on the goods and services the company provides, its history, its mission statement and perhaps its top staff.

Next go to the "News" link. Find out the latest information about this firm. New products or services? Awards? Recognition? Long-term plans? Companies usually only focus on the good stuff, but you can determine if their mission and the products they make or the services they offer dovetail with your personal ethics and future plans.

Click on the "Staff" link and get the names of the top players including the head of HR if possible. That person or his or her staff may interview you. Check these people out on LinkedIn to get a feel of their background, experience and training.

Check out their social network pages (if they have one). How do they present themselves to business and general audiences?

Put the company's name into major search engines. What pops up about the firm regarding products and services, employee recruitment and retention, customer satisfaction, financial stability or problems, etc.?

Pick up the latest issue of a few major business publications such as Business Week, The Economist (great for a global view of this company or the industry) and the Wall Street Journal. How is this company depicted? Is this the place for you?

All this information can help you determine if the company you're considering is the right fit for you. It can also help if you interview by allowing you to tailor your answers to match your skills to the skills the company needs. And, you will have better insight on how to position yourself as the best person for the job.

Marie Stempinski is founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business trends and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at sstratcomm@cs.com or through her website, www.howtomotivateemployees.org.