Tips for Graduates

By Rusty Anderson

One of the most important, yet often overlooked, steps for a job seeker to take prior to submitting a job application is researching the organization of interest.

While researching a company or position may not be the most exciting activity, having the knowledge of who an employer is and how the job seeker uniquely fits in the “corporate culture” is essential. Employers expect you to know who they are, what they do and what you have to offer them. Besides, when you are marketing your skills and talents to an organization, you need to know the best way to present yourself, and research can give you the information you need to put your best foot forward in an interview.

The best resource for conducting research is the annual report of the company in which you are interested. Make sure to read the most current copy available. The annual report will almost always include a letter to the shareholders listing accomplishments, current projects and immediate goals. Financial data, including profits, stock prices, reserves or investments, are often published in the annual report.

Job seekers should also contact the target organization’s department of human resources and request a packet of information about the company. These portfolios often include brochures describing the types of positions, training programs, benefits, career paths (succession planning) and an application.

If the annual report is unavailable and the human resources department does not have materials for distribution, the job seeker should request marketing materials from the company. Marketing pamphlets will provide some information about the goods or services provided by the company. This information can be used by the job seeker to develop a presentation on the unique qualifications he or she possesses to market, promote or enhance these goods or services.

Company research using the Internet is encouraged. Websites will often include the annual report, human resources literature and goods or services provided. While using the Internet, be sure to double check the dates, as some sites are not updated on a consistent basis.

Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to research of organizations, but don’t feel like you have to know everything about the company either. Know the history of the organization along with their goods, products or services. Scan professional publications for recent articles pertaining to the organization. Finally, practice creating matches between your credentials and the needs of the organization.


Graduates, download the Career Services Guide (PDF) for helpful information as your pursue your first job.


  • Phone & Video Interview Guidelines (Page 34)
  • The Importance of Online Presence (Page 36)
  • Student to the Professional World (Page 37)
  • Email messages (Page 38)
  • Networking & the Hidden Job Market (Page 40)
  • Conducting a Successful Interview (Page 42)
  • The Importance of Follow-Up (Page 45)
  • Do's and Don'ts of Salary Negotiation (Page 47)