And you thought you were done with homework…

Before sending out resumes, going to career fairs, or contacting potential employers, do your homework. The majority of complaints we hear from employers stem from students’ lack of basic knowledge about the company and the services it provides. Nothing brings the conversation to a halt like silence in response to being asked, “What do you know about our company?” If you can’t take the time to do some basic investigating, why should the employer take the time to talk to you? To prevent awkward situations like this from happening to you, arm yourself with an arsenal of research on the company’s mission, values, services, and clientele. Along with valuable information that (if used wisely) can help you tailor your resume to target the company’s specific needs, possessing just a little bit of extra knowledge can give you a big leg up on the competition.

Waiting until the end of an interview to begin gathering company information is too late. Most basic company information is available with some quick and easy digging, and with the internet on your side, you can uncover almost anything. To make a short list of potential employers, sites such as Wetfeet and CareerShift (available to Auburn students and Alumni here) are great resources equipped with thousands of company profile snapshots. Use these sites to gain a basic understanding of what the company does and who they employ along with general contact information. From there you can visit specific company websites that interest you most and gather more detailed information such as mission statements, values, and company history. With the facts and figures gained through research, you are now ready to customize your resume and begin making important contacts.
  1. Identify common strengths and values: Highlight ways in which you will fit the company and show employers how you will contribute to their bottom line.
  2. Understand what services/products the company provides: Knowing exactly what products the company provides its clientele and specific services performed will help you clearly express your relevant skills and abilities.
  3. Don’t exaggerate: Be authentic and honest. If the employer values attention to detail and you routinely overlook spelling and grammatical errors in your essays and emails, you may not want to extol your deep devotion to details.

So, as you prepare for your job search or the next Career Services Expo (hint hint: September 2009), check out the list of employers attending ( and do your homework. It just might be the difference between nabbing your dream job or internship and remaining unemployed.

By Meaghan Lee

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