Researching Job Opportunities

General researching can help you identify and learn more about prospective employers within your field of interest.

This process will also help you write more insightful cover letters. Additionally, good research skills can help you locate an opening before it is advertised publicly. This is especially useful in a tight job market, when any advantage can make a difference.

Numerous directories available in libraries and bookstores can help you find information about companies and organizations in your area of interest. Most are updated annually. Some of the main directories and publications to review include:

  • Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries, published by Simon & Schuster
  • Directory of Corporate Affiliations, published by National Register Publishing Company
  • Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States, published by Simon & Schuster
  • Guide to American Directories, published by B. Klein Publications
  • Million Dollar Directory, published by Dun & Bradstreet
  • Moody’s Industry Review, published by Moody’s Investors Service
  • Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations, Directors, & Executives, published by Standard & Poor’s Corporation
  • The American Almanac of Jobs and Salaries, published by Avon Books
  • Ward’s Business Directory of Largest U.S. Companies, published by The Gale Group.
  • U.S. government manuals
  • Telephone books
  • Publications by local chamber of commerce offices or metropolitan directories

In addition, hundreds of industry-specific directories contain information relevant to job searches. For more information, ask your public or university librarian. Contact the organization and people listed in these directories via letters, telephone calls, computer e-mail correspondence, attendance at professional organization meetings, or personal visits.

When researching these sources, you’ll want to pay special attention to main topics or areas of interest that will yield helpful information. Job seekers should investigate these points:

Basic Industry Information

  • Historic trends
  • Recent trends
  • Noteworthy companies in the industry

Companies in Your Industry in a Specific Geographic Region

  • Companies that are hiring
  • New business openings
  • Local unemployment rate
  • Other local information, e.g., main industries, employment trends, cost of living, average income, etc.

Company Information

  • History, size, growth rate, founding date, number of employees, annual revenues
  • Products and services
  • Financial history and current status
  • Top management players
  • Company culture
  • Changes in company structures, product lines, or services
  • Company’s website


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