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How to Research Companies Before You Join or Do Business with?

[Best Practice Guide] How to research companies as potential employers? Checklist for evaluating a potential Employer or business partner

Knowing a company is vital if you want to join, work, deal, or partner with them. It gives you insights into whether you and the company are a perfect fit for each other. It also allows you to assess the prospect, benefits, or risks of joining, working, or partnering with a company.

So you must research to know and evaluate a company. You must know what it can offer you and what it cannot. Researching and evaluating will help you go a long way in assessing a company and help you decide whether to take chances or not.

Why should you research a company?

Knowledge is essential, and there are specific things that you can learn if you do your research and evaluation of a company. There are some pitfalls in relying on others as far as a particular company is concerned.

The most obvious is bias. A particular group, individual, or research may be biased for or against a company. If you do your research and evaluation, you can minimize, if not avoid, those biases and have a fair, honest assessment of a company.

You can also have your take regarding a company. Researching deeply and doing your investigation will help you have first-hand knowledge regarding a company. For instance, others may be pleased with a company, but its specifics may not be the one you are looking for. What makes others happy does not necessarily mean it will make you happy too.

Aside from those mentioned, you can have other great benefits if you research and evaluate a company yourself. Here are some of those:

You will know if you want to join a company

If you do research and your evaluation, you will eventually know whether you want to join them. It could be as an investor, as a partner, or as an employee or worker. Your research will show what kind of company or organization they claim to be and whether they are indeed what they are.

For it is not unusual that a company will pitch for themselves to others as capable and worthy. But your research and evaluation will allow you to see through the façade and evaluate the company as they are.

Capabilities and worthiness aside, you will know once you research and evaluate whether you want to join them. A company may be competent and worthy and be what it claims to be. But maybe, it will not give you the benefit that you expect.

Your research and evaluation will allow you to go deeper. And only then will you know whether you want to be a part of it. The company also may be up to the task, but maybe the demands of the company or organization are more than what you can handle.

Your research and evaluation will give you an honest, realistic assessment of whether joining them will benefit you and them. Whether it is worth having a partnership with that company, or is it worth giving a try at all.

Will you want to do business with them?

More than knowing the ins and outs of the company, you might also want to know how they deal with their partners. What is their reputation? Could they be trusted at all? More so if you want to do business with them. To be shortchanged is the last thing in your mind.

In knowing their reputation and dealings with others, you will have insight into what to expect when you deal with them. Does the company measure to your standards? Given their history, could they be relied upon? Or trusted? Can they deliver the services that you want? Is it worth it at all to partner with that company or try their services?

Horror tales about people shortchanged by companies, even reputable ones, abound. Despite what most advertisements say, a brand or a name is not a sure thing. Not a few people got disappointed by relying on names and recall alone instead of doing some research and evaluation.

Research and evaluation could go a long way, from having excellent dealing in doing business to being satisfied with the services they offer. If you are willing to shell out money and waste time and effort, you must also research and evaluate. It ensures that everything is in order and that you will get what you bargained for.

Do you want to hire an executive of personnel from them?

If you want to have capable people who can deliver the goods, you examine their background, capabilities, skill, and talent. You review their track record and employment record and assess whether a particular person is suitable and fit for the job. You get to hire people on the strength of what they bring to the table.

And part of reviewing their track record is reviewing past companies they once worked for. A particular candidate with solid credentials will include a solid background of previous work and companies. It would be a great measure of competence if a person once worked on a company with an excellent reputation.

Most probably, great companies, corporations, and organizations also have a deep pool of skill and talent. They also have reputable people working and people who can be relied upon in whatever task or jobs they may be assigned. By doing research, you will know which companies have a great pool of reserves that you can tap for staffing.

It is typically true of executives and leaders. Some organizations are known to train top executives. There are also companies known to produce the best executives and managerial leaders in the country. It would help to know those organizations and companies and tap the leaders they have produced.

It is good to partner with those organizations, mainly if your partnership includes transferring technology, know-how, and even workforce. You have to know which company can provide you the right personnel to help you run your affairs.

Some companies have an excellent reputation for financing and profit, but human development and human resources are different. Some companies hire and subcontract personnel from other companies and organizations.

If you do research and evaluate them properly, you can benefit by knowing which organization has good personnel to do your bidding. You can make arrangements to hire personnel from them or use the personnel from those organizations to do your bidding.

Do you want to volunteer?

Finally, you may not be a businessman, an investor, or one searching for a job or employment. You may be a volunteer who wants to serve society and the community. You may have expertise but not the right connections to pursue your advocacy. You want to use your expertise to help others, and you want to be in an organization to maximize your efforts further.

It would be best to be in an organization that best employs your talent, skill, expertise, and knowledge. But you have to know that organization. Researching organizations will help you find the right, suitable one. Every organization and company has its expertise, as well as its niche. Being in one that suits you will make you more productive in your efforts and volunteer work.

Those are the benefits of researching and evaluating a company, organization, or corporation. Whatever your status in life, there are some tangible benefits if you do the extra work in taking a long, hard look at a specific organization or company.

How to research a company

Here are some practical, easy steps to research a company, organization, or corporation:

Website

Nowadays, all organizations use the internet and social media to advertise, look for investors, partner with others, and hire people. Most have an internet, online presence, readily available for those who want to take a look. Primarily included in a company’s website are the credentials, the leaders, the track record, and accomplishments.

Since it is easily accessible, you can start and look at the website of a particular company you have in mind. Even at first glance, you will know what to expect from them. It will also give you insights into whether that company or organization suits you, your purpose, or your advocacy.

Vision, mission, language use

In looking at the company website, try to avail of their vision and mission statement. You can tell by reading them whether what you have in mind is in tune with their vision and mission. You can also evaluate whether their purpose suits your own. You can then decide whether there is a possibility of working, partnering, investing, or doing volunteer work for them.

Pay attention too to the way they craft their vision and mission. Specifically, look at how a company or organization uses and deploys language. Sometimes, though not all, the use of language already betrays a particular bias, advocacy, or even political leaning of a particular organization.

Vision and mission statements must always be politically correct and inclusive. It must promote not only the welfare of some but of everyone in the community. Look for some red flags, inappropriate statements, and politically incorrect ones. If they have that, the working environment might be toxic and intolerable; you do not want that.

Where does the company post their jobs?

Hiring is one of the most important functions for an organization to grow and build culture. How they hire usually demonstrates the values of the organization.

Do they hire an on a diversity and inclusion job site?

Do they include inclusive languages?

Do they provide accommodations in the hiring process?

Do they mention that they are an equal opportunity employer?

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Check Company reviews available

Company reviews

Most of the time, companies and organizations that have an online presence include feedback and comment sections on their websites. You can look at those sections to know the usual complaints people have regarding them.

If a usual complaint always crops up, it is a sign of its weakness regarding that area. Based on that, you can assess and evaluate. You can consider it if the complaint does not bother you and has nothing to do with the offer. After all, no company is ever perfect, and there are complaints now and then regarding some issues.

There is also the possibility that they are looking for someone to fix that problem. Hence they may hire you precisely for that reason.

Customer reviews and partner reviews

Aside from the feedback section, there are also customer and partner reviews available online. Famous and high-profile companies have more customer reviews and partner reviews. Try to scour those reviews and find relevant information.

Here we must offer a caveat. Most customer reviews are anonymous, and some may be time-bound or location-bound. Problems raised by customers but solved already remain on the internet. So be careful as you read them.

Partner reviews are more reliable. They are done by those who worked with a company or organization before and are usually more transparent than customer reviews. It would be best if you can avail of partner reviews for a better assessment and evaluation.

Company and Organization Recognition

People and institutions recognize companies who are at the top of their game. It is a better gauge of how a company performs and what you can expect of them. 

Employer certifications and Diversity Workplace Recognitions

How well they treat their employees as a whole can be ascertained by recognition. Institutions and organizations give employee certifications to companies, with specific areas relating to inclusivity, diversity, openness, and a safe environment for all its workers. An example in the diversity space is the DEI workplace Certification to recognize DEI inclusive employers.

Top DEI Employer Certification

The recognitions will speak for themselves.  Typically, they are given by experts in labor and rights issues and those who fight for workers, marginalized, excluded, and discriminated people.

Overall, to have certifications coming from peers, respected institutions, and organizations tells a lot about the company’s overall commitment to excellence and social justice. Be on the lookout for those things.

Salary reviews

Some sites are reviewing how particular companies give salaries and other benefits to their employees. Salaries, recognition and reward system, and benefits are indicators of how a company’s success impacts its employees. A company that distributes rewards equitably and gives a fair share to its employees is bound to give the same to you.

If you want to work with them, it would be best to know how they pay their employees. Structures and systems of reward distribution, as well as payment, differ per company. The company may be fair, but it may not be the reward package that you are looking for or wanting for yourself. Doing research will allow you to know what the company offers and evaluate what is best for you.

Social media

Some information regarding certain companies is also available on social media. Some companies even have a social media account to give ready, accessible information to the public. Some use social media accounts to deal with customers, prospective clients, and investors.

Discourse in social media is usually democratic and unregulated. A lot of information, relevant or otherwise, is provided by a lot of people. You must filter them out and look for the relevant ones.

The advantage of social media is that some information not available through the usual channels may be available through it. You can also instantly communicate with other people and ask them directly about relevant information regarding a company or organization.

News about companies and executives

Some companies and their executives are in the news, either for the good or the bad. Is a company or its executives hugging the headlines because of their achievement? Or are they in the news for all the wrong reasons? Scandals about companies and their executives due to racism, discrimination, harassment, and maltreatment of employees are always a hot topic.

The beauty of the present age is that information is easy to access and verify. You can always do your research and evaluation about companies that have some issues facing at the moment. Be wary of those that have a bad reputation. In any case, if you are diligent enough, you will know the truth about specific issues facing a company.

Look for some employee references

The list of people who have worked with a particular company, its current roster, and its list of leaders and executives, will tell you a lot. Does the list include people of excellent reputations? Do they include those that belong to the minorities, underprivileged, or protected classes?

Looking at their roster, past and present, you will know whether they are inclusive and promote a working environment that is healthy or toxic.

Is it publicly listed?

You can also check if the company is publicly listed, aside from the usual references available online and in the news. If it is, then there might be other information that might be available to you. You can assess its finances, assets, stocks, and how it is going the past couple of months or even years. Use it then for further evaluation of a company, organization, or corporation.

Final tip: Research the competitors

No company has a monopoly on a particular product or service. They have competitors for sure. Research their competitors too, and compare the company you are researching and evaluating to the competitors.

You can also look for some snippets of information that may emanate from the competitors. For sure, they did research and evaluation about the company too. Try to access it if possible. They may contain some valuable information not available through the other channels, which may have escaped your attention.

How to Evaluate a Company

to do business with
as potential job employer
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How to Evaluate a potential Employer?

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About the author

Susanne Ricee

Susanne Ricee is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and Researcher at Diversity for Social Impact. Sue brings over 15 years of HR and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion consultation experience.
Sue's previous experience includes Microsoft, Target, and Kraft. Sue is also the manager of Diversity Leadership Directory