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How to Do Job Position Research

Research-magnifying-glass

When you apply for a job, especially your dream position, have you asked yourself, “Do I really understand this position?” We mean, ‘understanding’, instead of ‘knowing’. It is much more than just reading the job description. In order to do this, you have to research the position properly.

Why?

First let’s look at why you should spend time and energy on the position research.

  1. Decide whether you should apply

Without saying you have to know what the position is about in order to decide whether you should apply for it. If it does not fit you, it is a waste of time for you to work on the application. Sometimes the position may have a tempting title, but if you look at the job contents deeper, you may find out it is totally differently from what you thought. For instance, business analyst is quite a common job title, with the possibility of meaning anything. It may require certain technical skills like programming, or it may be completely commercial.

At the same time, you of course need to make sure that your profile suit the job requirements. Don’t be scared away if you can’t fit 100%. The employer always wants to put their dream candidate in the job description. In reality, it is highly possible that nobody can be that ideal. Sometimes if you can meet 50% of the requirements, you can already go for it!

  1. Tailor your CV and Cover Letter

We bet you are not goanna prepare one version of CV and Cover Letter to all positions. For each job application, it is strongly recommended that you have a tailor-made CV and Cover Letter, which can significantly increase your chance of getting to the next selection round. For example, if you apply for a graduate trainee program requiring strong leadership and communication skills, you’d better focus more on the relevant experience in your application documents, rather on your technical expertise.

  1. Prepare your interview

Similarly, understanding the position can help you prepare your interview as well. First you can possibly prepare some good examples that meet the major position requirements, and try to share them during the interview. Secondly, showing that you are familiar of what the role is doing and even have some ideas about how to improve is always a bonus point. Last, it would be much easier to ask some valid questions after you have a decent understanding of this position.

What to look for?

In a simplistic view, two main areas you have to search for, Job contents and requirements.

1. Job contents. Basically it means the background and tasks of the position, including:

  • Responsibilities: the scope of the position and what the role is supposed to do
  • Organisational context (esp. for big companies): such as what department, function, and region this position is at. This can make huge difference. For example, a finance analyst role supporting a local manufacturing site is something else compared to the finance analyst at the global team
  • Stakeholders: who are the parties the role works with or has an interest at.
  • Travel: the frequency and amount of travel expected for this role
  • Compensation: the salary range and other benefits of the position

2. Requirements

  • Education: what you study and minimum degree - HBO, University Bachelor, Master, or PhD.
  • Experience: how many years of (relevant) experience required
  • Hard Skills: do you have to know certain software or programing languages? Do you need to have any certificates?
  • Soft skills: does the position require strong communication skills, team work, self-initiation, leaderships, etc.

One more thing you need to pay attention is the order of items they put in the job description.  Normally the higher they put in the job description, the

How?

  1. Job description

This is the most straightforward way. Please read the job description carefully, and even between the lines.

  1. Company website

The company website is a good source to know more about the company culture, department information and organizational context. For example, if you apply for a supply chain analyst role, why not have a look at the official page that introduces the supply chain function of the company.

  1. LinkedIn

Make us of LinkedIn. Why? Sometimes the job description may not provide complete information about the position, out of various reasons.  Don’t feel helpless. You can check the LinkedIn profiles of those people who are at a similar position in the same company / similar companies. Some of them must have own ways of describing what they do in their roles, in a normally understandable way. This could be a useful source.

  1. Similar positions

Another way is to check the job description of similar positions at other companies in relevant industry / at relevant size. Especially for big multinational companies, they possibly have very similar roles. You can definitely learn more about the role from each other.

  1. Contact people

Don’t forget the most important source – People!! You can read a lot, from different online sources. However, what is better compared to know some key information from insiders directly. You just need to be more proactive. Call the company HR, talk to your friends or friends’ friends, or connect to unknown people via LinkedIn, who are from the same company / industry. You will be surprised how willing people would like to share their experience.

To sum up, you can create additional chance by putting more efforts on position research, which gets you information on job contents and requirements. Try to use whatever ways to gather more information. In these days, information is the king.

 

The tips for an ideal cover letter are based on our professional career coaches from HoiTalent 10+ years collective experience as career consultants in Europe as well as literature. However please recognize that different industry, company or even HR might have different selecting criteria and preferences.