Competitive Intelligence for Your Career
"Competitive Intelligence for Your Career
Know What to Say in Your Job Interviews
by Sacha Cohen
When you walk into an interview, are you prepared? I mean really prepared? You may know how to answer questions about your previous employment or what skills you have to offer, but that's not enough.
Are you prepared to talk intelligently about the company's philosophy and strategy? Do you know how the company started? What about its future goals and plans? Are you knowledgeable about the organization's values and culture? Is it privately or publicly held?
If the answer to these questions is "no," you're at a disadvantage, because you only have half of the equation.
Employers expect qualified candidates to know about the industry as a whole, to be able to discuss market trends and to have a grasp of the big picture. That's where competitive intelligence comes in. Think of it as icing on the cake, that something extra that could push you to the top of the candidate pool.
When it comes to gathering competitive intelligence, the Internet is your best friend. It's far-reaching, fast and, for the most part, free. You've got company data and background at your fingertips, newswires with the most up-to-date industry analysis and trends and even access to profiles of the company's key personnel.
For job seekers in technology fields, digging up information about your dream company is even easier. There are sites dedicated exclusively to news about technology companies, email lists that discuss the pros and cons of working at different organizations, and extensive databases that you can mine for data.
So before you set foot in a potential employer's office, take a few hours to learn as much as you can about the organization. Here are some of the best resources for building competitive intelligence.
Quick and Dirty (Resources for Gathering Company Snapshots)
- Corporate Information - A search engine on this site helps you locate information about publicly traded, privately held and international companies. A quick search for "Amazon" netted links to a Red Herring article about Amazon.com, public filings, Hoover's industry snapshot, IPO Central's profile of Amazon.com and more.
- Hoover's Online - Check out Hoover's Industry Zones, which target industry sectors such as computer hardware, telecommunications and software. Or delve into Industry Snapshots: a bird's-eye view of the business world. A members-only area provides more robust search tools for pinpointing the exact criteria you're after.
The Heart of the Matter (In-Depth News and Reports)
- Business Wire - Here you can find industry and company-specific news as well as corporate profiles. Clicking on the "Andromedia" profile immediately brings up the company's address, phone number, URL and mission statement.
- Wired News - Looking for the latest tech headlines and cutting-edge reports on IPOs, e-commerce and infrastructure? This is the place to go.
- TechWeb - All the technology news that's fit to print, including top news stories and headlines.
The Big Picture (Research and Analysis)
- Gartner - In-depth reports on everything from DSL to Database management.
- Forrester Research - Research from Forrester concentrates on technology's impact on business with a specific emphasis on Internet commerce. Much of the research on this site is available to clients only.
- Jupiter - Leading-edge research on digital commerce, Web development strategy and more. For the most part, only samples are available to the public."
<Note from JobFairy.com: Don't forget cnet.com and f'dcompany.com. Especially the latter - check to see what's been written about your company or the one at which you are going to interview. Could be informative.>