Skip to main content
Applied Sciences
Co-op Coordinator
SFU Staff

empty
Research
Your post-secondary institution's library will also contain many resources, and they are selected and managed based on the program and research specialties at your institution.

This article was originally published on the "Association for Co-operative Education" blog on January 23, 2015.

Job searching? Starting out in an industry? Switching careers? Exploring your options? There are many reasons we need to do company and industry research in our professional lives. You may need these skills when exploring new industries or fields, creating a job application or preparing for an interview.

So how do we do effective research? There is a wealth of information online, but this can get overwhelming. The key is to have strategies to help you find what you are looking for. Here are some top tips and sites that can assist you:

1. Company Website: 

If you know what company you’re looking for, start here. This is the public online face of the company. Some will be detailed, others will only contain minimal information. But you can often find details about their products/services, information about the organization structure and management, its history, and employment-related information. But be aware that this is only a layer of what you can find out about the company. They only tell you what they want you to know!

2. Google (or another good search engine):

One of our students recently called Google "the oracle" during a presentation. It knows so much! But when you search a company name online, you will likely get a large amount of results, so be strategic about how you search. Aside from the company website, what else comes up in the search? Is there recent press coverage? Did the company win an award? Were they represented at an event or conference?

As you identify more of what you are looking for, use your search terms to narrow down the results. For example, enter the company name and city, the name of a specific product, or names of management or team members you want to learn more about.

3. LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is undoubtedly an effective job search tool, for company research and otherwise. Use it to follow companies, find out who works for them, and what networks, associations, and events they're connected to. A valuable LinkedIn connection should be someone you know, so use your research to decide how best to make that connection.

4. Libraries:

Libraries are your best friend, and not just when you’re a post-secondary student. As an example, the Vancouver Public Library contains a wealth of resources in their Business & Economics division and online through their electronic resources. You can find reference guides, books, and links about specific industries, or look at general industry and sector research guides to help steer your search. A quick website search helped me find a listing of High Technology Industry Directories in British Columbia.

Your post-secondary institution's library will also contain many resources, and they are selected and managed based on the program and research specialties at your institution. Most libraries also have access to annual reports for public companies, and this can give you insightful information about any specific companies you are looking at. Be sure to take full advantage of the expertise of the librarians. They are trained to help you find what you are looking for, and these days are online research experts.

5. Industry Associations:

Not all research can be done online! Find out what industry associations exist in your field, whether locally, provincially, or internationally, and get involved. The website may contain a wealth of useful resources and information, but volunteering, attending events, and presenting at conferences can help you expand your network and build your reputation.

6. Company Rating Sites:

There are some websites that exist to help job seekers do their research. For example, Glassdoor provides information and reviews about companies, as well as job postings, salary and interview information. But beware of the information you receive on these sites, as it is open source (though driven by community guidelines). What you are reading may be purely individual opinion and you don’t know the details of their experience with the company. These sites provide advice, not facts. As with all advice you get from individuals, take it with a grain of salt, and use it to complement or direct your research.

Co-op Coordinator
SFU Staff

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

tower in ottawa
Increasing Your Chances of Working for the Government

With the stability and the opportunities that a government position provides, it’s not surprising that a lot of students are interested with working for the government. The What Can I Do in Government session gave students an opportunity to network with a panel consisting of alumni, current students and managers who are experienced in working for the public sector. Read on for some insights and tips that the panelists provided!

a portrait image of a woman smiling and looking into a distance
Self Discovery

In the changing labour market there are increased opportunities for seeking your own Co-op placement through a Self-Directed Work Search. In this 3 steps blog series by our career advisor Heather Williams, learn about how to successfully conduct self-directed work search from self-discovering to landing an informational interview.

You Might Like These... Seeking

person typing on laptop which is on white round table
The Perfect Cover Letter That Will Get You Hired

I can write a solid resume, interview well, and make sure that my online presence is on point. The one thing that’s always been a struggle? The dreaded cover letter. Continue reading as I highlight some of my top tips to selling yourself and securing that interview.

Image of Author. She is smiling at the camera and is wearing a white shirt and black coat.
Tackling the Application Process in the Federal Public Sector

Are you in the process of applying to a federal government co-op position but are unsure of what to expect or whether you’re on the right track? Check out these tips that Christie, a fourth year Criminology co-op student, has to offer after dedicating four of her work terms to various agencies within the federal public sector.

People pointing at a computer screen
Five Essential Skills for CMNS Co-ops

Are you wondering what skills you might need for a job in CMNS? Co-op student Amy unpacks five essential skills for your future CMNS career you might want to develop.