In general, I tell people that it never hurts to apply for a job, and when in doubt, go ahead and apply for a position (unless, of course, you meet less than about 75% of the qualifications). In real life, though, people don’t have time to apply to each position they see. To prioritize whether to apply, there are certain websites I direct people to to help research the companies/organizations they are applying to. Besides the most obvious sites like google and Linkedin, here are some of them:
Glassdoor.com provides free, anonymous reviews of thousands of companies, including salaries, reviews of the company culture, reviews of the top executive etc. It is hands-down my favorite resource for getting the inside scoop on a company. There are many imitators, but I don’t know of any that come close in terms of coverage and scope.
Guidestar.org is a site that houses the 990 tax returns of the great majority of nonprofit organizations (except those that are religious, are private trusts, or are too small to be required to file). What can you glean from a 990? For one thing, the salaries of the top executives. I recently downloaded the 990 of the Gates Foundation and saw the exact amounts they spend on contractors, as well as who they’re giving grants to– excellent info if you want to work there, or want to know who they’re giving to. You can also learn about the financial health of the organization, and much more.
Hoovers.com is a pay site where you can get company information on most for-profit companies as well as many nonprofits and government agencies. I get free access as a staff member of the University of Washington library. I would also suggest any job seeker to check out their public library for access to this type of resource.
The Foundation Center Library is a private library which is open to the public, and which houses data on most philanthropies, foundations, and corporate giving programs. If you want a job in a foundation, or are just doing prospect research, this database is fantastic for gathering information.
ReferenceUSA is an excellent site for finding out which organizations are in your zip code, and researching target employers by SIC code. You can easily download data on hundreds of organizations in your field to build a list of target companies and organizations in your area.
National Center for Charitable Statistics also has nonprofit 990 tax returns online, but also has the added value that you can do a search by mission area code, state etc., and generate a list of the largest nonprofits in a particular mission area and geographic area, sorted by revenue. Another great site for creating a target list of organizations.
USA.gov is a good resource for finding government agencies, and has links to all 300+ federal agencies so you can learn about their various missions. In addition, FedScope is a great resource for finding the largest federal agencies in your state, by employment number.
Lexis-Nexis is another pay site that I get for free as a UW staff member, but which provides data on when a particular company or organization has been mentioned in the news media or blogs. For some reason, it is much better than Google news as a search site. It’s very helpful for finding out what people are saying about an organization.
When considering relocation, a number of sites are also good for determining how far your paycheck will go in a new city. Variables like the different tax rates in different states, different costs of living etc., can make a huge difference. To calculate what your new paycheck will look like in a new city, plug in all your numbers into paycheckcity.com. To estimate the differences in cost of living, try Best Places, CNNMoney, or Salary.com.
What are your favorite job search research resources?