The voice on the phone said, “Be here at 10:00 sharp and bring a fresh resume! I’ll see you then.” I hung up the phone and did a little touchdown dance. “Yes!!!” I had just scored an interview with one of the premier companies in my segment of the aviation industry in Houston. The problem was I didn’t know anything about them except what I had heard from friends and that it was supposed to be a great place to work. I decided to head over to the library to do a little homework.
A lot of people make the mistake of putting tons of effort into getting the call for an interview but then they don’t follow through so they’re not prepared when they actually get one. Smart job seekers walk into the interview knowing what they can offer the prospective employer and what they may expect in return. Remember, starting a new job is like starting a new relationship, so it is really important to find a compatible partner. A little research before- hand will go a long way to answering your questions and preparing you to answer theirs. Here are a few tips about the “how, where and what’s” of that research.
The first thing you should do is find out if someone you know works there or used to work there. This is something you should already know by now, but if not, there is still time. LinkedIn is fairly new but when it comes to networking for employment purposes, I have yet to find a better resource. You can find out very quickly whether anyone you know has worked at your targeted company. Another place to check is Glass Door. They have reviews of the company by previous and current employees. You can find out a lot right there. After checking with your friends, the next stop is the World Wide Web.
When you start looking on the internet you’ll find scores of articles about how to research a prospective employer. The problem is they are all targeted to industries that consist of large publicly traded companies. Most companies in the aviation industry are small businesses (until you get to the airlines). The majority of them are privately owned. They do not post their quarterly earnings or other business information like public firms must so you will just have to be a little more resourceful. The first place that most people start with is the corporate website of the target company.
Right away read the “About Us” page as well as the product and services description. Here are a few things you should try to find out. What is the company’s mission statement? Many times it will be posted on their website. This can give you the big picture of what the upper management of the company is trying to accomplish. If you can help them, they will consider you valuable. It falls on your shoulders to prove to them that you have the skills, experience and desire to help them. Are they an established company or an upstart targeting growth? Newly formed businesses may be risky but they can also offer explosive growth and an opportunity for you to grow with them. Do they view training as an investment or an expense?
What is the company policy concerning safety? If you are a pilot or someone working in or around airplanes or other heavy equipment does the management follow best practices to protect their employees from injury and company from loss? Have they been audited by a third party company? What were the results of the audits?
Do they belong to associations that are highly regarded in the industry? If they are not involved are they stagnating? This could signal a company that is possibly in decline. There is a lot of information to be gathered from the web site but don’t stop there. Are there forums about industry jobs in your city. Try Googling “ Forums+Aviation Jobs”. See if there is any information on the forums. Do the same thing with blogs. Try switching the phrase you use. For instance try “Blogs+A&P Mechanic Jobs” or whatever other keywords that might pertain to your job search.
There must be a thousand job boards listing jobs in the aviation and aerospace industries. And if that’s not enough for you here are a few other websites that you might try:
Also check your city’s new outlets and see if there are stories or articles about the company on their web sites or in their archives.
Last but not least run over to the local library and see if you can find anything there. Your librarian is a wealth of knowledge concerning where to look for the information that you are trying to find. If you are trying to get on with a large publicly traded company like United or Southwest, the library is a great place to do your research. Try books like Value Line and Morning Star for financials.
Finally, if you are able to go early so that you can sit and watch the goings on, you can observe first hand, the interactions and demeanor of the people you may be invited to work with. Be sure to come up with a few thoughtful questions to ask once the interview begins. Asking intelligent, well thought out questions is a sure way to signal your interest in becoming a part of their team.
The following day I arrived at the office 30 minutes early. I told the receptionist that I had left home early to make sure I didn’t get caught in traffic and I would be happy to wait. I then situated myself to watch and listen as people interacted with the receptionist and among themselves. I picked up a couple of things that I would work into my conversation later in the interview. At the predetermined time the interviewing manager ushered me into her office and we got started. You can be sure that when she asked me the question, “What do you know about our company?” I had a well prepared answer and she could see that I was interested, thoughtful and prepared.