Job Search Tools - The Company Profile TXT

Transcript for "Job Search Tools - The Company Profile" episode.

text/plain job-search-tools-the-company-profile.txt — 14 KB

File contents

Thank you for tuning into our second podcast series featuring Smeal Alumni Career Services coaches supporting lifelong learning and business career development for alumni and friends of the Smeal College of Business. This series showcases the expertise of our career coaches as leaders and developing resources and services for strategizing careers. 

Follow our next three episodes, releasing in mid-June, July, and August. Then on September 11th at noon, Eastern daylight savings time, tune in for now the authentic interview, advice from Smeal Alumni Career coaches. Like the podcast episode, Smeal Lifelong Learning webinars are free. 

I am your host, Cindy Satterfield, senior program manager for Smith Alumni Career Services. And I'm very excited to be working with my colleagues on these episodes. Today, I'm talking with Doreen Glenning, our remote career coach based in Boston. 

If you're an alarm living in the Boston area, please reach out and connect with Doreen on LinkedIn. With over 25 years of business experience at Corning, Doreen is a high impact business generalist experienced in leading teams through operational challenges. 

Welcome, Doreen. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience? We are so lucky to have a career coach with a working knowledge of the business community. 

Thanks, Cindy. I'm really pleased to be here today. I've been with Smeal for almost two and 1/2 years here in Career Services. Prior to that, I worked for Corning Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company, namely in commercial and human resources roles. I specifically worked in recruiting for startup divisions in the United States and Asia. I started my career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in corporate taxation. 

Great. Moving forward, what made you choose the topic of company profiling today? 

There are really many ways to prepare for an interview. But I find that creating a company profile is the most organized way to look and learn about a company's competencies, their histories, their financials and culture. It also looks really impressive when you have this tool with you at your interview. 

We created a sample based on a Forbes article entitled, "The Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company-- Free Interview." And secondly, it helps you formulate your questions for when the interviewers ask, do you have any questions for me. That you can formulate more educated and more interesting questions if you know more about the company. 

What tools should job seekers use to profile companies, and what is the cost? 

The primary tool to profile a company is the company's website-- investor relations page. And specifically, additional tools include the,, Google Finance, Investopedia, and LinkedIn. And in general, all of these sites are no charge. 

Well, you really can't beat free resources in this day and age. 


So can you walk us through an example? 

Sure. Many of the alumni that I work with are very interested in Amazon. Fortunately, Amazon has a rigorous investor relations page, including their annual report, their quarterly report, and a really great frequently asked questions page. 

They also have a good about us section where you can learn more about their latest products and projects. Then after I look at that, I tend to look at the press releases section of websites where I learned about their wind farm investments, which is not something I would have related to Amazon. We have a really nice sample profile to share with alumni to help get them started. 

Oh great. So alumni can email us at to get that. And I've seen it, and it's very helpful. 

All right, why is it important to look at investor relations and the company's annual report? 

It's important to know how a company is addressing its shareholders, what risk factors are being dealt with, and how a company's annual sales have been recorded. It's good to know-- is this company growing? What products are fueling that growth? And those are both great questions to have and to ask for in the interview. 

When considering working for a company, you usually want to learn about their culture. Can you find this information on their website? 

Yes. It's good to know what a company really stands for, and that's normally shown in their mission statement, first of all. And it's good to know that they've taken the time to identify what they stand for from a strategic viewpoint. It's also good to make sure that a company's values match your own before you choose to spend your valuable career time with an employer. 

So this is two related questions. First, why is it important to know what makes a company special or different from competitors when heading into an interview? And where can we find this information? 

Sure. Understanding your competitors is one of the most fundamental skills a business person can possess. It's equally important to know your potential employer's value proposition in the market and what they bring to the market. is an excellent place to research competitors for larger companies-- and it's free. For smaller companies, a well-worded Google search can usually get you the results that you need. 

For job seekers looking for international experience, how do we find out about a company's global picture? 

I think for people who are interested in an international experience in their career, it's good to take a look at the company's worldwide locations page, and also their affiliated companies page. And those are typically found somewhere close to the home page on their website just so that you understand what locations might be made available to you as you progress in your career. 

So if we are going to take the time to interview with a company, we want to make sure our careers can thrive. How can you check on a company's financial health? One way to judge a company's financial health is looking at their stock performance. And a financial indicator called market cap, which can both be found using Google Finance, Crunch Base, or by typing in Google Finance, and then adding the stock's name. 

Market cap is I'm sure something a lot of our alumni learned about while they were in school. It's calculated by multiplying a company's shares outstanding by their current market price of one share. The investment community uses this figure to determine a company's size, as opposed to using sales or total assets figures. So it's a very, very good indicator of how strong a company's financial health is. 

In your opinion, is it important to know what a company is investing in going into an interview? 

Yes, I think it's very important. And most people don't take that extra step forward. If you can intelligently ask questions about recent investments which you can find more information about on, your strategic vision will look much more impressive. And it's also a good area for formulating additional questions for your interview. 

Everybody's on social media these days. How do you feel about checking out a company's social media sites? 

I think social media platforms serve as a window into what information does a company choose to share with the public. So I think it's a great place-- and it's free-- to check out social media. You should also make note of positive developments to possibly talk about in your interview. 

Companies tend to put their really exciting news on social media first. So that would be a great thing to bring into the interview and learn more about these recent developments. 

So a little bit off topic, but is it a good idea to brush up your social media sites before you go into the interview? Do you think companies check you out on social media? 

Absolutely. And that is an easy fix for so many people is to make sure that, in particular, their LinkedIn looks as rigorous as it can in terms of having a lot of detail about the jobs that you do, make sure that your picture is appropriate and is of you smiling and appropriately dressed and looking very friendly. So, yes, I think people definitely use LinkedIn, in particular. 

Do you feel it's also helpful to follow employees of the company on social media? And is there any way you can go about locating them? 

Yes, and Penn Staters have a very distinct advantage because we have hundreds of thousands of alumni on LinkedIn right now. It's really impressive. So social media, especially LinkedIn, is a gift to someone preparing for an interview. I've found that Penn Staters are especially helpful to fellow Penn Staters. 

If you are not already doing so, please follow Penn State University on LinkedIn. On the lower left, there's a box that includes the term alumni. When you click on that box, a second search box appears that says, Search alumni by title, keyword, or company. And what I do a lot is type in the name of the company and see who is working there from Penn State. 

That is a really great resource, and I use it every day as well. And I'm always surprised at how many people don't know about it, so thanks for bringing that up. 


How can talking to other employees be beneficial to you in an interview? 

Other employees, particularly alumni, can tell you about the format of the interview, the interview that they had and how it went, tell you about the culture of a company. You can ask what I call more personal questions about what is it really like to work for this company, things like work/life balance and diversity and other questions that you may not be able to get a good answer to from someone else. 

You want what we call an informational interview. What are the best practices for reaching out? 

After you've done the search results that I had talked about a couple of minutes ago, send a brief polite message to an alumnus through LinkedIn. I usually try to pick people that work in my area of interest. So if you are a controller, you may want to pick someone that works in the finance function, if they're available, or maybe someone who graduated the same year as you. 

Ask if you can connect over email or phone just to ask a few questions regarding their employer. And please try to be brief with the alumnus and be prepared with your questions. And most of the time, I would say people do say, yes, you can contact me, here's my phone number, here's my email address. After you've had that conversation, be sure to follow up with a thank you note on email or LinkedIn to thank people for their time and for sharing information. 

That's wonderful. I am too, I'm always impressed with alumni that are so willing to help each other. It's really a great network to be a part of, which I'm sure you'll agree. 

I do. 

So here's an important question. How do we look for topics to avoid in an interview, ones that can really just cost you from getting that job offer? is a very helpful site for interview preparation. And again, it's free. For instance, I was once helping a client prepare for an interview at a large company. And several people who had previously interviewed that company posted comments warning against asking about work/life balance. So that was good information for him to know. 

But probably even more importantly, it was a warning for someone looking for a more balanced career. So can give you a very good inside look inside of a company, both in their interviewing and in their culture. 

Yeah, that's definitely important if you're someone with a young family and work/life balance might be really important to you. 


Well, Doreen, you have all this information now, you've done all this great research. So how do we take this and use it to take in with us during the actual interview? 

It's important to compile this information in a way that looks professional. So I find that PowerPoint is the best tool for organizing a lot of information, and especially your questions for the interview. So we have a sample template that we can share with you. But it's very important to make sure that all of your questions is in that PowerPoint template in a way that you can take notes and ask follow-up questions and just be very organized looking with a very modern business tool. 

So you and I have talked quite a bit. And I believe that you mentioned that somebody you were coaching, the interviewer actually asked him what he had and showed it to him. 

Absolutely. And that's happened several times for my clients because the person had it in front of him and he was reading off of it. And it was very impressive to the interviewer to see that someone took that much time to prepare and prepare in such a thorough way. 

It really shows that you have an interest and you're invested in the company. 

Well, you have so much experience coaching clients and you do such a fantastic job. Can you think of a time when you coached someone who maybe took your advice and profiled a company and then received a job offer after having previously struggled? I know you gave us one example, but do you have another one you can share? 

Sure, sure, yes. And I once worked with an alumnus who was interviewing for a finance position with a high-tech company. This company's products were very numerous and pretty confidential because their primary customer was the federal government. So my client pulled together as much information as he could regarding this company's products, their competitors, their presence in the media, and was able to formulate several well thought through questions. 

And it was a team interview, so he was able to interact with about five members of a hiring team and actually formulated more questions as the day progressed. So the hiring manager was especially impressed with his knowledge about the product portfolio because it was not easy information to find. And he got an offer, and he's doing very well. 


And it was a really great experience for him. 

So all our career coaches are wonderful, and I highly suggest that you sign up for our services and get some of these great resources that they've put together. Well, that is all the questions we have today. Thank you, Doreen, for sharing your expertise. 

Thank you. 

Smeal Alumni Career Services produces these online resources to promote lifelong learning, professional development, and help keep up on future business trends. All Lifelong webinar and podcast recordings, along with more information about Smeal Alumni Career Services coaching and programs can be found by visiting our website at and clicking on the Alumni tab, or emailing us at