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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Employer Research

Dear Sue: I've been offered a position with a company that I don't really know a lot about. I want to educate myself and learn more about this company in order to make an intelligent decision about working there. What is the best way to investigate a company? 

- Marty 

Sue Says: One of the best ways to find out real insider information about a company is by talking with the people who work there, according to Katharine Hansen, author of several books and contributor to the web site, If you don't know anyone in the company, you can try to identify and go to restaurants and bars where company workers hang out, and try to gather information from them. You can also ask your contact at the company to put you in touch with people who might be your future co-workers.

You will want to research companies in two phases; at the beginning when you're trying to decide what jobs to target in your search, and toward the end when you have received one or more job offers and are trying to find out more about the company to determine if you want to take the job.

The Internet will be one of your greatest assets in researching companies, and there are many different avenues for researching companies available. Places to look for company profiles can be found at sites like,, and

The information you find will vary depending on whether it is a private or public company, but some of the areas you can research include: 

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the industry the company operates in.
  • Key competitors in the industry.
  • Recent news (new plants, takeovers, etc.) about the company .
  • Past quarter, six-months, or annual sales performance.
  • Past quarter, six-months, or annual profits (or losses).
  • Recent stock performance (if a public company).

You are wise to do your investigating before you accept an offer, so that you are in a good position to make your final decision.

Dear Sue: My organization is going through a major restructuring. Tension is high everywhere on all levels. Any tips on how to remain levelheaded during this period? 

- Tense

Sue Says: I've worked with several companies during times of transition, and have seen first hand how challenging the process can be. Mistakes are likely; changes won't always work out, and new policies often don't make any sense. People become worried about their job security and their role within the company. All of these conditions, and more, make for a tense environment. 

Many people resist change, which is what a restructure is all about. Resisting change is futile; the restructure already is taking place. 

While it is not easy, do your best to "go with the flow". Be proactive; don't complain and commiserate with coworkers - look for new opportunities and try view change positively. You never know what good may come out of this restructure, so don't assume the worst. Keep in mind that an organization needs strong leaders; people who sustain this period will come out ahead of those who do not. It takes more effort to fight the inevitable than to embrace and accept it. 

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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