How to Research an Organisation So it Makes an Impact in Your Application

"Why should I research the organisation? Shouldn't I be investing all of my time actually writing my job application?"

These are the things I said when I started writing my first ever job applications. And these are the objections I hear from job applicants today. Especially government job applicants.

So, why should you, as a government job applicant, spend time researching the organisation you are applying to?

Because ... as an applicant you need to be able to demonstrate that you are better able to satisfy the requirements of the position than any other applicant. That is how you get the job. Showing that you know a lot about the organisation and requirements of the position, will help you do this. If you can draw parallels between the organisation, the position and how your exact skills and experience will 'fit', you are one step ahead of all the other applicants.

I have been a selection panel member or countless government recruitment exercises where we end up with two applicants who are very close. Either could do the job. The thing that always makes the difference is the applicant who can align their skill set to the needs of the job and the needs of the organisation. In addition, they are are showing that they are committed to the position and have invested time and effort to prove so. And this is the person who gets the job.

So, while spending time finding out more about the organisation might not help in all circumstances, imagine if you are one of those final two applicants fighting for the job. Or one of two applicants fighting for the final interview spot. That little bit of extra time at the beginning of the job application process will mean that your answers to the selection criteria will be more relevant and targeted to the job - and might make all of the difference!

How it's Done

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge into applying for a job, but before you start writing your application, it is important to find out as much information as you can about the position, the company, and the industry. Therefore, you are better positioned if you invest time into researching the government agency, area the position is located in, and the actual position so that you can frame your application to their needs.

You Can Find Out More About an Organisation From:

  • Annual reports
  • Conference papers
  • The organisation’s website
  • Industry briefs
  • Brochures
  • Newsletters
  • Press / newspaper articles (State and University libraries are great for this information – librarians are often willing and happy to assist your search)
  • Friends / family already in the industry
  • Recruitment consultants (who are recruiting for similar positions)
  • If the organisation has a graduate recruitment program, graduate information packs can be a great resource, even if you are not applying for a graduate position.

What Sort of Information Should You Be Researching?

  • What they do and who they do it for
  • Mission and vision statements (making a link between the position and how it relates to the vision / mission statement of the organisation will do wonders for the credibility of your job application)
  • Key accountabilities
  • Objectives of the department
  • Department budget (if applicable to the role)
  • Who are the key people in the department (ie Minister and department head)
  • Department structure / organisational charts and staff numbers
  • Any other closely linked organisations
  • Any recent history of note

The information that you research is perfect to add to your interview cheat sheet for easy reference during the interview.

This article first appeared in the newsletter.

More Help With Your Job Application:

How to write better selection criteria

How to research an organisation

Dealing with selection criteria that you don't meet