Library Blog

Back to Work – Researching Businesses for Job Seekers

Back to Work reminder on a wall calendar

As you start applying for jobs, it’s a great idea to research the businesses to whom you are applying. This research can put you ahead of other jobseekers as your knowledge of the company will be clear when you send a coverletter and/or when you are being interviewed.  Plus, some online job applications have added a text box where they ask why the person wants this job.  This is where you explain why you want to work for that business, providing them with the specifics of how your skills and interests match the requirements for the job and point out how you fit that business’s ‘mission’.  In essence, it is a minicoverletter on the job application. Finally, doing business research will help you to avoid falling victim to a scammer, because, unfortunately, there are individuals out there who put fake job ads in newspapers and online in order to trick you into giving them money or even the information which will allow them to steal your identity.  When you research a business, you can confirm that it is a real business and find its actual contact information. 

Here are two resources that are useful for researching companies: 

Business Insights Global is a great resource to locate detailed company history information.  Many businesses may put a brief history of one or two page paragraphs on their company website.  This resource gives you access to four to five page company histories! 

The way to do a company history search is to: 

Open Business Insights Global 

Business Insights Global main page

Clicked Advanced Search 

Business Insights Global Advanced Search page

In the first search field, type in the company name, change Keyword to Company Name, then change the Content Type to Company Histories

Business Insights Global Company History Search example

Click Search 

Business Insights Global Company History Search result

Click on the company name to see the history. 

Business Insights Global Marshalls Company History

If you printed this company history for Marshalls, it would be 4 to 5 pages long.  This is much longer than what you will usually find when you visit a company’s online website where they often summarize their history down to 1 or 2 paragraphs.  And, the reason I picked Marshalls as my example is that they actually do not post any company history on their website.  So, this resource is giving you a great deal more information to use towards a cover letter or in preparation for answering questions in a job interview.

Our next resourceReference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA), is great for locating address information and looking up the competitors which allows you to say you want to work for some business because you find them so much better than some other business (which you pick from the competitor list).  A great place to look in each entry is the Business Profile where you can find a good description about the business.  However, this field is usually only filled in for headquarter businesses, not for local franchises in a nationwide chain.  

Here’s an example of using Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA): 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) home page

Choose U.S. Business 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) U.S. Business search page

Type in a Company Name, City, and choose the State.

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Business search example

Then click View Results. 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Business search result

Click on the company name from the results to see more information about the company, such as their full Location Info (which includes the company website), their Industry Profile (which tells you what type of business they do), and more. A key feature to look for is the Business Profile as it can provide a very useful company description and business summary; however, with chain franchise businesses, usually only the corporate headquarters fills in that information.

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Marshalls top part of result

Scroll to the bottom to see the Business History and the Competitors Report: 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Marshalls Competitor Report at bottom

Now, click Back.

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Marshalls clicking Back Arrow

Click the Up Arrow under Corp Tree on the right until you cannot go any further up the corporate tree.  

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) Marshalls Corporate Tree search

You will know you have reached the top of the Corporate Tree because the arrow will change to a Down Arrow: 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) TJX result for Marshalls Corporate Tree search

Open TJX and look at the Business Profile, which is filled in as as TJX is a business headquarters: 

Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) TJX and Business Profile example

As you can see, they have a brief, but detailed summary of the business which indicates that TJX owns many stores, such as Marshalls and TJMaxx. 

When you choose to talk about competitors in a coverletter or job interview exercise caution.  Sometimes a company listed as a competitor may actually be a sister/brother business. For many years, ReferenceUSA listed TJMaxx as a competitor of Marshalls, but we can see from this search, that they are owned by the same headquarters company, and so are actually related businesses. 

You will find these multi-relationship businesses a lot in the manufacturing and medical fields.  Most medical facilities here in Mahoning are under the umbrella of Mercy Health.  With manufacturing, we had a great example illustrated on the local news stations when GM Lordstown’s plant was closing.  There was a whole series of stories about one company after another which were making their final parts to send to the plant for the Chevy Cruze, and then their business was closed.  None of those businesses were located at the plant, instead, they were outside businesses under the GM umbrella, making parts for that car. 

The main thing is that doing this research and knowing facts and trivia about a business show the company that you are truly interested in working for them.  It helps put you ahead of other job applicants in a very busy and competitive job market! 

For more about using Business Insights Global, check out:

For more about using Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA), check out:

This is the final blog in this Online Resources for Job Seekers series.  I hope that all of you job seekers out there have found these videos and blogs helpful in moving towards your goal of being hired employees!

Sara Churchill

Sara Churchill is the Digital Services Specialist and Assistant Supervisor in the Information Services Department at Main Library. A major fan of technology devices and computer research resources at work, she enjoys helping everyone learn to use their devices and the library's many online resources.  She loves reading Science Fiction/Fantasy books, British cozy mysteries, True Crime and other true stories, plus a past reader of horror fiction by the likes of Stephen King and John Saul (among others).  Also, she’s a big fan of Sci-fi, action, horror, spaghetti westerns, and based-on-a-true story movies.  Her blogs are for adults and the entire family to enjoy reading and trying out the many online resources free for PLYMC library cardholders to use.