Looking for a job match made in heaven? These tips will help you research a company and find your dream job.

In both dating and in job seeking, it's all about finding “the one” — someone who not only shares your values but also brings out the best in you. That's why it's so important to find an employer whose company culture is compatible with your personality, your preferred work style, and your values. In fact, when TopResume asked over 100,000 job seekers over a period of seven months, “What matters most to you when deciding which job to take next?”, company culture was cited as the most important factor, beating salary and bonus.

In turn, employers are looking for the same connection with their prospective hires. A Jobvite study found that 83 percent of recruiters consider culture fit to be the most important hiring factor after previous job experience. You can have all the right qualifications for a role, but if you aren't a good cultural fit with the company, you ultimately won't be successful. That's why it's so critical to learn as much about a prospective employer's company culture before you decide to accept their job offer.  

How do you do this? Easy — it's all about learning how to find a job you love. Use the tips below on how to research a company before applying for a job and what to look for during the interview process to ensure you find the right match.

Search online

Once you've taken some time to consider what matters most to you in your next role, the next step in your job search is to actively seek out companies that embody those traits. Maybe the things that are most important to you are work-life balance and a company's interest in its employees' professional development. Run an online search to uncover lists of companies that are known for these qualities. Develop a target company list, making a point to regularly check these companies' websites for new opportunities. In addition, use this information to set up saved searches for similar companies on your favorite job boards.

Seek out references

Did you know you are 10 times more likely to land a job when your application is accompanied by an employee referral? Before you apply for a position, take a look at your professional network to see if you know anyone who currently works or previously worked at the organization. Not only could your connections help you avoid the resume black hole, but they could also provide you with valuable insights into the company culture and the hiring process you won't find anywhere else. Use the information you gain from your contacts to determine if the company is a good fit for you and help you prepare you for interviews with the organization.

Revisit the company's website

The internet is full of resources that can help you get a better sense of a company's culture before you even set foot in the interview room. Start by revisiting the company's site, particularly their “Careers” section. Today, many organizations are investing in what is referred to as their “employer brand” to provide prospective candidates with a better understanding of what it's like to work at their company. Be on the lookout for videos, employee testimonials, information about the company's mission, and social media accounts that are dedicated to the company's recruiting efforts. These will help you gauge the corporate culture and decide if the company's work environment — and its values — are right for you.

Related: Is This Company Right for You? Run a Social Media Check to Find Out

Find out what others are saying about them

When making a career move, don't forget to check online for company reviews. I'm not just talking about the reviews you'll find on sites like TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau, though those are also worth looking at. Instead, find out what former and current employees are saying about their employers, the company culture, and the interview process on sites like Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and Firsthand. This is especially useful if you don't know anyone who works at the company who can share their firsthand experiences.

Take these reviews with a grain of salt, however. Disgruntled employees are much more likely to post a review than someone who's happy with their job, while many companies actively encourage their newest employees to post reviews while they're still in the honeymoon stage of their employment.

Set up Google News Alerts

Whether you're interested in learning more about one of your target companies or you're preparing for an upcoming interview, Google News Alerts are a great way to stay in the know about your field and its major players. You can easily create an alert for a specific company to learn how they're being portrayed in the news and what initiatives they're currently involved in. While this won't give you deep insights into the company culture, it will help you understand how they are perceived by the media and see any strategic decisions that have been made available to the public.

Prepare questions for your interview

If you want to find your dream job, remember that the interview process should be a two-way street. Just as the company is evaluating you and your skills for their role, it's your job to ask the hiring manager questions to get a better sense of the position, expectations, and the company culture so you can decide if the position is right for you. Here are some great examples of questions to ask in order to understand what it's really like to work at the company:

  • If you could describe your corporate culture in three words, what would you say and why?

  • What's one thing that's integral to this company's success that an outsider wouldn't know about?

  • How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

  • What kinds of people are successful here? What kinds of people have either fizzled out, failed, or left?

  • How does the company recognize employee accomplishments?

Take note of your surroundings

When you're brought in for an interview, pay close attention to what's going on around you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the waiting room look like?

  • How is the receptionist treated by those who work at the company?

  • How is the office decorated? How are the workspaces arranged?

  • Do people have pictures or other personal effects on their desks, or are their workspaces pretty sterile?

  • Is there a break room or kitchen in sight? Are people eating at their desks or leaving the office for lunch?

All of these little details provide insight into the corporate company culture and what you can expect, should you accept an offer from this organization.

Related: 5 Ways to Evaluate Company Culture During a Job Interview

Evaluate the interview process

Consider how you were treated during the interview process. Did the recruiter reschedule your interview three times before finally getting you into the office? Did most of the interviewers seem prepared for your meeting, or did they appear to be thrown into the mix at the last minute? When you asked each interviewer specifics about the job and what would be required, were their answers somewhat consistent or did they vary greatly?

Your treatment during the interview process is often an indication of what you will face at the company if you decide to work there. 

Using these tips, you will better be able to figure out what positions to take — and what positions to leave behind — during your job search. Good luck!  

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