Researching Professional Contacts Online

In the job hunt, there are certain situations where you will have to find out a person’s contact information or learn a little more about someone. Whether you are looking to submit your resume to a specific company or will be interviewing with someone specific, it is beneficial to know your audience. With a small piece of information, like a contact’s name or job title, it is possible to learn plenty about the person before ever formally meeting them.

Search Engine

Using a search engine is the broadest way to find out about a person. Search for their name, job title, company, and location to uncover their personal social media profiles, professional website, and other useful data. If the person has a common name (i.e. John Doe), you may have to experiment with a variety of search terms to find the correct information.

Personal Website

If the contact in question has a personal portfolio or other website, browse around. You may see work samples, links to other websites (like social media profiles), contact information, and other valuable information to further your search.

LinkedIn

Next, visit LinkedIn to learn about the person’s career and background. LinkedIn is a professional social media site, so many businesspeople have a profile. You may be able to find great information about their background, shared connections, and their personal philosophy and thoughts on the industry.

Press Releases

Another professional outlet, press releases or other news stories can reveal even more about a person’s professional career and show what the company is up to. Knowing a business’s most recent announcements or your interviewer’s stance on a recent topic shows you have done your research.

Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media

These networks are more casual. Where LinkedIn is what the person wants to project professionally, these other social networks may be more personal. This could help you find out a little bit more about them as a person to relate to them more effectively. In addition, you may be able to use the information on these networks to your advantage otherwise – a heavy Twitter user might mention being out of town, so you could wait to send your email at a better time, for example.

With a little practice, it is easy to find information about most people online. Using this research, you can tailor your resume, cover letter, or interview answers to better suit the company and the individual you will be meeting. Remember – it is great to show you did your research, but try to err on the side of caution when it comes to personal information. Telling an interviewer you loved the interview they did for a blog or magazine recently is great, but reciting a recent Twitter status update they made is too much.