Salary & Company Research

Salary Information & Resources

Cost of Living Salary Calculator
Allows city-by-city comparison of national cost-of-living differences

Salary.com
Comprehensive site with up-to-date compensation information

JobStar.org
Provides salary/compensation section including links to over 300 salary surveys

Bureau of Labor Statistics and
Job Search Compensation Center from About.com
Tips, tools and insights into salary and other compensation

ERI Economic Research Institute: College Students Career Planning
Compensation and benefits research site. Includes information about expected career earnings, cost of living analysis, expected starting salary survey, and salary assessor tools

America's Career InfoNet
Maintained by the US Dept of Labor this site includes information on over 460 occupations as well as market outlook predictions and job listings.

Payscale.com
Provides salary comparisons. Enter your information and generate a personalized report that shows how your salary compares with others.

Researching Employers

Reasons & Resources

Researching potential employers is a critical step in the job search process. It assists you in tailoring your resume and cover letter to a particular organization. It helps you convey interest, enthusiasm, and "fit" for an employer during an interview. And perhaps most importantly, it will help you discover if an employer is the right one for you.

A variety of resources exist to assist you in company research. Keep in mind that publicly owned companies and large corporations are easier to research than private companies or local businesses. Researching foreign-owned companies, government agencies, and local or regional employers will be challenging, but not impossible.

For each employer, try to find the information concerning:

  • Age and size
  • Services and products
  • Divisions, subsidiaries, and locations
  • Position in industry and competitors
  • New products or projects
  • Sales and profits for last several years
  • Training and development philosophy

Corporate Employers

Most corporations have annual reports, shareholder information, and recruiting literature available for review and/or download on their website. If not, you can call their human resources or public relations department to have it sent to you. These documents are not difficult to understand if you use the following keys:

  • Annual Report - Letter to Shareholders: This is an overview of the past year, a glimpse of new products and services, and idea of the company's personality. The letter will be almost entirely upbeat, so watch for phrases like "except for" and "despite the" for an indication of any negative issues.
  • Annual Report - Financial Statement: Read carefully about the company's financial health by comparing losses, gains, and taxes, and do not overlook the footnotes. If earnings are up, perhaps it is due to an unexpected gain that will not happen again next year. If earnings are down, it could be a good sign. Maybe a change in accounting will reduce the tax bill and give the company cash for expansion.
  • Annual Report - Auditor's Report: The letter from a company's certified public accountants will tell you if the annual report conforms to "generally accepted auditing standards." Again, this is a conditional statement. Especially watch for "subject to" language that will indicate discrepancies or significant uncertainties about a particular business transaction.
  • 10-K Statement: This financial disclosure statement, written for shareholders, is submitted annually to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It can be viewed on the Edgar Database of Corporate Information (www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm). Look for a variety of financial data, including information about new products, subsidiary activities, and pending litigation.
  • 8-K Statement: This statement is used to report to shareholders the occurrence of major changes, including mergers, acquisitions, and management shake-ups. It provides more current information than the 10-K statement and is also available on the Edgar Database.

Privately Owned Employers

For organizations that are privately owned, you will need to be resourceful as you search for information. Private companies, unlike publicly owned ones, are not required to file open reports about their activities.

You will want to search for an Internet site and call the organization's human resources or public relations department to have brochures and other literature sent to you.

Foreign-Owned Employers

Foreign-owned organizations, like those that are privately owned, can also be difficult to research. There are also many directories that can help your search, including the World Business Directory, Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States, Directory of Foreign Manufacturers in the United States, and Moody's International Manual. Finally, a library database, Worldscope, will give you financial data for companies in Western Europe and Japan.

Local or Regional Employers

For organizations that are local or regional, you are not likely to have much luck with printed directories. State industrial directories, available at your public library, will include business names and address but little additional information. Your best bet in these cases is to check with the local chamber of commerce or United Way and to try searching for the employer on the Internet. You can also check at the public library, historical society, or local newspaper for clipping files of previous news articles on the organization. Finally, the company itself is usually the best source for information. You can call and request that brochures and other literature be sent to you, and you can also ask about an Internet site if you have been unable to find one.

Government Employers

When researching government employers, you can use a variety of strategies to find information on the function, size, budget, overall health, and relevant issues or challenges for each department or agency in which you are interested.

Printed directories are available for federal, state, and local governments; they will give you a breakdown of departments, agencies, and subdivisions as well as contact information. As public agencies, the government offices themselves also generate Internet sites, brochures, annual reports, employee manuals, organizational charts, position descriptions, and other relevant information. Ask the office directly for copies of this information or look for it at your local library.

Keep in mind that the best source of information on government employers comes from informational interviewing and from inside contacts you have made within each department. If you do not know anyone who works in an agency of interest, call the appropriate personnel or public information office and ask for the name of the department manager or supervisor in your specialty. During the meeting, be sure to discuss your interests and skills, ask for advice on getting hired, and request the names of managers in similar departments with whom you can speak.