If you’re a recruiter seeking to place a candidate with a company, it’s important to be informed about the organization. Presenting relevant details about a company can be the deciding factor for a candidate. From the initial stages of contact when you hope to ignite interest, to the point when a person is debating about taking a job, a company’s performance data, press coverage and industry outlook can all exert an influence. If you’re an in-house recruiter, you probably know all the facts about your own organization. But how much do you know about your competition? Whether the competition is focused on the same products or services?or if they’re an employer down the block that keeps beating you to the close?having the inside track can be an advantage. Armed with information, you will be in a position to anticipate and address questions as they arise. You will also have a frame of reference, against which you can measure and promote your company. When it comes to obtaining information about an organization, a corporate website may provide you with an overview and some worthwhile data. But because site content varies from company to company and some sites are difficult to navigate, other resources may be more expedient when it comes to fact-finding. Hoover’s Online At Hoover’s Online, you can obtain company snapshots and current news quickly. At the Hoover’s homepage, enter a company name in the box to the right of “Search Company.” Information returned will usually include four categories: “Capsule,” “Financial,” “Profile,” and “Officers.” Access to “Profile” and “Officers” requires a fee-based membership. However, each “Capsule” provides a short business focus summary and brief commentary regarding future performance, which can make membership worthwhile. The “Capsule” for IBM, for example, begins with the statement, “Big Blue is looking rosy,” and goes on to explain why. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Selecting “Companies & Industries” from the homepage leads to a page where industry information can be obtained. This data might prove helpful if you’re trying to convince a candidate to take a job that involves changing industries. At the “News Center,” which is accessible from any page, you’ll find a category called “Today’s Newsmakers.” It lists major companies in the news for the current day and links to more information about each organization. There is also a “Top Business News” category that is easy to scan. WetFeet.Com WetFeet.com is another place to research companies. Although the site is designed to assist job seekers with career decisions, there is information that can be used by recruiters as well. Selecting “Companies” from the homepage leads to a page where you can research a company by entering a name in a search box, view an alphabetical listing, or find a company by industry. For each organization, a “Company Overview” is returned. It includes a brief history of the company, as well as its current status in the marketplace. Information regarding the company’s “Major Line of Business” and “Select Services” is also provided. Under a heading called “The Opportunities” are details about the organization’s size and office locations. To the left of these categories, you’ll find a column of additional facts, among which are “Key Data,” “Key Financial Stats,” and “Personnel Highlights.” The page returned for each company also features a link to “Discussion Boards,” where that organization is the topic of a forum. Besides company details, WetFeet.com features industry profiles, people profiles and more. Although the site charges for certain information, such as “Insider Reports,” there are plenty of free facts, certainly enough to get you started. Vault.com Vault.com is another place to obtain information about a company or a particular industry. Entering a name in the “Search Company Profiles” box at the homepage will lead to a page which contains “Company News,” a link to an “Employee Message Board,” a “Company Snapshot Excerpt,” “The Stats,” “Locations” and “Departments.” There are also two headings called “Uppers” and “Downers.” Selecting “More” under “Company Snapshot Excerpt,” or the tab at the top of the page which simply reads “Company Snapshot,” leads to a fairly in-depth analysis about the organization called “The Scoop.” Here you’ll also find categories called “Getting Hired,” and “Our Survey Says.” Both offer worthwhile insight into company workings. The page ends with a list of “Key Competitors.” Under “Uppers” you’ll find a list of positive facts about the organization, such as “Tuition reimbursement.” Under “Downers” you’ll find the drawbacks to working for the company, some of which can be rather harsh. For example, for one organization, “Lack of guidance from upper management” appears in this category. Still, this sort of information can be beneficial to a recruiter. It offers the opportunity to address issues head on and helps ensure a fit between a candidate and a company. Scanning the “Employee Message Board” can also prove useful in this regard. If you click on the “Message Boards” link from the homepage and then enter a company name into the search box under “Search Vault companies and message boards,” there will be a link to read messages employees have posted regarding issues within their company. It might be better to let your candidate look at these for himself, as some messages can be almost slanderous, and some may not even be true. However, the postings can help a candidate get a feel for what corporate life on the inside may be like. It may be what they’re looking for, or it may send them running. There are other treasures inside the Vault, including a wide assortment of industry categories. For each industry there are links to the latest news and feature articles. There are also industry message boards where various companies are mentioned. Acquiring knowledge about a company or industry for which you’re recruiting is easy if you know where to look. The more you know, the fewer surprises will come up for your candidate after he accepts the offer.