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Researching Companies

Researching prospective employers is a vital part of the job application process and is especially important if you are attending an interview or preparing to make speculative job applications. Here you can find key sources of employer information to help kickstart your research:

Researching Company Information


The  Prospects Directories and Targetjob publications are available online, both list employers who regularly recruit new graduates and give details of the type of vacancies on offer, plus key contacts so you can look for further background information. In addition, to keep up-to-date with new information on employers, you can register free of charge with both of these sites to receive email updates.

For current graduate vacancies, available immediately, check the Graduate Vacancies page.

Online Information

There is a lot of useful company information available on the web; the following are some of the key sites that may be of use: is a career community where employees contribute salary information, company reviews, and interview questions for job seekers to use in their job search. This is a valuable source of information to prepare for interviews and begin to enter the job market.

Glassdoor for Students, a free job search resource customized to meet the specific needs of students!

Glassdoor for Students tools include…

  • Career Overview pages - Research different industries and career pathsincluding occupational outlook, salary trends, and career demographics
  • Companies hiring new grads – Real-time information and job openings from companies that want to hire recent graduates
  • Entry-level and internship search – A job search that already filters open positions based on experience level and role

Use The Library Databases

The Library at the University of Salford provides access to a range of company and market databases that may help when researching companies. New items are added regularly, so you should keep checking back to see which new materials are available. You can access the list of databases via the The Library webpage listing electronic resources.

Databases of use include:

The Financial Analysis Made Easy Database (FAME) Used to search for financial information on companies and for key contact details.

Graduates who are interested in using FAME may be able to get access via your local public library. For example, in Manchester, the Commercial Library has a copy of the FAME database.

Business Source Premier This contains overviews of leading companies, providing a Datamonitor Report with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) for the companies covered. This database also gives you access to the full text of over 8,500 journals - vital for up-to-date information on a company.

Market Research

Market research information often contains useful information on companies, giving details on competitors, an overview of the environment in which a particular company operates and future development opportunities. The most well-known examples are Mintel and Keynote market research reports.

Graduates who are interested in using Mintel and Keynote may be able to get access via your local public library. For example, in Manchester, the Commercial Library has a copy of these databases and has printed copies of some reports available to read.

Online Newspapers

Online newspapers are also an excellent way of finding up to the minute details of a company's activities-impress at interview with your current awareness!

Newspapers such as The Times and The Independent can be searched online via the University Library.

Library help

You can save time in your research by making use of resources that other information professionals have put together. For example, the British Library provides a useful overview of Information Sources, collecting together websites that have been chosen because they contain information of value to business researchers. These industry guides will give you details of sources to check for competitors, the market and the latest news on your chosen business sector.

An excellent source for local and national business directories is the Commercial Library in Manchester. The Commercial Library in Central Manchester also stocks a variety of trade journals, covering all aspects of business, marketing and industry. These are arranged by subject, to enable you to browse through a whole sector and find sources that you may not have considered using before.

The Commercial Library also has a range of databases available to search for company information. Please note: a charge is sometimes payable for using these databases.

Local information

Local Councils often provide information on businesses in their area. For example:

Tameside Businesses Database offers a searchable online directory of local businesses providing website details for further research

Virtual Manchester lists nearly 5,000 companies in the local area by sector. Many of these businesses are SMEs, (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises).

Yellow Pages online version of the Yellow Pages. You can look for details of any business advertising in Yellow Pages, searchable by location.

Researching Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Small to medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, represent the fastest growing sector of the economy. According to the Enterprise Directorate, in the UK as a whole, SMEs account for over half of employment (58.7 per cent). For the South West, Wales and Northern Ireland, this figure exceeds 70 per cent.

An SME is a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise, defined as employing fewer than 250 people. SMEs are an important growth area for graduate recruitment. New and upcoming businesses tend to be SMEs and they cover almost all business sectors. The sectors traditionally taking advantage of graduate employment are the financial, manufacturing, media and IT sectors. Nevertheless, a good speculative letter and a spot of networking could open doors to other industries.

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) have produced a DVD called Big Opportunities in Small Businesses - Graduates in SMEs that explores how graduates and SMEs can benefit one another. Graduates and their employers relate their own experiences and give practical advice.

These videos are available to watch via our website.

For more information about working for an SME go to our Career Basics publication: Job Hunting for Graduates and visit Working for a Small or Medium Enterprise Webpage