Knowledge of your potential sports industry employer can give you the upper hand over rival candidates. Sue Courtney, head of corporate services at leading sports agency Limelight Sports, explains how researching a company can demonstrate your desire to work for a company.
Tip 1: Be a newshound
Examining media coverage of an employer will give you a solid idea of their presence in the market.
"Look for any recent news articles on the company or its work," says Courtney. "You might find these on the website or by running another internet search. Who is talking about them and why? Does anyone in the company regularly write news articles? This will really help you understand what sort of industry presence they have."
Tip 2: Harness the power of social media
Examining a company's profile on social media platforms will give you valuable insights from those in the know.
"Take a look at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to see where they have a presence," says Courtney. "What are they talking about on these sites? What are the hot topics? What are they interested in? Who are they following? This will help to give you a more insightful look at the company and enable you to gauge people's opinions on the things they are talking about."
Tip 3: Call on your contacts
Don't rely solely on third-hand accounts of an organisation. Make use of your contacts in the industry.
"Chat to friends, colleagues or associates who work in the sports industry to see what they know about the company or organisation," says Courtney. "This will give you a more personal perspective of the company and help you to build your own profile of them."
Tip 4: Explore industry trends
Understanding your potential new employer is one thing, but assessing the broader challenges in the marketplace can give you an advantage.
"Make sure you have checked out the websites of any of the company's major clients, competitors and the sports they are involved in," says Courtney. "What are the key industry trends? What are the company's competitors doing? Is there anything you think would be an opportunity for the company? Also try to understand about the sports the company is involved in - what is happening at elite level and what is happening at the grassroots level to get people engaged in the sport?"
Tip 5: Demonstrate your research
If you've secured that all-important interview be prepared to show your new-found knowledge of the employer.
Courtney says: "I remember conducting an interview, which was going fine but the candidate left a lasting impression when asked 'Do you have any questions?' They responded with 'Yes, what is Limelight's opinion on x and y' - which were two very relevant subjects that we had in fact been discussing internally. This candidate had clearly researched sports participation and what were hot topics within the industry and chosen this opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the sports industry."
Top Tip: Research - the ground rules
Courtney adds: "The first stop for any research should be the company or organisation's website. Look at the company history, its values and principles, as well as any mission statement. This is really important to get a thorough understanding about what makes the company or organisation tick. Look at any case studies they may have on their website to understand their client base and the sports they are involved in. Also, try to find out the names of the key people in the organisation. Who are the chief executive, managing director and senior managers? What is their business and sporting background? This could be useful research if you get an interview!"