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Career Research and Interview Preparation @ Pitt

Provides an overview of library resources that can help with career research and interview preparation.

Business Research Help

Have questions about business research or the resources on this page?

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Learn about the Company

Are you trying to learn more about potential companies or industries you want to work for? Are you preparing for an interview or job application?

We will start by exploring company research, so you can learn all about companies you are interested in or applying to. You'll likely want to find company profiles to get a good overview, learn about their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in SWOT reports, be up-to-date on company news, learn about their competitors and how they do in the rankings. And if you're interested in local companies, you'll want to check out some Pittsburgh-specific resources.

Note: Keep in mind that it is much more difficult to find information on private companies. Learn more about private company research.

Company Profiles and Histories

 first page of a mergent company profile

There are many places you can find information about a company and its history. Try the following approaches:

  • Company's website
    • Websites often include an "about us" section that sometimes detail their history. Remember, the company will explain its history the way it wants to be seen.
  • Annual report
    • Public companies are required to file an annual report to the U.S. government, known as a 10-K. These reports will often include a section on the company's history. Again, remember this is a self-reported history.
  • Find books/ebooks that contain corporate histories
    • Books about a company often include historical background.
    • Do a keyword search in PittCat to find any books in the University Library System which cover your company's history.
  • Search for articles
    • Newspaper, trade/magazine, and scholarly articles that mention or are about specific companies might provide some historical information.

Accompanying image is from a company report in the Mergent Online database.

Although it might take some digging and persistence, searching for articles that refer to your company can prove helpful. Try the below databases, along with Google and Google Scholar.

SWOT and Five Forces Analysis Reports

The following databases are great places to find SWOT reports, which provide additional insight into a company.SWOT Analysis chart

SWOT : Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

"...A framework for identifying the internal strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) of a firm, and the external opportunities (O) open to it and the threats (T) it faces, which can be used by corporate planners in formulating the firm's competitive strategy and marketing strategy in individual product markets and its overall business strategy." - Collins Dictionary of Business

Use the information found in SWOT reports to search for additional articles that might go into more depth.

Image by Xhienne, CC-BY.

Michael Porter claims that "the state of competition in an industry depends on five basic competitive forces" (1980, p.3). The five forces are: threat of new entry, threat of substitution, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers, and competitive rivarly.

*Porter, Michael E. 1980. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. The Free Press. New York.

While you will often need to conduct your own Five Forces Analysis, you can find some pre-made reports in the following databases.

You can sometimes find Five Force Analysis Reports in journal and magazine articles.

1. Type your industry in the first search box, and "five forces" in the second.

Company News

business newspaperFinding up-to date company information and news can be really important when working on research projects, networking, and job hunting. Use the following resources to help.

Many companies are using social media outlets both to convey their message and to track what customers are saying about them on the web. Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube can provide insight into your company and the responses of their users.

For example, searching Twitter for your company or product line can yield a bevy of marketing insight and customer commentary.

Many databases offer alert services. Look for any button or link that says alerts or save search or something similar. Most databases will first require you to sign up for a free account. 

For further information about setting up alerts, RSS feeds, and other ways to get up-to-date company news more quickly, refer to the following guide.

Pittsburgh Companies

View of downtown Pittsburgh at the PointTo find a local Pittsburgh company, you may need a more specialized set of sources or a regional perspective for smaller Pittsburgh companies. 

Use the links in this box to find resources you can use to find information on Pittsburgh companies, particularly those that are smaller and/or private.

Image by Henry C. Schmitt, CC-BY.

Pittsburgh Business Focused Websites

Pittsburgh Business Directories

Local newspapers can be a great source of information for local companies.  For information about many newspapers in the Pittsburgh region, consult the following libguide. 

Good places to search for local news include: