by Paula Rutledge
Look at prior versions of the company’s website. This is particularly helpful if the company is private, small, has been acquired or gone through an ownership change. By looking at previous versions of the website, you can compare iterations of branding and messaging, see what products have been launched – or retired – and check for older news and press releases that may give you a historical perspective of the growth – or contraction of the company.
2. RESEARCH USING MEDICAL DEVICE REGISTER
Use industry resources to see what products the company has on the market. My all time favorite for medical device research (and a site my researchers and I use everyday) is Medical Device Register. I use a corporate version, but you can buy daily or monthly access for as little as $50. Using MDR, you can see not only what the company’s products are – you can use the 3 digit product codes to easily find other companies with the same product. MDR also has information on 510(k) filings, subsidiaries and market segments (Cardiovascular, ENT, etc)
3. LOOK THROUGH FORUMS
Forums are a wild, Wild West version of the water cooler – but on a global scale. They give you gossip, rumor, conjecture and hearsay on just about any company. One caution is that the information is wrong more often than not and some forums are filled with current and former employees either hyping – or blasting a company (and often its employees). Some of the attacks are personal and vindictive, others are humorous but pointless – but occasionally, you’ll find a nugget here and there to give you a peek behind the curtain. Just remember that because postings are anonymous, they tend to be unreliable, especially if they are unmoderated.
4. BEYOND LINKEDIN – Using LinkedIn Company Profiles
I’m assuming that nearly anyone reading this has a profile on LinkedIn. But have you thought about using it as a research tool? Many companies now have company profiles on LinkedIn (as does ours: http://www.Linkedin.com/LegacyMedSearch. This is a great place to get information on the company you’re interviewing with. But take it a step further: Look at the New Hire and Former Employees area – does it show a lot of hiring? Are a lot of people leaving? What companies are the employees coming from? Do you know any former employees you could contact to get some insider tips from? Are any of the current employees in your network – or do you share a group? LinkedIn Groups, by the way, are a wonderful way to network to the company you’d like to work for. You can join up to 50 – and I’d encourage you to do so.
5. PATENT SEARCHES
While Medical Device Register provides information about current products in the portfolio, patent searches can give you an inside track on what may be in the company’s pipeline. If you’re an engineer, product development or R&D professional, you may want to research patents in the company name – and also look under the names of your potential colleagues to see what may be filed but not yet transferred. Also, look for similar products and categories to get a sense of what competing companies have in process.
6. FINANCIAL SITES
Yahoo Finance, BusinessWeek and all the news outlets (CNN, MSN, etc) have great tools that show basic information on publicly traded companies. But don’t forget the investment sites for great insight into companies. My personal favorite is The Motley Fool (www.MotleyFool.com) which breaks down financial terms (EPS, EBITDA, etc) into nuggets for those of us who are not analytical by nature. There are also moderated forums by industry experts who give their opinion on the prospects for many publicly traded companies.
7. SUBSCRIPTION BASED COMPANY INTELL
There are several subscription based services (my favorite: www.WetFeet.com) that sell company profiles on large, usually publicly traded companies. Wet Feet, as it’s name indicates, is geared to entry level positions – but purportedly conducts interviews with applicants, current employees, and past employees to give the job seeker a roadmap into the interviewing process for major companies – as well as a “what you can expect when you’re hired”, which may be helpful to both early-career stage and more seasoned hires.
·Sites: www.hoovers.com, www.zoominfo.com, www.wetfeet.com
8. ANALYST PUBLICATIONS
One great tool we use to prep senior level candidates may be valuable to anyone with a serious interest in a specific company or industry: Analyst reports. Ranging in price from single company or sub-segment reports for $40-150 to full industry reports from $1000++, we get great perspective from powerhouse research firms like Frost & Sullivan, ECRI, Millennium, and various reports from VC driven resources like Windhover (my personal favorite bang for the buck for great research for a reasonable subscription fee) and specialty publications from the Stanford Group. If you’re a mid to senior level executive, these are valuable tools to prepare yourself for deep-dive interviews.
·Sites: www.frost.com; www.ecri.org; www.mrg.net; www.windhover.com; www.stanfordgroup.com
9. YOUR STOCKBROKER
Again, for publicly traded companies, you may tap into your stockbroker for data and research on companies you may be interested in. Many times this information can be found simply by logging onto your brokerage account and researching the company ratings (Buy, Hold, Sell) and comparative financial and competitive data relative to the market.
Don’t forget to check YouTube for both clinical/technical/scientific data AND for company fodder. For instance, one well-known device company posts videos of company picnics, “news you can use” and often entertaining snippets of company life to boost morale (it appears to be working).
You may also find testimonials of patients who have benefitted – or not – using a particular product or treatment. Some I recall are of a woman in her mid 40s who chronicled her laser treatments, a brave man who posted his video diary of deep brain simulation for a movement disorder and several honest and heart-wrenching accounts from people undergoing experimental therapies for life threatening illnesses.
11. PATIENT SUPPORT and ADVOCACY GROUPS
Reading through the logs, blogs and Q&A sections of Patient sponsored websites (sometimes called “Advocacy Groups”) can give you insight into the side-effects and alternative therapies for the company you are interviewing with. Patients’ groups can sometimes provide a unique perspective into how a company treats its true constituents (positive and negative) particularly in newer or unproven treatments and modalities.