When you spend a long time aspiring to get that dream job offer, it’s okay to let the fantasy run wild. As you compare companies and opportunities, it’s fine to get caught up in the prestige you’ll get, the fun you’ll have, and the money you’ll earn.

But while your dream job is something that you should get excited about, it’s equally important to remember that dreams have a tendency to end. When you finally get the position you’ve been after, you’ll have to live day-to-day with the realities, not the fantasy.

So how well do you really know the job you’re looking for? And, if you know the job, what can you do to solidify your understanding of the company you’ll be working for, their culture, and their all-important finances?

Researching a company is about more than interview preparation

Most of us know the old advice about preparing for a job interview — conduct extensive research into any companies you think you might want to work for and take every opportunity to show off your insight to the interviewers.

Without a doubt, that’s good advice. You should always enjoy a period of the best kind of research, the type that tells you whether you’ll be able to work flexibly, the exciting people you’ll be working alongside, and the salary and benefits you can expect to take home.

But even at this early stage, it can pay to research more widely into the financial standing of the companies you’re applying to. To truly understand the position you’re aiming for, you need to uncover the financial realities they might neglect to mention.

The value of financial research into companies

There are several free online services that will let you access company data, including the financial reports they are required by law to file.

Even at the most basic level, these will tell you:

  • How much money a company is bringing into the business
  • How many expenses are being incurred — and if any of those debts are bad
  • How much profit is left for shareholders, stakeholders, and the people that will ultimately need to be satisfied if a company is to survive

Of course, this is just the start. Various reports unlock different pieces of information, allowing you to build up a complete picture of how companies work.

It can also be useful to look at the bigger picture beyond a single company. Even if the specific business you’re dealing with looks fine, what about the rest of the industry? Are other companies from the same field growing year on year, or struggling to maintain their existing positions?

Thinking about the future of your dream job

Finally, it’s important to contemplate what the future may bring, beyond what a web search will tell you about today.

In part, that may mean looking at the opportunities available within an organization. These may include training programs or structured channels of movement up the company. But just as you will change and evolve over the coming months and years, companies change too.

Looking at current financial data and comparing it to similar reports from the past few years can help to highlight suggested trends and patterns. Small isn’t necessarily bad, but you need to discover whether you’re joining a company on the way up or boarding a sinking ship.

And when you’re equipped with all the right information, you can make sure that the job you’ve been searching for really is a dream come true.

Image by Sam Hames,