Most job search approaches are Ready! Fire! Aim!
Don't do it. Do your company research FIRST.
What happens in the real world is that most job searchers will throw a lot of resumes against the wall and see what sticks. We all know that job search is a numbers game. Since a certain percentage will fall our way, why not stack the deck up front and follow up with those that "stick"?
Here are two big problems with that thinking:
1. Having not done the basic research beforehand, should a call come through for an initial phone screen, you are caught dead in the water. You don't even have any basic knowledge about either the company or the job opportunity. Not only do you look foolish, you're now toast. You've just been ruled out of contention after a 5-minute phone call. Your resume has just been thrown on the reject pile and the interviewer moves on to the next candidate to call.
2. Your resume is an application for working at this company. If you haven't put any forethought into the reality of this possibility, when are you planning to do so? Waiting until after you have interviewed for this position could put you in a more emotionally vulnerable state. You'll tend to feel more desperate to make some change. Once in the process, you'll overlook certain negatives that creep up once you get caught up in the excitement of the interview process and the possibilities of change.
Here's an example from my own career: Many years ago I was working for a large pharmaceutical company and desired a change to a more dynamic company. After a few months of being "available", I had an opportunity to work for a company I knew little about. I interviewed and let myself get caught up in the excitement and ignored the nagging doubts that told me the job responsibilities were not right. I accepted the job offer, and spent most of the next 11 months hating my new job. It was a great company, just a bad fit with my personality. I knew this AFTER I started interviewing, but I found it hard to say no. If I had done my research ahead of time, I never would have considered this opportunity.
Lesson: Research BEFORE you leap when you're calm and rational and can focus your time and energy on those specific companies and opportunities where you'll feel more of a fit.
You should answer these basic questions:
How large is the company?
What products/services do they offer?
Who are their competitors?
Where do they rank in their market?
What is their financial situation?
The advantages of knowing this information up front puts you in a power position when you DO receive a call from an employer. You're now in a position to talk intelligently about the company, their opportunity, their products, and use this information to generate a knowledgeable conversation with your caller. This signifies interest and gets you to the next stage: a more in-depth phone screen or a face-to-face interview.
Here are some resources to get this information:
Corporate Websites (see also their Press Release section).
The Reference Section of your local public library.
Standard & Poors®.
The Business Journal, local trade or business papers (see your library).
Talk with people (social software, network).
Be current on a company before you even send your resume. Find out earlier rather than later whether you would actually like to work for a particular company. It can make all the difference if you do the legwork up front rather than leaving it to chance late in the interview stage.