8 Ways & 22 Resources to Find Financial Information on Public & Private Companies

8 Ways & 22 Resources to Find Financial Information on Public & Private CompaniesIf you’re in a job search or planning one for 2019, one of the best job search strategies to leverage is company targeting ~ the process of building networking connections inside organizations for which you would like to work. As you do so, you’ll eventually earn interviews and, hopefully, job offers, and once you receive one or more offers, you can and should think about researching the firm’s financial status.

Why? It makes good sense to ensure the company you want to join next is on a solid financial footing, but when you consider the evidence that our economy may be starting to slow down, it’s just plain smart to pay additional attention to the fiscal health of your current or prospective employer.


How to Research Public Companies

Researching the financial health of a public company is made easy by the availability of public records such as annual and quarterly reports which must be shared with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). You can access all kinds of financial data about your current and prospective public employers via the SEC’s EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis & Retrieval System), including 10-Ks and 10-Qs (see below). Here’s the SEC’s handy EDGAR tutorial in case you need it. You can also access EDGAR filings via Lexis/Nexis, Mergent Online (financial data for 28,000 U.S., Canadian, and international firms), Factiva (corporate profiles, news releases, financial data, and competitor information), and Crunchbase (current company and industry intelligence).

In Canada, check SEDAR (System for Electronic Document Analysis & Retrieval) for public filing information in French and English. In the U.K., try Companies House; for other countries try the International Organization of Securities Commissions. Lastly, here’s a great list of other informational resources you can tap to study non-U.S. companies.

Because you can source different kinds of data from different resources, make it a point to also check out Bloomberg (trading data, market monitors, and news) and Datastream (securities data). Many business databases are available through your local public library, usually via their website (see “databases” or “electronic resources” from the homepage, then look at the business databases they offer). Libraries use your tax dollars to purchase access to these databases on behalf of patrons, which means you will have to have a library card/PIN to access these tools online. While many of these databases can also be accessed directly via the website links provided in this post, others like ReferenceUSA are only available via library systems. ReferenceUSA is a great option for researching companies in specific industries and geographic locations.

Two additional ways to tap into these databases include the Library of Congress and academic libraries. If you’re an alumnus of an academic institution and are registered as such with their website, you may be able to access that organization’s electronic resources as well.

Scroll down this page to see the Library of Congress categories for different kinds of business directories you may want to examine.

  1. Check out the company’s annual report. You can often find the most recent version in the About pages of the company’s website, generally in their Investor Relations section. Start here and then move on to the specialized data available in free and paid databases.
  2. To dive deeper into a company’s finances, delve into their 10-K, a more exhaustive report that includes financial statements (income, balance sheets, cash flow), revenue generation, current/future risks, and prior-year business reporting. Here’s a 10-K overview from Investopedia you might want to check out if you’re not familiar with them.
  3. For shorter-term financial data, look at the company’s 10-Q which is a quarterly overview published three times per year. Each 10-Q encompasses two parts. The first details condensed financial statements, market risk disclosures, and internal controls; the second details legal proceedings, unregistered equity sales, and defaults upon senior securities. Read more about 10-Q’s here at Investopedia.
  4. An S-1 is a registration statement for private companies who are going public (an IPO).
  5. An 8-K often includes announcements of mergers, acquisitions, and other material business shifts.
  6. If you’re wanting to research multinational firms, check out Uniworld for data on American firms operating abroad and foreign firms operating in the U.S. Their records span >100 countries and 1,200 industries.
  7. Business rankings can give you a quick snapshot of how companies compare to others. The most well-known are those of Fortune and Forbes, but there are more available which encompass an array of topics and specialty categories, including Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Financial Times, Inc, InformationWeek, American City Business Journals, and CRN. Industry-specific rankings are also available for many sectors ~ your local reference librarian or a quick online search can help you find the ones you need.
  8. Specialized news sources can help you dig for information that is less specific than financial data but still helpful to know, especially if you’re hoping to stick with your next employer for years to come. This Library of Congress listing showcases a few options you may want to consider.


How to Research Private Companies

Generally speaking, it’s much harder to find financial data for private companies than public firms since the reporting requirements are different. However, you may be in luck if the company you’re targeting has merged with or been acquired by a public firm or if the organization was once a public company but is now private. In either case, you may be able to source at least some data from publicly available records.

Don’t overlook the data you can source from the company’s web page or from local/regional news outlets, but if those don’t pan out, try Crunchbase (see above) for information on start-ups and incubators, Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers, PrivCo, and state corporation registries.

You can also look at articles in newspapers, magazines, and trade journals which you can access at your local library via a database that includes the full text of the latter.

Let me be perfectly clear here ~ I’m not suggesting you need to check out all the companies on your target list to the degree outlined in this post. But doing so for at least those who extend job offers to you makes abundant good sense. You don’t want to take a new job only to find out later that it’s poorly run or struggling financially. Who needs another layoff?


I hope you already know that ExecutiveResumeRescue.com is a great source for how-to career management, job search, and resume information. Just check out my Resources page to pore through a treasure trove of great articles and blog posts.

About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.