How to Create a Target List of Companies

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Job hunting can be overwhelming. By identifying specific companies where you would like to be employed, you'lluse your time wisely and efficiently, bringing order to the job search process. 

If you have a target list of companies, you can go online to discover information about the employer, review open positions, and find connections to help you apply for employment and get a job offer. The internet makes it easy to find detailed information about potential employers. 

Discover the benefits of creating a targeted list of companies, along with tips for how to get started. 

Why It's Worth It to Target Companies

It's important to take the time to research companies. You're wasting time and energy if you just apply for any job opening you find, even though you might feel like you're accomplishing something by sending out tons of resumes.

When the company isn't the right fit for your skills, qualifications, and goals, there isn't much point in pursuing opportunities there—even in a down job market. Why not? Because, in the long run, the job probably isn't going to work out for you—or for the company.

In fact, Zappos, the online shoe retailer, believes so strongly in the importance of fit that the company offers new hires a bonus if they quit. Their logic is that only employees who aren't keyed into the Zappos culture will take the bonus, while those that stay on are a good match for the company and feel invested in it. And after retail giant Amazon acquired Zappos, the company adopted the same policy (with an even larger bonus).

The time you spend upfront investigating companies will benefit you in the long run because you won't be spending energy applying to companies that aren't a good fit. 

By applying for jobs at companies where you know you would like to work, you'll avoid getting deep into the interview process only to realize the company is a poor fit. 

Another advantage of having a list of target companies is that once you know where you want to work, you can try to network with current or former employees who can potentially refer you for a position at the company. 

Choosing Companies

Follow these strategies to find companies that are a good match for your application: 

  • Review lists: There are websites with lists of the best companies to work for. Fortune, for example, ranks companies by a variety of criteria, including the 100 best companies, the 500 top companies, blue ribbon companies, most admired companies, best small companies, and so on. You can also look at lists generated by organizations within your industry. 
  • Go local: Your local Chamber of Commerce is an ideal resource for finding local companies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a directory you can search to find your local Chamber of Commerce. Then visit the Chamber's website to see if there is a directory of local companies. You can also use LinkedIn to search local companies. 
  • Take advantage of organizations: Professional associations typically have lists of member companies. Use it to find member companies at associations in your career field and/or industry.
  • Think about where you've worked: If you're staying in the same industry, you may be aware of some of the stand-out companies. In fact, you may have even worked with some of them, or seen some companies on competitor lists. 
  • Talk to your network: Having conversations with colleagues and people within your network can also help you pinpoint which companies are a good match for you. 
  • Consider your priorities: Look for companies where the mission and culture match your values and priorities. Companies should also have positions that match your abilities and experience (even if the job isn't currently posted). 

Finding Company Information

Once you've found companies to target, the next step is to research the company to verify that it is, in fact, a good match.

  • Use LinkedIn's companies section as a tool to find company information. Search by keyword or browse industry information. You'll be able to see your connections at the company, new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies, and company statistics.
  • Visit Glassdoor.com. You'll find company reviews, ratings, salaries, CEO approval rating, competitors, content providers, and more company information.

You can also review recent news stories about the company and take a look at their social media accounts to get a good sense of the company's products, values, and identity.

Spending time on a company's website is also generally informative. 

Finding Job Listings

Your next step is to start checking out job opportunities. Visit the company web site to review open positions. Most companies have an employment section with current job openings, and you may be able to apply directly online.

Job search engine LinkUp searches only company sites, so it's an excellent resource for finding jobs at specific employers. Also, search the other job search engines by company name to find additional job postings.

Look for Contacts

LinkedIn

Next, you need to find contacts at the company who can help you get a foot in the door. When you visit the LinkedIn company pages, you will see your contacts at the company. Reach out to them, let these contacts know of your interest in their company, and ask if they can help. You can also consider connecting with HR professionals and recruiters at the company.

Facebook

Search Facebook Groups by company name to see if there is a Group for your target company. Ford Motor Company, for example, has a group for people who work, have worked, or will work for Ford. 

Twitter

You can also try searching for contacts on Twitter; many people list their employer in their bio. Follow current employees for your target company, and you might hear about job postings early or gain insight into the company. 

Career Services and Alumni Offices

If you are a college graduate, check with your career services office or alumni office and inquire if there is a database of alumni you can get in touch with. Many colleges and universities have alumni and parents who have volunteered to help with career networking.

Connecting with Contacts

What's the best way to approach your contacts to ask for assistance? Here's advice on using social media as part of your job search, and how to use your connections on LinkedIn.

Key Takeaways

A TARGET LIST MAKES YOUR JOB SEARCH MORE EFFICIENT Use your time wisely, rather than applying to every job out there. 

USE ALL YOUR RESOURCES TO CREATE A LIST Media lists and your personal connections, as well as professional organizations and websites such as LinkedIn, are helpful as you assemble a list of target companies. 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CONTACTS With a target list of companies in mind, you can take advantage of your network to get referrals for jobs as well as more information on the company.

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