When searching for your next job, you’re probably focusing your efforts on postings you see online or opportunities pitched by recruiters who find your resume on LinkedIn or major job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster. However, you can be more proactive and broaden your employment possibilities by creating your own target list of 30-50 companies. 

Before making this list, consider these important questions:   

  • What types of positions are you suited for? Where have you gained most of your work experiences and cultivated your knowledge?
  • Which industries will get the most value from your skill set?
  • What industries, companies and products match your personal interests and passions?
  • Where are you willing to work, in terms of preferred cities and states?
  • What size of company do you want to work for, i.e., a large corporation, smaller privately-held company, mid-sized firm or start-up?
  • Which companies would be on your “dream employer” list?

By answering these questions, you’ll be establishing a solid foundation for your list, which makes the list-building process less daunting. With these criteria in place, you can search for specific companies with greater ease. For example, if you’re a lawyer in Southern Wisconsin, you can search for firms (in your area of practice) that have a significant presence in the greater Milwaukee area.

Here are some free resources that will help you find target companies:  

1. America‘s Career InfoNet Employer Locator: This comprehensive database offered by CareerOneStop.org is searchable by industry, occupation, location, and keyword: https://www.careerinfonet.org/select_occupation.asp?next=occ_rep

2. ReferenceUSA.com: This resource is available in most libraries, which allows you to access it from home using your library card and PIN number. Companies can be searched by name, industry, region, sales volume and other specific criteria: www.referenceusa.com

3. Inc. 5000: This is a list of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. Considering that large corporations are usually the first to have massive layoffs in troubled economic times, these smaller, privately-held companies will allow you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2016/

4. Regional business journals: These often overlooked publications provide a wealth of information about what’s new in companies within your local area, which will expand your scope of employers beyond what you’ve seen on job boards. To find a regional business journal in your area, check out: http://newslink.org/biznews.html. (Side note: There’s usually an annual fee for print publications, but many offer free, abridged online versions.)  

5. LinkedIn: Scan through your LinkedIn contacts to see where they are employed and where they previously worked. You’ll get more ideas for target companies, while setting a foundation for future networking. If certain companies appeal to you, add them to your list. Then, consider reaching out to your contacts for referral meetings, networking conversations, or informational interviews, to get a “feel” for what it’s like to work in those companies, as well as for possible connections to hiring managers.

When you have your list together, you can also use it to create targeted direct mail campaigns or to make outreach calls to hiring managers. One of my CPA clients compiled a list of small accounting firms in her area, sent a letter of interest to each one, and made follow-up phone calls to these firms’ managing partners. This effort landed her a job just in time for the January tax season!

Whichever way you plan to use your target list, you’ll have an effective and practical alternative to relying on Internet job boards or recruiters. 

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2017 All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com