In the hopes of casting as wide a net as possible, many job seekers resist the notion of creating a list of companies to target. I am of the opinion, however, that by understanding your target audience and a company’s unique pain points, you can address them spot on and position yourself as a candidate ideally suited to solve them!
Furthermore, the research involved in creating a list of companies to target will help you to screen out those companies that aren’t the greatest fit for your skills, values and goals.
Equally important, you can use the list you’ve developed to help figure out who you know, who you need to know and who can give you an inside track regarding roles of interest within the company.
A 6-Step Roadmap for Creating a List of Companies to Target
This 6-point roadmap can help you in creating a list of companies to target, which will hopefully fast-track your job search and help you land at a place that suits you!
#1 Narrow Down Industry, Location and Role
Many executives, having been in the workforce for so long, are more than capable of holding many titles and working across industries. Even more are open to moving for the right opportunity.
For the purposes of creating a list of targeted company, however, it helps to whittle down the scope. I suggest job seekers narrow it down to one or two locations and industries and one role or job function.
Also read: The New Rules of the Job Search
#2 Create a List
Perform “Best Of” or “Top 100” lists readily available through internet searches. Another avenue is to explore local Chambers of Commerce or Business Journals, who often have company directories. These are ideal resources for finding companies within a geographic location.
#3 Get the Scoop
Learn as much as you can about company history, financial health, products and services. If you can, set up informational interviews to chat with people who work in these companies to get a sense for the culture to see if you could picture yourself there and if it aligns with what you are looking for.
Be sure to check out reviews on websites like Glassdoor – while keeping in mind that people don’t usually write a review unless they feel super strongly – which means that many will likely come from haters.
Most companies have “About Us” sections on their websites that convey their corporate values and mission. Read them to see if their statements resonate with you, and then dig further to see if those who work there really live it.
#4 Tap Into Your Connections
Connections can be a close friend, an acquaintance of an acquaintance, or even someone who went to your alma mater years before or after you. Consider approaching all of them, ideally one at a time rather than en masse.
I also recommend checking out company pages on LinkedIn to identify if you have connections that work there.
#5 Find Contacts
Once you’ve exhausted your list of personal connections, the next step is to find contacts at a company to help you get your foot in the door.
Beyond LinkedIn, consider sleuthing on other social media sites. Facebook, for instance, is home to several groups of people who work or have worked at major companies. Twitter can also be a great source of info, as many accounts list their employer in their bio.
University alumni databases can also offer a treasure trove of information. To tap into this resource, I recommend contacting your career services or alumni office and performing a quick search on LinkedIn of fellow alum grads.
#6 Reaching Out
Be direct about what you’re asking for and what you’re looking for. If you are ruling a company in or out for list, it is OK to share that you are trying to get a feel for what the company is like.
Once you’ve created your list of companies and are targeting roles, vague requests for assistance like “let me know if anything comes your way” probably won’t yield a great ROI. Instead, consider these three approaches:
- Ask if they can connect you with a hiring manager.
- Ask them to provide you with the names of 3 people that would be helpful to speak with.
- If it exists, ask them if they can submit your resume via their company’s internal referral mechanism.