Are You Targeting Your Job Search?

BY DEBORAH BIDDLE, Talent Management Consultant

Searching for a new job, whether your career transition is planned or unexpected, often seems like a monumental task.  It’s tempting to jump right in and send out as many resumes as possible.  Slowing down and organizing yourself is a critical first step and taking the time to target your job search makes the seemingly overwhelming task manageable.

As a first step, identify the characteristics of an organization that are important to you in your next role.  Defining these criteria helps to narrow the list of possible companies and create your targets.  Your criteria will be unique to you, as it will include the factors that are most important to you.  Some examples of criteria to consider include:

  • Company size
  • Culture
  • Benefits
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Commute/travel

Once you’ve identified your key criteria, you’ll have the basis for evaluating companies and creating your target list.  However, this is only the beginning.

The next step is to consider how your skills and career goals match the needs of your target organizations.  Consider what you are passionate about, what kind of companies would allow you to pursue your interests, and what kind of work satisfies you.  Think through your problem-solving preference, i.e. people problems versus systems problems.  Determine your technology interests and how your target organizations use technology.  Take all of this into account when considering the organizational goals of your target companies and if you will be energized by working toward fulfilling the company’s mission.

Once you have completed the first two steps, you are ready to research potential companies and further define your list to target. This is an essential step to finding the right job.  It’s more efficient and strategic than sending out a resume for every job opening you come across.  The initial time spent to investigate companies pays off; it will allow you to use your time to apply only to companies who have met your criteria and for whom you want to work.  The objective of a targeted job search is not only to determine the best companies and industries for you, but also to solidify the types of positions you desire, and identify the qualifications your target companies want in candidates.

To develop your list of prospective employers, research companies who have met your criteria and create a database. The quickest and easiest way to gather the information you need is the through the internet.  Vast resources are available to help you.

The following list of resources is just a small grouping of the tools available to help you with targeting your job search.  An outplacement consultant can help you with strategies to verify and expand upon the resources listed below.

  1. OneSource Global Business Browser: Search for companies by geographical area, industry, company size, and other relevant criteria to find companies that match your needs.
  2. Google Search:  Search for people, products, and services within companies. This is a great way to find the contact information for the companies you choose to target.
  3. Google Alerts:  Use Google to send recently published data from your target companies directly to your email inbox. Use company names, decision-maker names, key words and phrases, and the target company’s products and services to set up the alerts.
  4. LinkedIn:  Follow the Company Profiles of your target companies as a way to locate important information, as well as search key words and browse industry data. Check personal profiles of key leaders and decision makers.  Join the LinkedIn Groups to which decision makers in your target companies belong.  Contribute and position yourself as a subject matter expert.  View your connections at the company, along with new hires, promotions, job posts, and company statistics. Liz Lynch, a smart-networking expert, suggests ways to use LinkedIn Company Profiles for a job search on the Personal Branding Blog, The Hidden Goldmine Within the LinkedIn Companies Tab.  LinkedIn can also be useful for networking into your target companies…but that is a topic for another post!
  5. Twitter:  Search for your target companies and key decision makers.  Follow, listen to, and retweet them regularly (Twitter Help and Strategies for Executive Job Search and Personal Branding).
  6. Forbes:  Use various categorized lists with links to detailed company data to narrow your company search and find companies that match your criteria.
  7. ZoomInfo:  Search people, companies, and industry keywords.
  8. Fortune 500:  Contains valuable information, including company CEOs (with contact information), revenues, profits, assets, market value.
  9. Glassdoor:  Contains job listings, salaries and employee reviews.
  10. Google Finance:  Includes real-time financial news, stock quotes, and key company statistics and summaries.
  11. IndeedSimplyHired and Linkup: Search job descriptions and open positions for your target companies. Find information to help you align your qualifications with the requirements for those companies.
  12. Libraries:  Seek out librarians, who are often research experts, to help you find the off-line resources and company information needed to aid your targeted career search.
  13. Chamber of Commerce:  Use the national directory to help you locate a local Chamber of Commerce with lists of local companies to target and research.
  14. Company Website Job Listings:  Review the job opportunities within target companies by visiting the employment or current openings sections.  Directly apply online.  You may also be able to set up job alerts.
  15. Facebook:  Check Facebook groups and Company Pages for your target companies.  Look to connect with current and former employees who you know.
  16. Twellow:  Search the people directory by profession, expertise, profession or other information listed on personal Twitter profiles.

Having the determination to target your job search efforts is important.  Matching your criteria, goals and qualifications with the companies you target focuses your search and helps you avoid precious time applying to jobs or companies that are not an ideal fit.

What resources have you used in your job search to define your target company list?