The Job Seekers’ Guide to Building a Target Company List

Searching for a job can be incredibly overwhelming, not to mention tedious and time-consuming. While it may be tempting to send a generalized resume to various companies in what seems like an honest effort to broaden your options as much as possible, this isn’t always a logically sound decision. In fact, marketing yourself in overly broad terms often makes you less attractive to employers who are typically looking for candidates who possess a specific skills set. If you know what you’re searching for, you can create your resume and online profiles to match those traits. This will make you a more marketable candidate in the eyes of potential employers.

Target Company List - Woman smiling at bulletin board

In order to do this effectively, however, you need to build a target company list, or an inventory of prospective employers who you feel would be a good match for your skills, talents, and cultural preferences. Here, we outline how to create a target company list that will increase your efficacy in finding the career you desire.

1.  Think about your dream companies.

Consider the companies you could work for if your options were limitless. Then, think about why you would like those companies. While your dream company may not currently be realistic, you can find others that fit those same traits. When doing this, look at your company’s competitors or affiliate companies, anybody who may have similar attributes to what it is you’re looking for. Then, do the same for these other companies. You have now created an extensive network of companies that have at least some of the features that you find desirable in a new position. You can also seek out major publications and navigate through their lists of top companies to work for.

2.  Utilize search engines and trusted people in your inner circle to determine what companies may be hiring.

Look at job board sites to search for companies hiring for your desired position. Ask friends, previous colleagues, and anyone with any knowledge about companies in your desired field.

3.  Keep networking.

Networking may be one of your best resources. Search for conferences within your desired field. If you can attend one, this will be particularly beneficial toward making necessary connections; however, if attending the conference isn’t feasible, even scanning their website can offer useful information. You can also join online job lead groups and examine industry-based blogs. Sometimes these blogs will be run by a specific corporation and you can be privy to new opportunities and to insights about the company culture. Otherwise, it is still a good way to make connections in your field. Many people also utilize their alumni connections.

4.  Pay attention to your surroundings.

Take a look at the companies near you, geographically. The internet is an excellent tool, but if you’re looking for a company in the vicinity of your home, it helps to go out and do some of the searching yourself. Additionally, try taking stock of your daily activities and the companies who make that possible. They could also make it onto your list of target employees.

5.  Begin to narrow down your options.

Now that you have given yourself an abundance of possibilities, it’s time to narrow them down. The most obvious place to begin is to reduce your search based on location. Would you be willing to relocate? If so, then where? If not, you will need to condense your search to your immediate area. It’s also time to do more extensive research for each company on your list. You need to look at characteristics such as company size, products and services provided, current company challenges, corporate culture, how the company is structured, and the latest trends within that specific industry.

6.  Determine exactly how you will benefit the companies on your list.

Had you chosen to go broad and send your resume to every company in your area, you would not be able to determine how best to serve the companies to which you are applying. Now, with a tailored list, you can present yourself in the best-qualified light. Extensively research each company to determine how you are uniquely positioned to serve them. What are their needs? How can you craft your employment profiles, cover letters, and resumes to show that you will meet those needs?

7.  Try to connect with those in charge.

If you can find a way to present yourself directly to the company’s decision makers, then do so. This will prove more beneficial than going through an often tedious HR process.

8.  Be prepared.

Now that you’ve performed the necessary research to narrow down your list of target companies, you need to ensure your preparedness before officially reaching out to them. Be ready to display your knowledge and ask suitable questions.

Target Company List - Handwriting List on paper

Developing a well-researched list of target companies will make your job search more efficient, and will also help you avoid settling for a career that is a poor fit for your own employment preferences. Targeting the right companies will help you properly market and present yourself and your specializations to the best potential employers.


Fred Coon, CEO 

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