When you’re in a job search, it’s important to be crystal clear about the kinds of companies you’d like to work for. Once you have gained this clarity, you’ll want to research and identify the names of the companies that meet your search criteria. Your goal will be to “infiltrate” these companies through your network, and speak to the hiring managers (NOT the Human Resources department). Ultimately, this process will help you decide which company you want to hire as your employer!

Notice that this strategy is the opposite of what most job-seekers do – which is to look for open positions, and apply for any opportunities that seem remotely aligned with their professional background. Creating a Target Company List requires that you have “laser-focus” on the kinds of organizations you most want to join.

Start by selecting broad industry categories where your skills, experiences, and interests would be a good fit. Examples would be Healthcare, Professional Services or Consumer Products. You’ll gather as much information on the selected organizations as you can and network your way in. The sooner you target specific employers, the sooner you’ll get to meet decision makers at these firms (yes, even if they claim they’re not hiring.)

The end product will be a list of 35 to 50 company names on one page, segmented into distinct categories or industries. You should share your Target Company List at every networking meeting (along with your Professional Biography), which will help your networking partner to help you. Reviewing the document together “jogs the memory” of the other person, so he or she will give you names and contact information of people they know within your targeted companies. This means that you’ll have “warm referrals” into your targeted companies, rather than having to rely on “cold calls.”

Of course, this list will develop and change as you go through the networking process, and as you learn more about the marketplace. But try not to get distracted or sidetracked by other companies that are not on your list. When the job market is tight and the headlines are screaming about dire economic conditions, it may be challenging to focus exclusively on the firms on your Target Company List. While this approach may seem counter-intuitive, that’s exactly how successful people get jobs when no one’s hiring.

Here are some resources to begin researching your target companies:

* Friends, family, colleagues, neighbors who might know the “inside scoop” at some of your target companies
* Networking to find current or past employees at your target companies, and hearing “firsthand” what the organization is really like
* Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Great Places to Work in America, or www.greatplacetowork.com
* Business articles in your local daily newspaper’s business section
* Your local edition of American City Business Journals’ “Book of Lists” (www.bizjournals.com)
* Social networking web sites that connect professionals and offer company information, such as LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com)
* Your local Chambers of Commerce and trade associations, or industry organizations that your target companies may be a member of
* Web sites and downloadable annual reports of your target companies
* Use Google (www.google.com) to do a search on the company and its executives, and see what kinds of articles and stories come-up
* Fee-based databases that you may access for free at your local public library, including Hoover’s, Dun & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Directory, Vault.com, ReferenceUSA.com, OneSource.com, etc.

The mere fact that you have a Target Company List demonstrates that you are highly professional and organized, and that you’ve “done your homework.” It also distinguishes you from other job-seekers, because you’re working with a proven system that generates great job search results!

Copyright © 2010, Career Potential, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Potential, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a nationally-known Career Expert and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.” Download your free Special Report, “10 Vital Strategies to Maximize Your Career Success” at www.careerpotential.com.

Author's Bio: 

Ford R. Myers is President of Career Potential, LLC. Since 1992, he has been providing professional services in career consulting and executive coaching. After counseling thousands of individuals on their careers, Ford drew from his diverse experience to create Career Potential – a powerful new approach to career management.