Creating a Target List of Companies

How to Find Companies to Work For

By Alison Doyle, Guide

If you don't have a target list of companies - a short list of employers you would be thrilled to work for - it's a good idea to research company information and create a list of companies to target in your job search. All the information you need is available on the web, and it's easy to find detailed information about potential employers online.

Take the Time to Target Companies

It's important to take the time to research companies. You're wasting time and energy if you just apply for any job opening you find, even though you might feel like you're accomplishing something by sending out tons of resumes.

The time you spend upfront investigating companies will benefit you in the long run, because you won't be spending time and energy applying to companies that aren't a good fit. Instead, you will be applying for jobs at companies where you would like to work.

Why Matchmaking Matters

When the company isn't the right fit for your skills, qualifications and goals, there isn't much point in pursuing opportunities there - even in a down job market. Why not? Because, in the long run, the job probably isn't going to work out for you - or for the company. Zappos, as an example that could be considered a bit extreme, offers new hires a $2000 bonus if they quit. The logic is that those who aren't keyed into the Zappos culture will take the bonus (only 2% - 3% accept it) and those that stay will really want the job, because they are a good match for the company.

If the company is a good match, it makes sense to target it as one of your employment goals. You will know that the company has the type of jobs you're looking for. You'll know that the employer's culture and mission match what you're seeking. And you'll also be able to connect with people at the company who can help you secure an interview and give you a reference.

Choosing Companies

How do you find companies that are a good match? There are web sites with lists of the best companies to work for.Fortune, for example, ranks companies by a variety of criteria, including the 100 best companies, the 500 top companies, blue ribbon companies, most admired companies, best small companies, and so on.

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an ideal resource for finding local companies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a directory you can search to find your local Chamber of Commerce. Then visit the Chamber's web site to see if there is a directory of local companies.

Professional associations typically have lists of member companies. Weddles has a directory of associations list by industry. Use it to find member companies at associations in your career field and/or industry.

Finding Company Information

Once you've found companies to target, the next step is to research the company to verify that it is, in fact, a good match.

  • Use LinkedIn's companies section as a tool to find company information. Search by keyword or browse industry information. You'll be able see your connections at the company, new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies, and company statistics.
  • Locate employers on VisualCV in your industry or preferred location by using the search feature on the site. You can navigate through the 700+ employers and recruiters much faster by focusing in on your industry or location.
  • Visit You'll find company reviews, ratings, salaries, CEO approval rating, competitors, content providers, and more company information.
  • ReferenceUSA¬† usually available at public libraries

Finding Job Listings

Once you have found companies you're interested in, start checking out job opportunities. Visit the company web site to review open positions. Most companies have an employment section with current job openings, and you may be able to apply directly online.

Job search engine LinkUp searches only company sites, so it's an excellent resource for finding jobs at specific employers.

Also, search the other job search engines by company name to find additional job postings.

Finding Contacts

Next, you need to find contacts at the company who can help you get a foot in the door. The LinkedIn company pages I mentioned will show you your contacts at the company. Outreach to them letting them know of your interest and asking if they can help.

Search Facebook Groups by company name to see if there is a Group for your target company. Ford Motor Company, for example, has a group for people who work, have worked, or will work for Ford.

Are you are college graduate? Check with your career services office or alumni office and inquire if there is a database of alumni you can get in touch with. Many college and universities have alumni and parents who have volunteered to help with career networking.

Twellow is a site you can use to search for contacts on Twitter. Using Zappos as an example again, when I searched Twellow for Zappos, I found 10 pages of contacts, including the CEO and COO.