Monday, November 3, 2014

Why and How to Work a Target Company List

If you are searching for a new job, either because you are without one or because you are one of the 73+% of people who are disengaged in their current jobs, then you need to have a list of five to ten target companies you strongly want to work for.


Many job seekers have been told they need target companies but may not have been told what to do with them. This very comprehensive article will explain the purpose of a target company list as well as how to use it.

Why Target Specific Companies


Let us dispel a common misconception up front. By having a target company list does not mean you would not take a job with another company. If the job comes along, of course consider it.


There are two statistics that too many job seekers do not know about that impact their chances of success. First, job seekers have a 50 times great chance of landing a job with an employee connection. Second, the majority of jobs (up to 85%) are NOT posted on-line; this is referred to as the “hidden job market”. Therefore, job seekers need to get out and seek opportunities. If you have to work to get a job, it might as well be for the 5-10 companies that are your “oh my gosh, I’d love to work for…” companies or as one client calls them “OMG’s”.  Once you see below what it takes to “work” these companies, you will understand why there should not be more than ten companies on your list.


How to Identify Your Target Companies


Each job seeker looks for different things in the companies they want to work for. Some people want a reasonable commute. Some people favor a company with a great reputation. Other people choose small companies, while others prefer large companies.


Larger metropolitan areas have a business paper that publishes an annual Book of Lists. (You can conduct an internet search to see if your area has one). It is a great resource for getting lists of fabulous companies in your region you may not even know about.  


Another great, free tool for identifying companies is on online database available at [See for how to use].

How to Work Your Target Company List


One way you will use your target company list is to see who you know, or who you know who knows, someone that works there. You will also use the list to see what groups and associations that people who work in your target companies belong to and attend. The goal is to come alongside and meet employees of your target companies so they get to know, like, then trust you and help you get into the company.


Finding People


Using LinkedIn, search people who work for that company. In the drop box to the left of the Search field at the top of the LinkedIn screen, select the People option and then click the Advanced option on the right of the Search box without entering anything into the field.


In the subsequent search criteria fields, enter the company name in the Company field and select the Current option under the Company field.


In the Postal Code field, enter your local postal code (also known as zip code), in the Within box select a distance that will include your target area, then click the Search button.


The resulting list are people you (1st level connections) or someone you know knows (2nd level connections) or people in groups you belong to.


 For second level connections, click the name of the contact and on the right side of their profile you will see in the section titled How You're Connected the person in your network who is the connection to that person. If you know the intermediate contact well, you can request an introduction to the person in your target company whether using the LinkedIn Get Introduction option or via e-mail.

Finding Groups


Whether you know the person or not, and whether or not you get an introduction, you can use LinkedIn to find a way to “come alongside of them” in person at association meetings (this is the best method) or in LinkedIn groups.


For the 1st and 2nd level people who work at your target companies and are in your field or one related to it, look at the Groups section in their individual profiles.  Make note of the Groups they belong to.


A rule of thumb for knowing if a LinkedIn group is just a LinkedIn group or if it has “in person” meetings as well is the group’s name. If there is a city or state mentioned in the group’s name then the group may have an “in person” component as well. Let me give an example. Say you are in the field of Human Resources. If someone belongs to SHRM-Atlanta (Society for Human Resource Management) , then it is very likely there are local meetings in Atlanta where you can meet people from your target companies.


Once you find groups that your target company contacts belong to, join and participate in both the LinkedIn and in-person groups.


Participating in Groups – LinkedIn


There are multiple purposes for participating in LinkedIn groups. Participating in LinkedIn groups can grow your knowledge of your industry, increase your visibility, and expand your network, all which increase your chances of landing a job you want.


Many people prefer to ease into participating in LinkedIn groups. The first step is to read the articles and discussions being posted by others in these groups and if you enjoy the information, “Like” the discussion. By liking the discussion, the person who posted the discussion will receive an e-mail with your name saying you liked their discussion.


The next step is to comment on a discussion. Understand that these comments should be well written; what you write reflects on you. Again an e-mail will be sent to the person who posted the discussion, as well as those who commented on the discussion before you, with your name along with your comments.


The ultimate step is to post your own discussion. You do not have to write your own original content; you can post a link to an article relevant to the group that someone else wrote (always give credit to the source) and invite comments. This can establish you as a subject matter expert.


Being active on LinkedIn will increase interest in you which you will see in the increased number of those who have viewed your profile.

Participating in Groups – In Person


Remember that people have a 50 times greater chance of landing a job with an employee connection. But most people will only help the job seeker if they know them. One of the best ways to get to know people is networking in person. The most productive networking is targeted networking which is going to the industry networking groups that people in your target companies frequent.


It is not considered networking if you just attend events; you must participate at these events. It is also not networking if it is only about you.


There are some good books that teach how to network and a “must read” in conjunction with any other resource is about Netweaving (Bob Littel). The point of Netweaving is to put others needs before your own, to help others before they help you, and to not take from others more than you give. Do not go to networking meeting just to see who can help you – that is not networking.

What Else to do With Target Companies


There are other ways a job seeker can use the list of 5 -10 companies they would really like to work for.


  1. Follow your target companies on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Companies are posting important news and information (even jobs) on social media. You want to know that information in a timely fashion.


  1. Your network of family, friends, and others want to help you in your job search. You may have told them what you want – the truth is that memory does not get better with age. Instead of asking them to remember what you are looking for, give them a Marketing Plan or what coach Judi Adams renamed the Networking Guide because it more clearly communicates the purpose for it – it is a guide for your network. For more information on the Networking Guide go to


  1. Set Google Alerts on your target companies. Companies usually only publish information that creates a positive spin on what they are doing. Google can find much more on the internet about your target companies than what the company wants you to find. You could repeatedly Google the companies but it makes more sense to put Google to work.  Set a Google Alert for each of your target companies so you can see what Google find when it finds it. To set a Google Alert, Google the term “Google Alert” and follow the prompts. Google will send you an e-mail with the subject line of “Google Alert” and the criteria you set. Then read the e-mails so you are on top of breaking information.



If you are searching for a job, leverage the power of a target company list to increase your chances of success.



1 comment:

  1. I think finding people/contacts is the hardest! It needs careful attention and a long-term view; not just a quick tit for tat thing!

    Thanks for the post.