Successful salespeople target specific clients by developing a prospects list of companies or individuals. As a job seeker, you will be far more successful if you think and act more like a salesperson. YOU are the product…and, you are also the product being sold. One critical question you have to ask yourself is, “Who are my prospective employers…ones who are of the right size, in the right industry sector(s), having needs for someone like me, operating in my desired geographic area?”
If you are actively seeking to find a better job or intending to do so within the next year, it is more important than ever that you research potential employers and bosses. Why? Because, unfortunately, many companies continue to overload their workers rather than expand hiring, retain poor managers and nearsighted executive leaders rather than replace them, and fail to respond to changes in their markets rather than take positive action that would benefit their entire workforce. You must research employers in advance of accepting new employment in order to increase your odds of finding those exceptional employers where you can thrive and be properly rewarded for your contributions. Not to mention avoiding the bad apples where you are likely to be underpaid or underappreciated.
In my career consulting practice, I have found that a targeted list of employers is a valuable tool for job seekers. Clients use such lists during their networking to focus people into the industries, sizes of companies, geographic locations, etc., that they desire. This helps them get more and better referrals in their areas of interest and it also generates names of other desirable companies that they may not have otherwise identified. As I mention in Chapter 9 of my book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!),
When you are conducting an active job search, you can set yourself apart from the average career seeker and find a job faster with a customied list of 75-100 target employers. If you are happy in your current job, it would still be a good strategy to occasionally meet with peers in such companies to broaden your industry relationships…When actively job hunting, sharing your target employers list with your networking contacts can gain you many useful personal introductions to desirable contacts.
Before computers and the internet, compiling such a list was a laborious manual task and much of the printed informational resources were one to two years out of date. Today, however, the internet allows you to research and identify desirable employers in a reasonably efficient manner. I can normally create a list of several hundred potential prospect in about an hour. Here are three of the web sites mentioned in my book, where you can research and identify desirable employers:
www.referenceusa.com, which is available at many public and university libraries (check with yours)
www.finance.yahoo.com, which provides financial performance information
www.glassdoor.com, which compiles employee and job interview feedback
Utilizing these and similar resources will allow you to compile a fairly well researched list of employers of interest. I say “fairly well” because you will need to sanity check employers with current and former employees. (A current client checked out her prospective boss last week and turned down a $25,000 increase.) LinkedIn is a great resource for this because you can search for people by current or former employer name. Connecting with current and former employees can be especially valuable when job interviewing because they can give you accurate feedback on company cultures, job compensation, and bosses.
A targeted list of potential employers can be one of your most productive job search tools. Try using it in your networking meetings to focus your referrals and I am sure you will see better results.
Best wishes for your success!
Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).