Most job seekers overlook targeting their top companies as a way to increase their potential job opportunities and often go straight to online job boards as their exclusive source. I’m not here to tell you to disregard online job boards, because they do have their use, but rather to recommend adding targeting your top companies to your overall search strategy. Simply put, a target company is a company that you would want to work for. The strategy here is to create a list with your top companies, then go after them by networking with the right people. Forbes recently surveyed job seekers to find out how they landed their current positions. Networking was the overwhelming leader with more than 42%. A distant second was internet job boards which accounted for 25% of the way people find jobs. This suggests that you would be better off adding targeting your top companies to your search strategy. I was recently working with a job seeker who was not hearing back from any jobs he applied to and needed a different strategy. Through networking, he found out that the top company he had been applying to was going to have an open house. At the event, he met an internal recruiter who decided to bring him in for an interview and subsequently offered him a position. This goes to show that by targeting your top companies, you can uncover critical networking opportunities which may lead to a job. In this article, we’ll focus on finding your top companies, researching your top companies, and finally, finding and using contacts to get your foot in the door.
If you know where to look, finding your top companies isn’t difficult. The first method is to consider people that you know and the companies they work for (using LinkedIn is a great resource for this). You could also ask friends, work associates, or recruiters what resources they would suggest you use. The best way to get information about your top company is to talk to the people you know. You’ll get firsthand information on what it’s like to work for that company and decide if it’s an organization you want to add to your list.
If that doesn’t yield any results, find top companies through internet resources. Association websites are valuable resources that provide lists of participating member companies. The American Society of Association Executives (asaecenter.org) is the voice of the association profession with more than 22,000 members. This site enables you to search all associations by industry. You could also use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find top companies. There are a number of websites that have lists of great organizations and give you an idea of top companies to target. For example, Forbes (forbes.com/lists/) ranks companies by yearly revenue, size, and/or employee satisfaction. Here are some other useful sites:
Once a list of your top companies is created, start researching these companies for TOP issues. TOP issues are Trends, Opportunities, and Problems/Projects. Researching your target companies is an important step in the process so you can stay on their radar by identifying solutions to their TOP issues. One way to collect this information is to set up Google Alerts on your top companies. You can set up these alerts for any relevant news or information that you can leverage when approaching your top companies. You may also want to research social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Some other great resources for accessing TOP issues are:
Now that you have compiled the TOP issues, start identifying the internal and external contacts within your top companies. Internal contacts are contacts that work for the target company and external contacts are people that know someone within the target company. Gather a list of your internal and external contacts’ email addresses and phone numbers. Remember: there are several ways you can collect contact information. First, check with people you know such as your family, friends, or past co-workers. If that doesn’t work, take advantage of social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. For Example, visit the company pages on LinkedIn to see who you are connected with. This helps determine if you have any 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree contacts inside the company and gives you an easy platform for contacting those people. Facebook allows you to view the company page as well as see if your top company has any groups in which you can interact. Finally, consider using Twellow.com. Twellow.com is a searchable directory of people by area of expertise, profession, or other attributes listed in their personal profiles on Twitter. For example, using Pfizer as a keyword provides you with a list of multiple Pfizer employees with active Twitter accounts including the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition and other recruiters.
Be sure to have several things ready before you make contact: the TOP issues or key topics are you planning to bring up, your strategy or approach, and your suggested solution or service. One strategy for approaching your contacts is to ask a peer if they’d be willing to introduce you to your intended contact. For example, ask your colleague if they’d be willing to help you connect with Joe at your target company because you think it would be mutually beneficial for the two of you to meet. Or, plan on your own to meet your contact in a relaxed setting such as a trade show or conference. You could attempt to set up something ahead of time or introduce yourself at the event itself.
No matter where you are in your job search, start targeting your top companies now if you haven’t already. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but following the advice in this article will help you understand how effectively targeting your top companies can be a powerful tool in your job search.