Kick-Start Your Job Search 2016: Making a Target Employer List

Making a Target Employer ListFrom May 26th – July 2nd, we are dishing up some savvy tips for job seekers from all backgrounds that will have you ready to conquer the job market with confidence, or accepting an offer for a coveted job. School may be out, but neteffects’ Kick-Start Your Job Search 2016 Summer Session is in!

If you’re just joining us, you’ll have a bit of catching up to do at your own pace. In lesson 1, we covered Professional Reputation Management with two easy assignments that will get your online life in order and ready for a job search. You can check out that post here.

In lesson 2, we dove into ways to present your professional profile beyond the typical resume that will have hiring managers and recruiters approaching you. You can check out the Beyond the Resume lesson here. There are two assignments in last week’s lesson to complete in addition to reading the post.

In this week’s lesson, we’re going to go over making a target employer list of the companies that you’d want to work for. You’ll do some self-reflecting to help put you on track to finding the right employment for you, learn how and why you should construct a target list and what to include.

Kick-Start Your Job Search Lesson 3: Making a Target Employer List

Making a Target Employer List – Begin With The End In Mind

Before you begin the actual construction of your target employer list, it’s helpful to begin with the end in mind – what you don’t want in your next job and of course, what you do. This information will come from doing some self- reflection.

Why is it important to do this?

As we age, we form a list of likes/dislikes and begin to get to know ourselves better, and what works for us and our unique personalities and skills and what doesn’t. This is the time for some real “pie in the sky” thinking. Take the opportunity to reinvest in YOU and YOUR HAPPINESS by figuring out what the next chapter could look like. Nothing is too crazy.

Ask yourself the following questions to help set some parameters before making your list:

What kind of environment do you see yourself working in? Is it an office in a building or a virtual office (working from a home office), are you outdoors, or working at a science lab or retailer? What does your environment look like?  

What type of company do you want to work for? Is it a new business such as a startup, a large company, the government, a not-for-profit or something else? Is it family run or are there shareholders? What industry are they in?

What do you want to spend your day doing – are you sitting at your desk and working alone, spending your time on your feet and fairly active, or a combo of the two and collaborating with others? Or, do you envision something else? What sort of work fills your time?

What will you wear to this job? Do you see yourself dressing up for work each day, wearing something casual, or an outfit that a good balance of two and pulled together? How do you see yourself dressing each day – is that how you want to present yourself and do you feel confident and productive when dressed that way?

How about the location? Are you willing to relocate if paid to do so, or would you go on your own for the adventure? Are you bound to a certain geographic region or would you and could you move out of the city, the state, or the country? Where is your ideal location? Near the coast, close to nature, an urban metropolitan area, or something else?

What are your personal beliefs and how does it impact your work? Would you work for a company that does something as part of their business that you’d be opposed to? Would you be comfortable working for a company who tests products on animals? Or one that is linked to controversial environmental practices? How about one that aggregates customer data a sells it? What about a company that has been linked to scandal in the past – filing for government bailouts, issuing predatory loans, or something else?

What transferable skills do I have that any employer can find value in? What are the titles of some of the roles that interest me? What additional skills or training do I need to make the transition into a new job completely outside of my current line of work?

Homework assignment: answer the above questions and jot your answers down. There are numerous possible answers. Whittle away and get down to what really works well for you. Nothing is off-limits. Circle any reoccurring themes or special considerations. You will refer back to this information later. 

Making a Target Employer List – Construction

You can make your list easily in this free tool from Google called Google Sheets. If you already have a Gmail account, it will be easy to get started. If not, you’ll need to set up an account. You can also use another program such as Excel to construct your list.

You’ll want to include the following information categories at the top of your list:

Organization Name | Street Address | Website URL | What They Do | Contact | Activity

The first three category items are self-explanatory. For the “What They Do” category, this should be a quick reminder to you of the space they’re in- example: Cog Maker. The “Contact” category will be the name or names of the people you know there, or who you can find through further research. These individuals are the ones that you will be sending your cover letter and resume to and the ones who may have a say in hiring you or passing your information along to those who do. And finally, the “Activity” category is where you will include notes on your activity such as sending an email, or submitting an online application, etc.

Homework assignment: build your target list template complete with the above listed categories

Making a Target Employer List – Deciding Who To Add

There are numerous ways to help you find potential employers to include on your list. The first and most obvious being to browse job boards like Indeed or SimplyHired and search for target employers based on the open jobs they have that match the job title you’ve searched for. LinkedIn also has a job search option available to its registered users. When you conduct a search using these methods, you’ll see the names of companies you’ve never heard of before and with an easy cross-search on Google, you can easily look them up to learn more about them.

However, there are jobs that never make their way to the big job boards or on LinkedIn. So what should you do if you don’t see an open position listed that matches the title or skills that you have? This is where doing a LinkedIn “company” search can come in handy as will Google.

If you type in “Technology Company” in LinkedIn and specify a geographical location, you’ll get a list of every technology company that has a company page and lists its address within your search criteria. Google performs the same way. If you want to cast a wider net, you can leave off the geographical location and see what comes up and begin to sort from there.

This is where pulling from your answers to the questions you’ve listed above can help you narrow things down a bit. Let’s say you want to work remotely. By including this information in your keyword search, you’ll be able to filter your search even more and identify employers who have a team that works remote. If you’ve searched on Google, you’ll also pull up the information on other websites that aggregate data based around that criteria as well.

Another way to learn about potential employers is to review the business or industry trade publications and see what names are mentioned. You can also ask friends and family whom they think you should consider and ask them to ask the people they know. You’ll likely get back a long list of companies for you to consider.

And finally, even if an employer doesn’t have a position posted on their company careers page that matches your skills, you SHOULD still include them on your list! Companies can and do create jobs for talented individuals who can demonstrate to them where they can add value

Homework assignment: build a target list of at least 50 employers who meet at least your geographical requirements.

Be sure to join us for next week’s lesson as we cover Researching Employers.