Creating Your Target Company List


Eric Handler offers some guidelines for the crafting of your target company list, a necessity in your job search.

Creating your target company list is one of the most important and exciting aspects of your job search. A target company is simple a company that you have targeted where you are potentially interested in working. Developing a strong target company list will help you focus your efforts and be more productive in your search.  To be most effective, you will want to start with a list of between 30-50 companies.

Defining your Target Company criteria

You start the process considering your background, experience, and interests. Then, you research each company to determine if it’s the right for you.  Making some initial decisions about your target company criteria can help streamline your search.  Take time to consider what you are really looking for in your next job.  Consider your past, what you liked and didn’t like in your previous role and company.  Think about your career goals and objectives.  Consider the personal factors that relate to lifestyle and family considerations.  Here is a quick list of general criteria that can help you define your targets.

Geographic Location

  • Local, national, or international –decide whether or not you are open to relocation
  • Personal commute preferences

Industry Segmentation

  • Healthcare, Financial Services, Information Technology, etc. –you are better off if you can stay in the same industry

Type of Organization

  • Technology start-up, Manufacturing, Non-Profit

Company Size

  • Revenue and # of employees
  • Single location or multiples locations

Methods to develop your list

Once you have decided on your selection criteria there are a number of excellent ways to discover companies to add to your target list. Here are some of the most commonly used methods.

Hit the Library– One of the most cost effective job search resources is the public library. That’s right, even in the Internet age, go to your local library and ask the librarian about resources that list companies in your area.  Most public libraries subscribe to Reference USA, which provides a comprehensive database of companies.  Libraries also subscribe to local and regional business publications that can help you conduct research on target companies.

Drive Around– A great way to find hidden companies is to simply get out there and explore your own neighborhood.  People overlook the importance of this method, but this is a really helpful technique, especially if geographical preference is high on your list of considerations. If you are really interested in working close to home, mark off a 5-10 mile radius around your home, and go for a drive and get lost.  Make sure to discover office parks and high-rise buildings and get out of your car and check the building directories for companies of interest.

Utilize your network–Look through your contact list and review the companies where your contacts work for potential target companies.  You will continue to grow your target company list over time and asking your circle of influence for recommendations can be very effective.

Professional Associations– Identify three professional associations to target for networking.  Go to these organization’s websites and search for people, companies, and sponsors that are active participants of the associations.  Research these companies and filter them by the criteria you have created.

Online research

There are many online resources that can help you build your target company list.  Free is good, so take full advantage of free resources such as search engines. Here is a list of great resources:

  • LinkedIn.com
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce
  • ReferenceUSA.com
  • Hoovers.com
  • Jigsaw.com

A great target company list is the starting point of successful search.  Once you have identified a list of 10-15 target companies, continue your research and find their competitors.  This can be a fast way to grow your list exponentially to create that list of 30-50 company’s. As you progress in your search, you will continually discover new companies to add to your list.


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