Build Your Employer Target List

Learn how to find prospective employers

Businesswoman working at laptop
Getty Images/Sam Edwards

As you continue your job search, it is a good idea to have an employer target list. What's that? A target list is a list of companies that you would love to work for.

These may be companies that tend to offer jobs that fit your interests, organizations that have the company culture you desire, and/or organizations with a mission you believe in. They are employers you would love to work for, given the opportunity.

A Target List Saves You Time

Why make a list? With a target list in hand, you will actually save yourself time in your job search. Even if it feels productive to apply to every job opening you come across, you are actually wasting your time and energy. Instead, you should apply only to jobs at companies that you believe are a good fit for you.

There is no need to waste your time applying and interviewing for jobs that do not match your qualifications and/or goals. Even if you accept a job at a company that is not right for you, chances are that you will not want to stay there very long.

It is better to take the time to find your ideal companies and apply to jobs there to find a long-lasting job that you love.

Creating Your Target List

Below are several ways to create your target list.

Search for "Best Company" Lists

Many websites list the best companies to work for in a variety of different industries. For example, Fortune ranks companies in a variety of categories, including the Fortune 100, Fortune 500, and Fortune 1000 (based on gross revenue), the best small companies, the best companies for millennials, and more. Glassdoor and Forbes also offer lists of top companies. Look through the lists that match your interests, read the descriptions of each company, and write down the companies that fit your industry interests and your ideal company culture.

Locate Your Chamber of Commerce

Your local chamber of commerce should have a list of local companies. Some chambers of commerce have job listings online, so check those if they are available.

Join Professional Associations

If you belong to any professional associations, look on their websites to find a list of member companies. If you do not belong to any associations, review this directory of associations listed by state, category, and type. Find associations in your industry, and see if you can access each association’s list of companies.

Browse LinkedIn

If you have any contacts who work in your field, look at their LinkedIn profiles (or other social media profiles) to see where they work. Similarly, look at members of LinkedIn groups who are related to your industry, and see where they are working.

Check Within Your Network

Talk to your friends, neighbors, family, and business and professional connections. Where do they work? Do any of those organizations sound like a good fit? If they do, ask about job openings or even the possibility of a referral.

Narrow Your List

Once you have created a list through these methods, it is time to narrow your list to include only the companies that are truly a perfect or near-perfect fit. To do this, you will need to research the companies on your list.

First, visit each company’s website. Read each company’s mission statement and any other information the site may have about the work environment, the people the company hires, and anything else you can learn about the company culture.

You can also visit LinkedIn’s Companies section to find company information. This section provides information on each company culture, as well as job openings and connections you have at each company. Glassdoor is also a good site for reading company reviews, ratings, salary information, and more.

Based on this information, cross out any companies on your list that are not a strong fit.

Expand Your List One More Time

If you feel that your list is now too short, or that it only contains extremely well-known companies, consider expanding your list a bit. Look on LinkedIn’s Companies section or on Glassdoor to find some of the organizations that are competing against the organizations on your list.

Research these companies, and if any of them seem like a good fit, add them to the list.

The Final List

Ultimately, these steps should result in a list of 10 - 20 companies that you will proceed to target in your job search. As you continue to job search, feel free to remove or add companies as you get a better feel for the type of organization you would like to work for.