[07.23.09]
67 great comments!

How To Choose Your Target Companies

target companies, online social networking, social network service, creating a, networking profile, job hunting, job search, target corporation, target company, jobs seeker, target profile, social networking, business development, career networks, management, business, technology, career, profiles, targets, employment, profile, targetEveryone looking for a job should have a list of 10 target companies.  These are companies where you’d like to work if a position came open matching your skills and experience.  Not having this list puts you at a distinct disadvantage when networking.

You see, I may not remember everything about you.  But I am likely to remember a few of the companies you shared with me.  Why?  This is a very tangible bit of information.  And often when I ask “what are your objectives?” I get:

I’m looking for a sales position in a stable but growing company

What?

If this is your response, I will not remember it and I may not remember you based on this answer alone.

Better answer?

I am looking for a director level position in apparel sales based on the West Coast. My target companies include Nike, Under Armour, Adidas.

Now that I can work with.  And you can do a nice job reinforcing those objectives through the use of a few simple tools:

1. Hand me a networking business card. I created a really simple template for a networking business card that you can download and use starting today.  It’s called the Flashcard.

2. Hand me a one-sheet that highlights your skills, experience and accomplishments. And, yes, here’s another free template. It’s called the SoloSheet™ and it is a perfect one page bio for networking.


3. Ask to be added to my Watchlyst™.
This is a one page document I keep (and you should too) to help track the job objectives of those in my network looking for a job. You can learn about the Watchlyst so you can track job search objectives of others.

So to answer the question about choosing target companies, you have to identify the possibilities first.

Target Companies Task: 

Build a list of 100 companies.  Selection criteria?  (1) in your industry and (2) in your target geography.

Start with the ones you know. Determine whether they have an office/territory in your target geography. Get in your car and drive around key industrial areas and keep your eyes open for companies as you drive down the freeway (sounds funny, but it works).  Find others in your network who are targeting the same industry and ask for their list.  Use the internet, the local chamber of commerce or a local business journal.

Target Companies Task:

Shrink the list (50 companies) based on a few other factors. Criteria: (1) company size and (2) industry sector

Do you want to work for a really big company with a powerful brand and big budgets?  Or would you rather be a part of a younger, more nimble start-up?

Is there a segment of the industry that you like better?  Athletic apparel vs. outdoor?  Shoes vs. t-shirts?

Once complete, this new list of 25 or so will be your big target list.  These are the companies you are really feeling good about and want to share with others. And you are free to share this larger list with your close-in network.  But I have one more task for you.

Target Companies Task:

Reduce this new list to 10 target companies.  Criteria: (1) Name Recognition and (1) Culture

Why 10?  An easy number for people to swallow and a list you can quickly communicate to people.

I say name recognition because I think that helps.  If people in your network have never heard of any of these companies (especially the people not in your industry), they will be less likely to make the connection if they see a job advertised.

And culture is important.  Make sure that your top 10 represent a place you’d really like to work.  If you are really into casual Fridays or company picnics, find out where all that happens and put them in your top 10.

But what if my top 10 target companies have no jobs for me?

That’s OK.  Because while these are target companies, they are also examples of the types of companies where you’d like to work.  Any suggestions from your network with jobs from similar companies will be welcome, right?

So now you know how to choose them.  But how do you penetrate a target company?

Do you have any secrets to choosing target companies?  How did you do it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: | | | | | |
Categories: Finding New Job
  • I think your strategy is sound but the numbers are less important.
    Instead of looking for 100 companies, I would start with all relevant companies in the targeted geographical area(s). That might be more or it might be less than 100. If compilation of the list is exceedingly difficult for some reason, don’t waste time on it and begin paring once you think you have enough companies. You can always add later.

  • I think your strategy is sound but the numbers are less important.
    Instead of looking for 100 companies, I would start with all relevant companies in the targeted geographical area(s). That might be more or it might be less than 100. If compilation of the list is exceedingly difficult for some reason, don’t waste time on it and begin paring once you think you have enough companies. You can always add later.

  • Hey Jacob – Thanks for adding your thoughts here!
    The posts are inspired by my own job search experiences. And during my search, these numbers helped me to focus and pushed me to find a bigger list. But you are correct that there is nothing magical about them!

  • Hey Jacob – Thanks for adding your thoughts here!
    The posts are inspired by my own job search experiences. And during my search, these numbers helped me to focus and pushed me to find a bigger list. But you are correct that there is nothing magical about them!

  • dnemchick@eznet.net

    Excellent post Tim!
    This certainly gave new job seekers several important items to help them become successful networkers and job finders. In reply to Jacob’s comment about the numbers, yes, the (absolute) number of 100 is less important. However, I think your idea of volume is a good one. Just as in brainstorming, whenever generating ideas, it’s good to go for more rather than less at the start. It’s always easier to pare a list down afterward. If you start with only a few in the beginning, you run the risk of missing some important ones.

  • dnemchick@eznet.net

    Excellent post Tim!
    This certainly gave new job seekers several important items to help them become successful networkers and job finders. In reply to Jacob’s comment about the numbers, yes, the (absolute) number of 100 is less important. However, I think your idea of volume is a good one. Just as in brainstorming, whenever generating ideas, it’s good to go for more rather than less at the start. It’s always easier to pare a list down afterward. If you start with only a few in the beginning, you run the risk of missing some important ones.

  • Thanks Dave – I think we are in agreement that more is better to start. I’m with you! Jacob’s point, I think, was “don’t kill yourself on 100” if you struggle to get to 89. Makes sense.

  • Thanks Dave – I think we are in agreement that more is better to start. I’m with you! Jacob’s point, I think, was “don’t kill yourself on 100” if you struggle to get to 89. Makes sense.

  • To be effective, in an executive job search, you have to determine what role you want to play, what industries and organizations would support that role and what you’re geographical preferences and limitations are. The task here is not to look for open positions, but to look for the decision makers in organizations that would have the role that you are seeking to fill. Remember 30% of organizations are going to need someone, so it’s your job to initiate the introduction and chemistry match. I tell this to people that I am working with all the time and they come back and say, “How will I know if they have an open position?” You won’t but, if you talk to 100 companies you will have interviewed for 10 positions. http://lightship-research.blogspot.com/

  • To be effective, in an executive job search, you have to determine what role you want to play, what industries and organizations would support that role and what you’re geographical preferences and limitations are. The task here is not to look for open positions, but to look for the decision makers in organizations that would have the role that you are seeking to fill. Remember 30% of organizations are going to need someone, so it’s your job to initiate the introduction and chemistry match. I tell this to people that I am working with all the time and they come back and say, “How will I know if they have an open position?” You won’t but, if you talk to 100 companies you will have interviewed for 10 positions. http://lightship-research.blogspot.com/

  • Hi Elizabeth and thanks for your comment! I agree with your first thought that you have to have a plan. Setting a specific target is important. Where I disagree a bit is in your execution. Contacting 100 companies with the hopes that 10 will create or eventually have a job for you feels mightily inefficient. And with only 8 hours in a day in which to do it, provides little time for going after known positions through networking. I am, however, a fan of informational interviews. Picking a few target companies and looking to make an impression while learning about the company or industry is a good idea. But going after 100 companies in this economy when you don’t see a job represents a monster effort. While I believe you need a good “job search ethic”, you also need to implement a balanced strategy.

  • Hi Elizabeth and thanks for your comment! I agree with your first thought that you have to have a plan. Setting a specific target is important. Where I disagree a bit is in your execution. Contacting 100 companies with the hopes that 10 will create or eventually have a job for you feels mightily inefficient. And with only 8 hours in a day in which to do it, provides little time for going after known positions through networking. I am, however, a fan of informational interviews. Picking a few target companies and looking to make an impression while learning about the company or industry is a good idea. But going after 100 companies in this economy when you don’t see a job represents a monster effort. While I believe you need a good “job search ethic”, you also need to implement a balanced strategy.

  • Emes

    Hi Tim,
    Had a question… Would you advise candidates to carry the same networking tools and use them in the same way as in your website even for “Career Fairs”? Should preparation for Career Fairs be different from “Networking Events”?
    Emes

  • Emes

    Hi Tim,
    Had a question… Would you advise candidates to carry the same networking tools and use them in the same way as in your website even for “Career Fairs”? Should preparation for Career Fairs be different from “Networking Events”?
    Emes

  • Emes –
    You ask a great question! There is another version of the SoloSheet that I have been creating that is just for career fairs. The idea of a one-sheet at a career fair makes a lot of sense as often you don’t have a lot of time to get your points across.
    So, what I would have ready:
    1. A targeted elevator pitch that is specific to the industry or company most likely present at the fair (or confirmed if you have a list of companies coming).
    2. Your SoloSheet modified (A) to ensure that target companies are industry-related to the ones you are meeting that day and (B) to make sure your objective is also consistent. Shows focus on your part.
    3. Copies of your resume. Some will appreciate your one-sheet and others will want to have all of your info (especially if they like your background).
    Good luck!

  • Emes –
    You ask a great question! There is another version of the SoloSheet that I have been creating that is just for career fairs. The idea of a one-sheet at a career fair makes a lot of sense as often you don’t have a lot of time to get your points across.
    So, what I would have ready:
    1. A targeted elevator pitch that is specific to the industry or company most likely present at the fair (or confirmed if you have a list of companies coming).
    2. Your SoloSheet modified (A) to ensure that target companies are industry-related to the ones you are meeting that day and (B) to make sure your objective is also consistent. Shows focus on your part.
    3. Copies of your resume. Some will appreciate your one-sheet and others will want to have all of your info (especially if they like your background).
    Good luck!

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  • I never saw this blog entry until it was RTed today and love it, esp the winnowing process.

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  • Thanks Ed – sounds like I need to keep re-tweeting the archives. 🙂

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