How to Build a List of Target Companies for Your Job Search

ZipJob Team

7 min read

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Focus your job search by making a list of companies you want to work for. Here's how to get started building your list of target employers.

For serious job seekers, it is often easy to lose focus during the traditional job hunting process. That is even truer today, when there are so many online portals showcasing open positions and opportunities. To simplify that job search process, it is important to narrow your search as quickly as possible. That is why it is important to know how to build a list of target companies where you would like to work.

Benefits of building an employer target list

Traditionally, most job seekers have taken a broad approach to their job hunting efforts. That usually involves searching job boards or other resources to identify current open positions. Unfortunately, that approach can be too wide-reaching and can quickly become overwhelming. Worse, it can result in applicants sending resumes to companies for jobs they may not really want. For a variety of reasons, a targeted, specific job search will always yield better results.

  • Targeted lists can help you to efficiently organize your job search.

  • A target company list can more effectively advance your career goals.

  • When you are focused on the companies you want to work for, you will be more motivated to push forward in your job search efforts.

  • Your targeting efforts will involve researching the companies, which is a really great way to provide invaluable insight that can help you create a targeted resume and benefit you during the interview process.

  • By focusing on a select group of companies, you can save time and effort that might otherwise be squandered on less-desirable job opportunities.

  • Your targeting and research will help you weed out potentially troublesome job listings and scams.

How to build a list of companies

Once you have committed to building a target list of organizations, there are several key things that you can do to identify the best prospects. This process may take some time but will ultimately help you to focus your time and attention on the best employment opportunities to achieve your career goals.

Search “best companies” lists for your industry and area

The internet has no shortage of “best companies” lists from which to choose. A simple search can help you locate lists of the best companies in your industry or geographical area. Most of those lists also include at least some details about the companies, what they do, their company culture and values, and other important information.

Expand and leverage your network

Don’t forget to harness the power of your personal and professional network. Friends, former co-workers, industry associates, and others can often provide timely information about companies that may be hiring. Often, that can be one of the best ways to access the so-called hidden job market and learn about great job openings before they become common knowledge. You should also be working to expand your network during any job search effort.

Consult with professional associations

Professional associations can also be a great source for information about companies. Most maintain lists of their member companies that can help you quickly identify companies in your industry and area.

Check with the local Chamber of Commerce

From a local standpoint, there are few better resources than your Chamber of Commerce. Local chapters typically maintain directories of companies in their areas that you can use to create your list. The national website is a great place to start. Simply identify the Chambers of Commerce in your area, and then visit its site for more information.

How to research a company for your list

As noted above, you will also need to research companies as you compile your employer target list. The good news is that this research is easier than it has ever been, with online resources that can provide an incredible amount of information about each business. Some of the best research strategies include:

  • Using LinkedIn. The site has a “companies” section that can be used to access key company information for many businesses in your area.

  • Reference Glassdoor. This site provides a host of information about companies, including things like salary details and reviews.

  • Visit individual companies’ websites. By spending time on those sites, you can easily familiarize yourself with what each company does and the type of corporate values it espouses.

LinkedIn a top site for executives

Potential red flags

As you research companies, take note of any “red flags” that may deter you from applying for a job opening. While one or two bad reviews of a firm may not be cause for concern, multiple bad reviews that all focus on the same problem should give you pause. For example, look for:

  • Poor reviews from the BBB,

  • An abundance of customer complaints

  • Limited employee participation on LinkedIn 

These could all be warning signs of a bad employer.

Glassdoor Job Search App

How to use your targeted list of companies

Of course, compiling a targeted list is one thing; figuring out what to do with it is quite another thing entirely. You will need a strategy to use that target company list if you want to get the most out of your efforts. The following tips can help:

1. Search for open positions at the companies

Many companies list open positions on their websites, so that is a great place to start. In addition, you can search for the companies on job search sites to identify new openings. Be sure to also follow those companies’ social media accounts, as openings may be announced there as well.

2. Locate the right contacts at each company

To maximize your job search efforts, you should try to identify contacts at the companies. LinkedIn can be a great resource in that effort. Just visit each company’s LinkedIn page and reach out to listed contacts to inquire about any potential openings. If you can identify hiring managers at the firms, be sure to connect with them too.

Be sure to check out our great article, 7 Tips for Writing A Cold Email for a Job, to learn more about how to make those initial cold contacts. In addition, refer to our posts on the Best Email Subject Lines When Sending a Resume and  Pain Letters: What are They and Should You Use Them for even more tips to help you make those first impressions.

3. Think about how you can add value for each company and help it reach its goals

Naturally, you should also spend time figuring out how you can benefit any of these companies. Each of them will want to know how you would add value and help them reach their goals if you were offered the opportunity. Always be prepared to provide a ready answer to that most important of questions.


Of course, a targeted job search also needs a targeted resume. Employers typically want to see resumes that align with their company needs, and that requires a targeted and tailored resume that highlights your qualifications and potential value as an employee. Be sure to check out our list of recommended reading to help you update and tailor your resume. Alternatively, our team of more than 100 professional resume writers can help to identify your strengths and create a targeted resume that is sure to attract the right kind of attention from potential employers.

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