The Wise Job Search aims to provide the "Best of the Best" information, resources, and ideas to help you go from "I didn't get the job" to "I start on Monday!"
Have a job search question? Send an email through the Contact page and check back for an article with an answer!

Targeting Companies for a Job in 5 Steps!

image In today’s job market, it’s not very effective to simply respond to job postings online and wait for a call. It only makes you one of dozens, or hundreds that are doing the same thing with each of those postings.

It is much more effective to pick one, or five, or ten companies you most want to work for, and execute a strategy to target them whether they have an appropriate opening posted or not. Here are 5 steps:


1 ~ Prepare your lists! Create your target list. You can do this by searching people on LinkedIn in your area with titles similar to what you are looking for. What companies do they work for? Pick the ones you want most. Search LinkedIn and ask your other networks for contacts at those companies. Create your list of phone numbers and email addresses for each one. You can use WhitePages.com, JigSaw, and Google to help. Often by Googling the person’s name you can find a direct phone number or email address, or at least find the general format for the company email addresses then apply the individuals name. At the very least, you can certainly find the company’s main phone number to call and ask for the person by name.

2 ~ Get smart about them. Learn what you can about those companies. Read their websites, Google them, check finance sites for news about them. Check what kind of jobs they may have posted.  Figure out what skills, experience, knowledge, and strengths you have that may uniquely fit their organization or solve a problem for them. Write it out. Using what you’ve learned, create a tailored resume to emphasize your strengths for each organization.

3 ~ Write Scripts! No matter how articulate and well spoken you are, you will be better if you’re well prepared with what you will say. Create detailed scripts for multiple scenarios… contacts that are not related to the position you’re pursuing, and contacts that may be a hiring manager for you. Write ‘decision trees’ so that you have a response regardless of their answers.  Don’t ask for a position, but ask who they recommend you talk to, what they recommend as the best way to get noticed, ask for further information about the company, culture, tools they use, etc.  You don’t have to memorize the scripts, and certainly don’t read them word-for-word, however, by writing it out and having it handy as a guide you will better stay on track and be much more effective. Make them brief and to the point. Make them professional and practice them. You can find additional help here.

4 ~ Connect! A well prepared call is always better than an email. Contact the names you’ve gathered and make an introduction. Let them know you are specifically focusing on opportunities in their company. Gather the information you can and let them know that, if they don’t mind, you’d like to reconnect with them again as you may have additional questions. Use your scripts. Follow up EVERY call with an emailed Thank You to keep your name in front of them and to be sure they have your contact information. ALSO sending a written Thank You note in addition to the email is an added way to stay connected and shows professionalism.

5 ~ Connect some more! Persistence Pays! A person from one of my job search classes contacted five people at a company he had targeted. Each of the first four told him there were no opportunities coming up any time soon. The fifth invited him to meet, and over the course of the next 3 weeks he ended up getting a job offer. Most people would have given up after the first ‘No’. Don’t let one person that doesn’t help you discourage you from continuing to pursue as many others within the organization as you can find. Contact multiple people from multiple areas within the organization. Follow up with them more than once. Be professional and ‘Pleasantly Persistent’ with each contact, but don’t quit after only one call!

Professional persistence in targeting specific organizations will be much more effective than ‘carpet bombing’ your resume to dozens or hundreds of companies. It takes more effort and initiative, but you are much more likely to get the job you want, where you want it than any other method. So get busy!


Thank you for visiting The Wise Job Search. I truly appreciate your interest. If you like the material here and would like to help keep it viable, please peruse and visit book recommendations, and other resources posted throughout the site. Best wishes on your continued search, and feedback is always welcome!


Hung Lee said...

Harry, EXCELLENT article - I agree with almost everything you wrote, particularly step 3 - the need to write scripts! Most people have an aversion to scripting dialogue before the call, most likely for fear of sounding like automata, but sales people know the value of having a visual guideline on what to say. Structure allows the flexibility to ad lib. Decision trees is an excellent feature also - ELIMINATES the possibility of being caught out and creates a control over the conversation which can be immensely impressive to the recipient. One thing I do disagree on though is the concept that a call is always better than an email. This is old school cold calling and its seriously out of fashion. The percentages are against you - you cannot guarantee contact, you have to get past the gatekeeper, if you do get through, the receiver has NO IDEA what the call is about, may not be in a position to deal with it or simply might be having a bad day. No matter how good your opener is, you have a good chance of burning a good lead. The recommendation I'm giving is contact through LinkedIn - Step 2 assumes you have an account - and an Inmail or a forwarded email from a mutual contact is a much more powerful way of attracting positive interest from the recipient. Of course, you would then follow up with that phone call - 'warmed up' through the earlier message. I hope you don't mind my critique - could be a cultural issue (I write as a sales guy in the UK).

Keep up the good work.


CorDell Larkin said...


I couldn't agree with you more about cold calls. I've tracked my success for penetrating a new account, getting an executive to pay attention to a career opportunity with one of my clients, etc. and my highest success rate always comes from referrals. The lowest is always from cold calls.

That said, most people are not connected to someone within every company they want to work for. The trick is making a connection before making a request.

I wrote on this topic a while back and you might want to check out how I recommend people do this within the context of a job search (see http://wp.me/pCoHk-d). NOTE: this article was written in the context of helping someone change job functions, locations, or industries, but the advice applies in all cases of job searching. Pay particular attention to leveraging LinkedIn Groups for accessing decision makers directly and expanding your network.

Wishing everyone a successful search!


For more about me see my LinkedIn Profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cordelllarkin, and for more of my career tips follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/cordellco.

Unknown said...

Harry - Good article. Regarding the Creation of Lists in bullet point #1, I wanted to share a resource with you and your readers which might be of use for networking purposes.

Emails4Corporations.com is a free resource that lists the email address patterns for over 200 of the F500 corporation. The site shows you the structure of how email addresses are formed for each company, saving the job seeker a lot of time and money. If you know the full name and the company where they work, then you can figure out their email and contact them directly!!


Harry Urschel said...

Terrific resource!

Thanks Logan

Tony Deblauwe said...

Thanks for the post. Very true - diligence and persistence based on a sound plan does pay off!

Rich Marsh said...

The best tool to use to identify target companies very powerful, something we all pay for with taxes, but never use. Specifically, the Reference Librarian at your local public library.

Around my area, they will teach you how to use tools that the library has that make anything on the internet look like children's books. Further, once you have a library card, you can use those tools from home.

We're talking tools like Reference USA, which compiles information from all those government reports that every company has to file. For example, we had one person who was looking for a factory operations management role, who told us he knew about all 26 factories in our area, and they didn't need him. The Reference Librarian showed him how to use Reference USA, and he found more than a hundred factories in the area that he didn't know about, and very quickly landed his job. I can give dozens of similar examples.

Start your targeting efforts with your Reference Librarian. They just love helping folks out.

Additional "Wise Job Search" Help by Topic: