Looking back on 2007, and the range of job search tactics that seemed to prove most successful for our client base, we’d emphasize one critical tip above all others — namely, the importance of researching, developing, and carrying around a specific target company list with you at all times!

In our experience, job hunters who skip over this step and never get around to identifying their top 25-30 companies of interest routinely find themselves hamstrung in their lead generation efforts.  Not only do they end up more or less searching at random, hoping to stumble across leads, but they also tend to experience little success with their networking efforts (including those involving LinkedIn) since they are unable to rally their contacts around a clear list of organizational targets.  This oversight is all the more inexcusable in today’s world where a massive array of free resources and corporate directory websites (including those on the “Research” tab of our Job Search PhD Spreadsheet) exist to help a person uncover the companies that come closest to their desired industry, location, and size parameters.

The other major advantage of preparing a detailed company list is that it sends the message to all of your contacts that you’re taking your job search seriously.  After all, who is in a better position to know the companies that would be the best fit for your skills than you, yourself?  If you rely on other people to brainstorm company names off the top of their head, you’re likely to be disappointed.  Additionally, your list can become a valuable asset in its own right, at times, in the sense that you can “trade it ” to people during the networking and interviewing process!  Case in point?  Consider the note below that we recently received from one of our clients, who locked down a near-perfect job opportunity in December after several months of highly-focused networking in the biotech sector:

“In terms of the list of target biotechnology companies I developed, based on your suggestion, quite a few of the folks I have met with have scanned it and thought it was impressive that I was that prepared with such knowledge of the market.  I would need to tally how many folks that would be – probably at least 15, many of whom were at the CEO/President/VP level.  I even met with one CEO who went through my entire company list line-by-line (yep – all 300+ companies!) and checked off each company that he had contacts with.  He had a lot of contacts!”

Such testimonials reinforce our belief that a well-researched company list is an absolutely essential ingredient in the modern job search process — so if you’re actively looking for work, we’d encourage you to make developing such a list (if you haven’t already) a key personal resolution for 2008!