What’s one of the keys to an effective job search?  Access to terrific company data.  When you think about it, in fact, the limiting factor behind the job search of many individuals today (at least the ones I come across) is that they’re not reaching out to nearly enough companies in search of employment — or are failing to identify and target the right decision-makers within these companies.

That’s where company directories and databases come in.  And while there are literally thousands of such tools out there, including a ton of highly specialized sources I have listed on my website, for clients to use, one of the most comprehensive resources is available right under your nose — for free — at your local library.  It’s called ReferenceUSA and for those who haven’t yet discovered it, you need to make a point to incorporate it into your search in the near future.  All you have do is track down or obtain a King County Library System card, visit the KCLS website database page here, and click on the “R” category to find the ReferenceUSA access screen.

Now to confess, I haven’t always been a ReferenceUSA fan.  For years, I’ve touted a similar corporate resource called the Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory, instead, which has also been available through the library system for many years.  During a recent trip to renew my library card, however, I discovered that the D&B system is going to be phased out as a resource, come October.  This realization led me to give ReferenceUSA another look — and from what I saw, I was mightily impressed.  The functionality of the system has come a LONG way in recent years — offering incredible potential to those people seeking to do some serious “target marketing” within the U.S. (and Canadian) marketplace.

For example, once you learn the ropes of ReferenceUSA’s simple menu-driven interface, you can easily pull up (and print or download) sets up data that answer common job hunting questions like these:

•   How many biotech companies are located in Bellevue?
•   How many mid-size manufacturers are there in King County?
•   What Fortune 1000 companies have offices in the Pacific NW?
•   How many $10-50M companies are headquartered in WA State?
•   Which Seattle companies have an International department?

Again, building these kinds of target company lists is a lynchpin of successful job hunting behavior.  It  will not only open your eyes to the vast number of employers that actually exist out there, that might be wrestling with exactly the kind of problem you can solve, but having this data at your fingertips also allows you to start getting proactive. reaching out, and trying to create some opportunities for yourself — versus relying way too heavily, as many people, on the tiny fraction of job leads that companies actually decide to publish.

So make sure to take advantage of this great resource, if you haven’t already.  You’re paying for it with your tax dollars, after all!

P.S.  While you’re on the library site, make sure to check out the ProQuest database you’ll find there, as well.  While it’s not a corporate directory, itself, it’s a great “deep dive” research tool for preparing for interviews, given that it indexes millions of full-text articles from thousands of trade publications, spanning virtually every industry.