Waves of startup and tech layoffs have workers looking for new jobs. If you are like many job seekers, it may have been 5, 10, or 20+ years since you last looked for a job. There are numerous steps you need to take in a modern job search. This can feel overwhelming. Where do you start?
As a career coach, an initial step I recommend taking after being laid off from your job is to develop a dream company list. This same recommendation applies if you are simply looking for a new job.
So what is a dream company list? How do you identify target companies when job searching? Are there any mistakes to avoid when building a dream company list? In this article, I explain what a dream company list is, how to identify target companies, and what mistakes to avoid when building your list of dream companies.
What Is A Dream Company List?
To begin, what is a dream company list? A dream company list is a compilation of employers you want to work for. The list will evolve as you clarify your needs, learn more about the companies, and begin landing interviews.
Although each situation is unique, I recommend starting with approximately 20 target employers on your target list. These 20 employees will be the initial companies you focus your energy, effort, and time on when launching your job search.
How Do You Build A Dream Company List?
Now, how do you build your dream company list? The following are four steps to guide you in building a target list of companies.
1. Identify Your Needs
Before diving into the job search, you want to get clear on what you want in your next employer and career. Think about this step as manifesting your next job. Subsequently, begin by answering these questions:
- What do you need in your next job?
- What do you want in your next job?
- What do you not want in your next job?
- What can you not have in your next job?
I encourage you to get as detailed as possible in this step. Then, print out your list and refer to it as you explore companies. If you need additional support, this article I wrote for Forbes offers seven additional questions to ask yourself when considering a career move.
2. Use Best Places To Work Lists
Next, you want to find companies that align with the items you identified above. One way to find these companies is by referencing best places to work lists. The following are a few of my favorite best places to work and related lists. (Note: These are the most recent top employer lists available from 2022. The lists are often updated on an annual basis.)
- LinkedIn Top Companies
- Fortune Best Companies to Work For
- Inc. Best Workplaces
- Glassdoor Best Places to Work
- HRC’s Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality
- Built In’s Best Places to Work
As of writing this article, Built In offers their Best Places to Work awards across nine categories: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and 100% remote companies.
Beyond the above-mentioned lists, you can dive deeper and find the best places to work lists for your specific industry and profession. Take some time to find the ones that make the most sense for you.
3. Leverage LinkedIn’s “Pages People Also Viewed” Section
As a LinkedIn Top Voice for Job Search & Careers (the platform’s highest honor), I am a major proponent of using LinkedIn during your job search. A useful way to leverage the platform is to go to a target company’s LinkedIn page (here is The Walt Disney Company’s page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-walt-disney-company/) and scroll to the Pages people also viewed section. As the name infers, this section will display companies that other LinkedIn users also viewed. You can then use this data to pinpoint additional companies that may interest you.
While some of the Pages people also view will be obvious, you also may be surprised by the results. When I viewed The Walt Disney Company’s LinkedIn page, for instance, the Pages people also viewed included Warner Bros. Entertainment, Apple, and Spotify. If you were interested in working at The Walt Disney Company, I would potentially advise adding these additional companies to your dream company list.
4. Ask Peers Where They Recommend You Work
Crowdsourcing can be incredibly helpful when looking for a new job. Consider asking colleagues and friends where they recommend you work. This can be as simple as asking, “What companies do you recommend I target during my job search?”
A bonus of using this method is that you can notify people you are job searching. If your peers happen to work at a dream company, you may want to use this conversation to ask questions to help you assess the company culture.
Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Dream Company List
Finally, what mistakes should you avoid when building a dream company list? A common mistake I see is a broad job search with disparate target companies. This haphazard approach has good intentions — you want to keep your options open. However, employers are often looking for a specific type of candidate. Subsequently, the more targeted you can get, the better.
With this in mind, you also want to avoid tunnel vision. Some job seekers make the mistake of focusing their efforts solely on Meta, Amazon, Google, and other major tech industry employers. While it is OK to be interested in these big tech companies, consider expanding your search beyond the big names. Companies with less name recognition generally receive fewer applicants, resulting in less competition and increased chances of landing an interview.
Remember: The ultimate goal of creating your dream company list is to land a job you love. You’ve got this!