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Whether jobs are plentiful or scarce, it pays to take the time to research target companies you might want to work for. Blindly applying to positions on LinkedIn or Glassdoor is like sending your resumé into a deep, black hole. It will drain your time and energy, and you likely won’t hear a peep. Even if you do generate some leads or an interview, how will you know if the company is the right fit?

Aligned values

Working for a company with values you can get behind is important for your long-term happiness. Do the values listed on a company website ring hollow, or do its leaders authentically live out shared values in the workplace?  When forming a list of target companies, you should get to know each organization’s mission, vision and values. If you don’t get the sense an organization shares your personal mission and values, don’t waste your time. “Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility,” according to Patrick M. Lencioni with Harvard Business Review.

A company’s culture, communications and customer service should positively reflect its values. And values have a huge impact on internal productivity and engagement. In the long run, to be happy in a position you’ll want to seek out companies whose values align with yours.

Opportunity for guidance and growth

Our career strategists routinely hear from employees who feel “burnt out” after years of climbing the corporate ladder. They may love the company they work for, share the same values, and excel at the role. However, some aspect of their role or company leadership has failed to keep them happy and fulfilled.

You should examine how a company handles personal employee growth and development. Do they help employees manage their whole self, including professional training, mental health and other personal needs? A target company that is consistent in providing real-time feedback and soft skill development and encourages mentoring and coaching will keep you motivated and engaged as you take on new opportunities.

People you can count on

Great companies focus on building a strong culture with true team players. Nothing beats going to work every day knowing a team of collaborative, driven people will have your back. You want to work with people you can play off of, learn from and depend on. If you meet with potential teammates and don’t feel a connection, you may want to reconsider the position.

“… teamwork doesn’t just benefit the organization; collaboration can also increase job satisfaction and lead to better results. Working in teams allows your staff more opportunities to release their creative ideas and offers a greater sense of belonging,” shares Robert Half. As you’re building your target list, take the time to check your network and see who you might know at a target company. And think about if they are the type of person you want to work with each day.

Learning and continuous improvement

Unless you thrive doing the same thing the same way every day, then you’ll want to be sure your target companies are learning organizations. Instead of seeing new opportunities and challenges as headaches, learning organizations thrive on adapting goals and designing solutions. And. such companies typically promote learning across all systems, processes and people. According to Barrett Cordero for Forbes, “Learning companies practice learning every day. … Learning is embodied and practiced by the leadership and every employee in the company.”

Working for an organization that values continuous improvement via learning means your workplace and your role will never become stale. You’ll be empowered to offer suggestions and feedback for improvement and change. Opportunities for growth, education, mentorship and coaching will be readily available and encouraged. You want to target companies that understand that as you learn and grow as a professional, they too will benefit.

Guidance moving forward

Generating a hit list of target companies allows you to focus your job search energy. Once you have it prepared, it’s time to be proactive. Don’t just wait for your target companies to post jobs—get to know people who work there so you are on their radar when a job opens. Search your connections and see if you know anyone who works at the companies. Or perhaps a contact can help make an introduction for you.

Creating the right list of target companies allows you to hone your job search and focus on workplaces that will keep you satisfied, motivated and happy.

At Crosworks, our experienced career strategists specialize in helping you define what you want out of your target company and position through career assessment. We also offer job search strategies to support you through a thorough market search.


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