Strategies to Target Employers and Land Your Ideal Job

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: December 21, 2022

Our customers have been hired at: *Foot Note

Is it possible to actually have a Dream Job, one that makes you want to get up in the morning and get to your desk? Yes, it is. We all need a basic income, but beyond this we all want to experience personal satisfaction in our work. It is what gives us pride in ourselves and leads us to find an opportunity, not just a job. You just need to decide what you want from an employer, then find the employer who meets your needs.

Keeping this in mind, you may need to take a temporary position so you can continue to pay the bills. But while you are doing this continue searching for an employer who matches your personal criteria. You are not limited by industry or location. In fact, your criteria can be anything of personal interest to you — organization size, profit vs non-profit, policies regarding families, social consciousness, and much more. You can even opt to search for an employer in a specific location where certain personal interests can be satisfied. All you have to do is come up with a list of criteria to begin your search for that ideal employer.

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Target by Industry

This is how most of us begin our search. We select an industry that interests us, then we go about finding who is in that industry and make our connection. It is also one of the simpler ways to identify a group of potential employers due to the many business directories available online.

The following resources will help you create your industry list:

  • Career Clusters from The career cluster pages show the industries and types of organizations that typically employ workers in each career cluster.
  • The Fortune 500 – select the Industries tab to sort the list by that criteria.
  • Unions, Associations, and Societies, — search for trade and professional groups representing specific industry areas
  • Sites with Job Listings, — many of the categories represented are also industry groups (such as Engineering). If I have a directory which is focused on one particular group, it is listed here.

You may think a search engine will help here, but it will return too many results. Stick with directories for now, even those compiled by the search engines.

Unsure of what occupations might be found in each industry? Go to and select “Browse Careers by Industry”. Select an industry to see the list of occupations traditionally related to this area. Cool note — on the left of each occupation, you’ll see a little “factory” icon. Click on that to see if this occupation is found in any other industry.

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Target by Location

Do you actually know every employer located within 2 miles of your home? We doubt it. Besides the fact that the US economy is driven by small employers (many of whom fly under everyone’s radar but the local taxing authorities), there are too many players on the field for you to know all their names. So while you are thinking “I want to go where the jobs are”, the truth is the job may be just around the corner and you don’t know it. This is why targeting an employer search by location is so useful.

Besides finding the job next door, it’s possible to prepare for a job search due to a planned relocation — you want to move closer to elderly parents or young grandchildren, or maybe you’ve always dreamed of living in Nashville TN and now is your chance to go! Starting to compile a list of employers before you go can help you prepare for interviews when you arrive.

These are some resources you can use to find lists of employers in specific locations.

  • Let your fingers do the walking through the virtual yellow pages!
  • Newspapers, Magazines, and Headline News. Find local news and media outlets and check their websites for information on local businesses. For example, BizJournals, the business journal website of American City Business Journals, features over 40 metropolitan business journals from across the US. check the stories as well as the advertisers.
  • Find the chamber representing the area where you live or want to live, then look for a list of members.
  • State and Local Government on the Net. Yes, states and local government websites will help you find local employers. It’s good for business and for the tax revenue.

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Target by Whatever Interests You

Would you prefer a large, multinational employer or a small, family-owned business? How about an organization reknowned for its diversity initiatives, its social consciousness, or its efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle? Are you moving to provide a better education for your children or improved access to medical care? It is possible for you to do this. Just create your list of criteria and start your search.

  • Business and Employer Rankings — the Fortune 500, the Inc 5000, Working Mother’s lists of best companies, and much more
  • Resources for Diverse Audiences — check the many categories here for directories and resources specific to you.
  • Green Industry Associations, Professional and trade associations in this industry. Their members will be great potential employers.
  • Consider Relocating — check for the best schools in the US, the least expensive place to live, and the highest concentration of medical specialists in certain fields.
Already experienced in one field but thinking about a change? You might be able to step sideways into a related field with little retraining. Two ways to find related or similar occupations:
  1. — select your current career from the list, then look at the “Explore More” section for links to related occupations
  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook — select your current career field from the list, then check the “Similar Occupations” tab at the top of the page.

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Before Making Contact: Taking Employer Research to the Extreme!

Many years ago, I (the Riley Guide founder) had lunch with a woman who told me about an interview she had scheduled with a prospective employer. She was doing background research on the employer using newspapers from the company’s home office when she discovered that the person with whom she was meeting had been accused of sexual harassment by several employees. It appeared the company transferred him across the country to quiet things down.

She canceled the interview.

There are many instances when things look good until you get inside the employer’s offices. Then you wish you never accepted the job or even the interview. Here are some resources and ideas to use to dig deeper for information on a prospective employer.

Tip: This is a great use for your network! Ask if anyone knows anything about this particular employer! As one job seeker put it to us, “The organization’s website tells me what they want me to know, but other resources tell me what I want to know!

One thing — As you look at individual reviews from former employees, keep in mind that this person may have actually been fired for a viable reason, but he or she may not admit it. Don’t take the word of one person. Gather as much as you can and sort it all, then make a reasonably informed decision.

  • Business and Employer Rankings — the rankings include categories such as “Best Places to Work”
  • Newspapers — As mentioned above, scan the news outlets local to employers to find out what kind of stories are getting press

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