It’s no secret that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the job market. Unemployment numbers have skyrocketed, and they are still climbing. Finding a job in this environment is going to be a challenge, and every tactic in your arsenal should be brought to bear. One of the most overlooked methods of finding new employment is to target companies in your remote job search—before you search the job ads.
Why You Should Target Companies in Your Remote Job Search
It’s More Effective
Identifying target companies in your remote job search provides distinct benefits as opposed to focusing solely on online job ads. The most important advantage is that it is a far more effective job hunting technique. In fact, according to Richard Bolles, author of the job-hunting bible “What Color is Your Parachute?” answering a job ad on the internet only works about 4% of the time. Conversely, knocking on a company’s door—figuratively speaking in this case—works at getting a job an astounding 47% of the time.
It Leads to High Job Satisfaction
Another important advantage is job satisfaction. Studies have repeatedly shown that a company’s culture and values are at least as important as compensation and benefits, and perhaps more important. So, targeting companies you want to work for will not only make your job search easier, it will make you happier too!
A 2015 study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 67% of respondents felt the most important factor in job satisfaction was the respectful treatment of all employees. Compensation came in second with 63%. Other top factors included:
- Job security
- The opportunity to use skills and abilities
- Trust between employees and management
These results highlight how interconnected job satisfaction is with both the job performed and the company culture.
Another recent study by Glassdoor analyzed their database of employee reviews to identify factors most closely aligned with job satisfaction. They found that a company’s culture and values were almost twice as important as compensation and benefits. Senior leadership, career opportunities, the company’s six-month business outlook, and work-life balance came out ahead of compensation as well.
You Can Find Healthy Companies
A final benefit of targeting companies in your job search is that you can evaluate business potential. Some businesses are thriving and have a very positive outlook despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses may seem fine now, but problems may lie ahead due to shifts in the economy.
To help you take advantage of this powerful job-hunting technique, below are five easy steps to help you identify and leverage target companies in your remote job search.
Conduct a Self-Assessment
The first thing is to clearly identify what you are looking for in a company. This requires you to understand yourself and what makes you happy and productive. If you have difficulty seeing yourself clearly, as many do, there are several reputable assessment tools available to help, such as the Myers-Briggs or the DiSC assessments. Some have free online versions, but most will want you to purchase a more comprehensive service.
These tools can identify occupations and target companies in your remote job search where you will thrive. However, those who wish to work through this exercise on their own can contemplate the following:
- What do you value? Knowing your core values can be the most important determinant of your future happiness. When you are aligned with your values, you feel less stressed and are more productive. For example, do you value being involved in the community, saving for retirement, international travel, or work-life balance? Identify and prioritize your top values for comparison against those of potential target companies.
- What is your personality? Your personality will help you determine what type of work environment will be most productive for you. Some questions to answer here might include: How formal are you? How much interaction do you want with coworkers? What environments make you feel happy?
- How important is career growth? Knowing the answer to this question can be key to picking companies to target. Are you interested in progressing over time with the same company? How important are recognition and rewards to you? Are you more concerned with job security and earning a living?
Identify Potential Companies
Now that you have a better understanding of your own needs and wants, it is time to make an initial identification of potential target companies for your job search. A great place to conduct initial research for telecommute-friendly companies is the Virtual Vocations database of over 20,000 companies.
All the businesses in the Virtual Vocations company database have been individually researched and include information such as:
- Company description
- Types of remote jobs they advertise for
- Salary and benefits
- Company culture
You can limit your search by selecting the industry you wish to work in from the list below the search box. You can also limit your search by using the search box. For example, you may wish to identify companies in particular locations. While the number of companies advertising nationwide remote jobs has increased, many companies prefer to hire in the same state for a variety of reasons, including part-time office hours, occasional in-person meetings, tax laws, and licensing requirements.
Further Reading: Remote Work and Telecommuting Jobs State Resources
Research Potential Companies
Now that you have an initial list of companies, it’s time to trim it down by conducting more thorough research. Make sure to research company leadership as well. Below are a few ways to gather your information:
- Company website. Start by thoroughly going through the potential target company’s website for clues as to their corporate values and culture. What is the company’s vision, mission and goals and how closely do they align with your own values? What are the company’s current projects and future plans? On the career pages, how engaged are you by the benefits of working for the company as presented?
- This is a great resource to get the inside scoop. Check the employee reviews to find information on the pros and cons of working for the company. Filter the reviews according to location and/or job title of the reviewers to make sure the comments are applicable. Do the reviews match up with what the company says?
- Research the business and mainstream news outlets to check for any recent mentions. Are the articles positive or negative? You can also see if there are any articles or press releases posted on the company website. This resource will also indicate what the company is proud of and what leadership feels is most important. If publicly traded, make sure to research the company’s stock performance and ratings.
Further Reading: Top 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs in 2020
Create a Shortlist of Target Companies
Now that you have a list of interesting companies that align with your values, personality, and career growth plans, it’s time to prioritize. Even a list of 10 to 15 can be an overwhelming list of target companies to concentrate on when you’re searching for a remote job. Develop a set of criteria depending on what is most important to you right now in order to place companies at the top of your list. Criteria can include (but is not limited to):
- Currently hiring
- Fully remote positions (or whatever you are looking for)
- Shared values
- Clear career path
- Good compensation & benefits
- Know people who work there
Further Reading: Remote Companies Hiring During Record Unemployment and COVID-19
Engage with Your Target Companies
Now comes the part where you put your information to good use. You’ve identified the companies that you want to work for, and now you need to reach out and let the company get to know you. Several different strategies you can use include:
- Set up email alerts. Sign up to receive email alerts for the companies you are interested in on the Virtual Vocations website. Simply add the name of the company in the keyword field of the alert form. You can also set up a Google alert for the company to receive emails with the latest internet mentions.
- Link up on LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, now is the time to get one. Find the LinkedIn page of companies you are interested in and follow to receive notifications and stay current. LinkedIn will also identify if you are connected or went to school with anyone who works there. Research these people to find the company’s leadership, employees in positions that interest you, and hiring managers.
- Reach out to any new or current contacts you identify and establish or re-establish a relationship. An email or LinkedIn message is fine at this point. Let them know that you are considering working for their firm and would appreciate it if you could ask them a few questions.
- Interview for information. For those that respond positively, schedule a phone or video call. You can also correspond via email if necessary. Ask about their position, what it’s like to work for the company, and whether they know of any openings. Expanding your professional network will serve you well throughout your career. According to Bolles, asking for job leads results in a new job 33% of the time.
Further Reading: Informational Interviewing: A Critical Tool for Remote Jobseekers
A Final Word on Targeting Companies
In addition to helping you target companies in your remote job search, the strategies introduced above will also differentiate you from other job seekers. You are sure to stand out during the application process if you can have your new contacts put in a good word. You will also have an advantage during the interview process due to the knowledge you gain doing the research and the insights you receive from current employees.
Flipping your job search upside down and identifying target companies in your remote job search, before looking for a job, will drastically improve your chances of finding the perfect opportunity for you. By incorporating the steps above you will identify companies that match your values, develop relationships with current employees, and tap into possible jobs that have not been advertised.
iStock Image: RichVintage
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