How I Found A Job (3/20): Target Companies in the Job Search Are Critical

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a couple of favorite target companies based on location (practically no commute). I was really quite interested in working at either of those companies because I thought they had good stuff (even though I’m not completely enamored by what they do), I could learn a ton, and working there would allow me to spend time on JibberJobber and not on commuting.

long commutes disqualified companies from my target companies list

The opportunities at one were far and few between… they just weren’t looking for product managers. The other company regularly had openings but for some reason I didn’t make it far (I think I know why… that is tomorrow’s blog post). I even had a first, and then a second interview at one of my target companies. But I didn’t get past that, I got the cold, horrible, inhuman rejection letter. I have strong feelings that candidates (aka job seekers) should not get cold inhumane letters the farther they make it down the interview process.

I have a whole collection of those letters.

At least I was making more progress in this job search than I had 12 years ago, right? Hurray. I was still getting rejected.

I got to the point where I opened my target companies list and looked at companies further away… up to an hour commute. This was not a fun idea, but hey, if it was the right thing then I’d do it.

In the back of my mind I had a target company, BambooHR (spoiler: this is where I got hired!), but I didn’t see any product jobs from them. So while I thought it would be awesome, there didn’t seem to be anything there.

Another target company, one of the few HR companies in SLC, couldn’t understand that I wanted a job and wouldn’t do JibberJobber at work. I knew the founders, had lunch with them more than once, and thought this would be a good and fun conversation. Instead, I got a cold reception during the first interview (one lady left half way through (without an explanation), ask me what I really think about that), and then in the VP interview he was completely hung up on me having a side hustle.

That was demoralizing, but it was a learning experience. From then on, when an interviewer asked about JibberJobber, I had the perfect set of answers to draw from.

Having a list of target companies was critical.

This helped me focus my time on the right places and not get lost looking at everything that came along. It helped me focus my research time on their opportunities and industries, and figure out who people where that I could have conversations with. Sometimes, in my research, I’d come across another company to add to my target companies list. My list grew, but it was a very particular and focused group of companies.

Want to know the real power of this? If you have ever been asked “How’s your job search going?”, you need to read this article I wrote on LinkedIn:

The Best Answer for the Worst Question in Your Job Search

This is where you can REALLY get value from having your target companies list!

If you don’t have a target companies list, stop everything and create one NOW!

Brainstorm your list of target companies

Updated 2022: What do you with this list of target companies? You dig into them!

Find people in your network that work there. LinkedIn is a great tool for this. You might have to ask for introductions (which is actually an excellent job search tactic because the person you ask will learn you need help and what kind of introductions are valuable to you). One thing I’ll always recommend is informational interviews… it’s one of the top job search courses I regularly recommend.