One search technique I endorse is identifying 20 desirable employers in your geographic area who hire for the type of position you are targeting. The actual number may vary depending upon the industry and your target area.
For example, if you are interested in a career in public relations in DC, you should research PR firms (or organizations that have their own PR departments) and identify the top 20 firms that align with your criteria for a ‘desirable’ employer. Size of organization, culture, clients, mission, type of work, etc. are all criteria to consider when creating the list of 20 firms. Each company is unique and while you may enjoy working at one organization, you may have a vastly different experience at another.
Consider universities – Brown and Notre Dame. Both boast top undergraduate programs, medium in enrollment size, both schools were founded with a religious backing, tuitions are equivalent, and SAT scores for admissions are comparable. Dig deeper and you will find Brown and Notre Dame are different (think apples and oranges). There exists vastly different cultures at each school; one school is located in an urban setting and the other having a defined campus; one school is still faith-based while the other is not; and the differences continue. This simple example demonstrates the need to dig deeper when identifying your target employer list.
Creating a target list of desired employers is a good job search technique is it focuses the energy of the job seeker, allowing the individual to identify networking opportunities with professionals within the desired firms as opposed to using a ‘shotgun’ approach. If one knows the 20 or so ‘desired’ employers, the job hunter can reach out to professionals within the company, go in-depth in her research of the firm, identify areas where he can contribute to the organization, etc. Having fully-developed networking relationships usually generate better outcomes as compared to networking contacts that are still in their infancy stages. This is not to say that a job hunter should ignore job leads or networking opportunities from other companies, rather the majority of the individual’s energy and efforts should be on the target list.