[This is Step 8 in Part 1 of Job-Hunt's Online Job Search Tutorial.]
Since most of us keep a job for at least 1 or 2 years, shopping carefully for your next employer is smart. You don't want to work for an employer that is going out of business or one that is a miserable place to work - either would mean you'd probably be in another job search too soon.
Like shopping for anything important, you need to shop for your next employer. And, since this will hopefully be the start of a long relationship, doing research in advance to target the best employers for you is important. It will save you time and energy in your job search efforts, both short-term (now) and long-term.
So, it is well-worth the effort to pull together a list of potential employers to target your job search to the employers where you should be the happiest and most successful.
Since you already determined what job you want (in Step 1), now think about what you might want in your next employer (or what you might not want):
The Web is a treasure trove of useful information (just be cautious about believing everything you read!).
Read the "Know BEFORE You Go (or Apply)" and the other articles in Job-Hunt's free Guide to Company Research for help choosing the best potential employers, gathering information to prepare an attention-getting cover letter, and impressing interviewers with your knowledge of them and their organization.
When you find great new employers, add them to your list. When you find out something bad about an employer on your list (pending layoffs, for example), remove them from your list. Don't feel that this list is "set in concrete" and unable to be changed.
The goal is to focus on what you want in your next employer (so you will be happy working there) and then focus your job search efforts on those employers (so you will impress them with your knowledge and interest in working for them). That's the most efficient and effective way to conduct your job search. Otherwise you have waaayyy too many options to consider.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.