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Applying to every company that's hiring isn't a very effective way to conduct a job search.

To improve your chances of landing a job, it's important to be very strategic about the companies that you're applying to.


The fact that a company is hiring is only a small piece of the puzzle. You want to apply to a company that fits your skills and personality, and has similar values. Most importantly, you want the company's mission to inspire you, and you want to have a part in that mission.

That's why it's important to create an interview bucket list of 10-20 companies where you would love to work before you start hunting for a job.

Here's how to put together an interview bucket list.

Do A Self-Assessment

A businessman gives some serious thought about his career.

What industry do you want to work for? What are your key skill sets? What weaknesses do you need to improve?

These are just some of the self-assessment questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin your job search. From there, you also need to consider location. Do you want to stay where you currently live, or are you looking to move?

Once these important factors are considered, it becomes a lot easier to create the criteria for the interview bucket list and narrow down the search.

Research Companies

Young job seekers researches companies they she may want to apply to for a job.

There are plenty of ways to find and research companies for your interview bucket list. Chances are you may already have some companies in mind, or great recommendations from your professional network.

A large part of your search will likely be done over the internet. You can find a lot of great companies by searching industry websites, news and business websites, and trade publications.

Once you get a list of companies going, you'll need to take a deeper dive into each one of them by visiting their individual websites, social media accounts, and reviewing any news stories about them.

It's also beneficial to view sites like Glassdoor and Indeed to read employee reviews about working at the company.

Find Your Personal Connection

When applying for a job, it's important to think about what you respect and admire about the company.

Company culture, perks and benefits, salary, and job opportunities are major factors to consider before adding companies to your interview bucket list.

But, it's also important to ask yourself if you respect and admire the company. And if so, how do you personally connect with the company?

When you respect and admire a company, you can make a connection to its purpose. Companies are in the business of solving a problem for their customers; how can you fit into the company's plans for solving this problem? Is there a personal reason why you connect to solving this problem, or connect with the company?

The more passionate you are about a company's mission, the more fulfilling your career with that company could be.

Build Your Network

Job seeker writes a personal LinkedIn note to a potential new connection.

Building an interview bucket list is one thing, but if you really want to improve your chances of landing an interview with one of these companies, you need to network your way into their orbit.

Identify five people at each company and find ways to connect with them. You can start by seeing if you have any shared connections in your professional network. It's always easier to be introduced by a mutual connection.

If you don't have a mutual connection, you'll have to take some initiative and reach out to some of these professionals on LinkedIn on your own.

The goal is to ask these professionals to connect in hopes you can learn more about the company and what it might take to land a position there. Stress to them that you aren't looking for them to help you get a job, just some insight as to what the process is like.

These connections may start small with a few casual conversations, but the more you find in common with these connections, the more opportunity you'll have for meaningful conversations, and to build trust and mutual respect.

The more of these connections you build, the more opportunity you have to earn a referral to one of your bucket list companies, or gain insight about other great companies that may be worth your time.


Looking for additional help with your bucket list and job search?

Join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

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