Do you have a list of companies you would like to work for? If you do, use the internet to discover information about the company, review open positions, and find connections to help you apply for employment and get a job offer.

If you don't have a target list of companies - a short list of employers you would be thrilled to work for - it's a good idea to research company information and create a list of companies to target in your job search. All the information you need is available on the web, and it's easy to find detailed information about potential employers online.

Take the Time to Target Companies

It's important to take the time to research companies. You're wasting time and energy if you just apply for any job opening you find, even though you might feel like you're accomplishing something by sending out tons of resumes.

The time you spend upfront investigating companies will benefit you in the long run, because you won't be spending time and energy applying to companies that aren't a good fit. Instead, you will be applying for jobs at companies where you would like to work.

Why Matchmaking Matters

When the company isn't the right fit for your skills, qualifications and goals, there isn't much point in pursuing opportunities there - even in a down job market. Why not? Because, in the long run, the job probably isn't going to work out for you - or for the company.

If the company is a good match, it makes sense to target it as one of your employment goals. You will know that the company has the type of jobs you're looking for. You'll know that the employer's culture and mission match what you're seeking. And you'll also be able to connect with people at the company who can help you secure an interview and give you a reference.

Choosing Companies

How do you find companies that are a good match? There are web sites with lists of the best companies to work for. Fortune, for example, ranks companies by a variety of criteria, including the 100 best companies, the 500 top companies, blue ribbon companies, most admired companies, best small companies, and so on.

Finding Company Information

Once you've found companies to target, the next step is to research the company to verify that it is, in fact, a good match.

• Use LinkedIn's companies section as a tool to find company information. Search by keyword or browse industry information. You'll be able see your connections at the company, new hires, promotions, jobs posted, related companies, and company statistics.

• Use Hoovers to get high level information on multinational corporations.