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Find Jobs with Career Potential in Your Area

A job application on a desk with a cup of coffee.

​Bestselling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

All the job boards seem to post the same jobs, but none of the positions posted seem to be opportunities with potential for career growth. How do I find jobs with potential?

There's a difference between getting a new job and making a strategic career move. When your approach is to just change jobs every few years, you don't get to experience much career growth. But when you make a strategic career move, you are working toward a goal. You need to be able to choose from the widest possible selection of options.

But having too many choices—from the multitudes of jobs sites—isn't helpful. How can you be sure you're narrowing your choices to the best ones for your chosen career path? Using only job boards, the odds are somewhere between slim and none.

You will never identify all the employers and jobs that are suitable for you and within commuting distance through networking, visiting jobs or resume websites, and connecting with headhunters and recruiters—effective though all of these strategies can be. You need to start using the same techniques headhunters use to find open positions and the people to fill them.

Define Your Commute

Start by deciding how much time you are willing to invest in a commute and how far you can travel in that time. For example, you might be prepared to commute for 45 minutes or 30 miles. Use mapping services such as Google Maps or MapQuest to determine travel times from your home to the prospective job location.

With this example, your intent would be to have a map with a 30-mile radius that will include all possible employers within that commuting distance. 

MapBusinessOnline allows you to create such a map. It is meant for business applications (sales territory maps, for example), and a basic membership costs $500 a year. However, when you describe yourself as a business, the company might create for you a free map, which is offered to new customers.

Find Companies in Your Area

Once the radius of your search is defined, you can start searching for suitable companies by industry or position. 

Use the S&P directories at your library or access them online at This reference tool identifies every publicly traded company in the world by location and a couple dozen other criteria. Checking the print editions at your library is free but takes time, and the online database is fast but charges a monthly access fee.

You can do all the research and more in a month, so paying the access fee might be worth consideration. It's a must for those searching for international jobs.

Dun & Bradstreet, through its and Hoovers databases, tracks 240 million public and private businesses worldwide—some 17 million in the United States alone. No matter where you live or where you are looking, together these two resources will enable you to find the vast majority of potential employers in your target profession and location. 

Research Employers

People Data Labs takes a bit of work at first and gives you 1,000 contacts for free; after that, you pay 25 cents per match. However, once you've used all the resources in this and my other job-search articles to identify companies and contacts, you can get free access to 1,000 contacts at your choice of target companies.

With this kind of data and my advice, you are on your way to a successful transition. 

You should also throw these free and for-pay databases into your research and marketing mix: Inc. 5000 and AngelList

If LinkedIn isn't doing the job for you, try doing an online search using terms that describe your job and profession, and you'll find troves of useful data. 

Once your research on potential employers is complete, cross-reference every company you find with your job-search map and growing network of contacts to find people who work for or have worked at target companies. Search for people with job titles three levels above yours; they are most likely to be in a position to hire you or refer you to someone who can. Stay tuned for more advice next week.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous.


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