It can be challenging as a job seeker not to focus solely on applying for jobs and waiting to hear back. However, your job search should also be about proactively targeting companies to help you find a good fit for your career goals and values. The more time and effort you spend targeting and researching companies, the more likely you are to find not only a job but also an organization and company culture that’s right for you. Fortunately, the extensive amount of information and resources available online makes learning about companies and uncovering potential job opportunities easier than ever before.

One of the best resources for company research is LinkedIn. As career consultant Jim Peacock points out, LinkedIn is the largest career database in the world, featuring profiles of people, their career paths, jobs and companies. LinkedIn provides a platform where you can not only network, share information and find jobs, but also where you can do extensive research on companies to gain valuable insights into their mission, goals, values and company culture. (see Using LinkedIn to Research: Who would have thought? for a detailed, illustrated step-by-step guide to using LinkedIn for company research).

LinkedIn specialist Melanie Pinola (How to use LinkedIn to research companies) highlights important areas of information to focus on while researching companies on LinkedIn, including:

  • How to connect to the company through identifying potential contacts who might be a “foot in the door” there
  • A company’s competitors (under the “People Also Viewed” and “Where Employees Came From” sections), which might lead you to other companies to research and look for potential job opportunities
  • A company’s positioning and latest developments, posted on the summary page and in status updates, which can help you understand how your skills and experience might be a good fit with the organization
  • Newly hired or promoted employees, under the “Insights” tab of the company page, which can show you the kinds of people the company is hiring and if you have skills in common
  • Available job openings, under the Careers tab, if available.

You can also click the “Follow” button on a company page to stay abreast of their job openings and new product or service developments via email alerts and updates on your LinkedIn homepage. In fact, internal recruiters may look on your LinkedIn profile to see if you follow the company.

There are many other online resources in addition to LinkedIn that can help you learn more about companies, including:

Company websites offer the opportunity to review the organization’s mission statement, history, products and services, management and information about the company culture, usually in the “About Us” and/or “News” sections. Job search expert Alison Doyle (How to Research a Company for a Job Interview) suggests paying attention to the words companies use to describe themselves, which can help you think about whether you want to work at a company where people are “driven to excellence” or where “employees consider their coworkers family.”

Social Media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, can give you insights into company culture through the kinds of activities and events featured and the messages their social media convey, such as public service oriented vs. more promotional and sales oriented.

Great Place to Work , whose mission is to build a better world by helping organizations become a great place to work for all, provides a good way to find companies with workers who are happy to be there. You can search lists of the best places to work in certain industries or locations and also search certified companies by search terms, industry, state or size.

Glassdoor offers reviews written by current and former employees about life at particular companies and a section with reviews of people’s interview experiences, often with the questions they were asked.

Indeed offers reviews and salaries, top rated workplaces, and includes companies – from Sittercity and Starbucks to Apple and AT&T – that provide a wide range of job opportunities.

CareerBliss describes itself as a community that “empowers you to choose happy with over 8 million job postings, 4 million salaries and 700,000 company reviews.” You can research salaries and read company reviews as well as search for jobs.

Comparably is a newer review and salary website focused on making workplaces transparent and rewarding for both employees and employers. It includes a company culture rating that measures how employees feel about their (non-monetary) benefits and the company’s culture – in other words, how happy they are to work there.

Local chambers of commerce serve as excellent resources for those looking for jobs, especially at small companies, according to a recent post on Jails to Jobs (How to research companies when looking for a job). Most chambers have a website with a directory of member businesses, owners and contact information, and can be found by doing an internet search using the name of the city and state followed by “chamber of commerce.”

The current shelter in place environment provides a real opportunity to creatively use this time to dig deeper into internet resources, to learn more about companies and job opportunities and perhaps to gain clarity about what might be the best fit for your skills, experience and interests. The information and insight you pick up now may not only help in your current job search but may also help guide choices you make in the future as you move forward on your career path.