TIPS: Using Reference USA to Target Your Job Search Marketing Plan

By Stuart Rosenberg and Pamela Williams
You’re working on putting together your marketing plan and you want to identify companies to target for your job search. Reference USA is a great resource for your search. Free to most library card holders in New Jersey, it can be accessed from home or by going to the library.
These Reference USA tips will help you locate the site; find tutorials on how to use it; and provide an alternative way to navigate Reference USA which can help you find companies you may want to target.
Finding Reference USA
To use Reference USA from home, you will need your library card number and password to log in. If you live in Somerset County and you do not know your password, the default password is the last four digits of your telephone number. If you live in another county, you will need to either go to that county library system website or speak to the librarian to get your password.

NOTE: The remainder of this article is based on accessing Reference USA from the Somerset County Library site, however it should be similar for other counties’ sites.  
Using Reference USA: The Easy Way
After logguing in, you will be at the home page for Reference USA. At the top of the page locate: “Want to see how it works?” This takes you to several tutorials that you may want to look at. If you decide to view the tutorials go back to “Home” by selecting this from the top tabs.
The home screen lists a number of databases. Start by choosing “U.S. Business / Employers USA.” This will take you to a screen with two tabs: Quick Search and Custom Search. While using the “Custom Search” will give you the most complete list, this can be intimidating and I suggest you start with “Quick Search.”
You probably already know a number of companies you want to target. If not, you certainly already know the name of the company that you last worked for and maybe even a few of their local competitors. Start by entering the name of your last company and select “State of New Jersey.” Then click “View Results” and you will get a list of companies / locations that match your search results. Select the company at their primary location in New Jersey. The report that will come up will have multiple sections. The ones I want to bring to your attention are:

  • Location Info (first section)
  • Industry Profile (third section)
  • Competitors Report (twelfth section)

Start by looking at the “Industry Profile” section and copy down the SIC code and description. If you later want to do a custom search, knowing SIC industry codes will help your find similar companies.
Next, open / expand the “Competitor Report” section. This report gives you a list of companies that are geographically close to the company you searched. It is likely that some of these are targets for your job search.
Next, go up to the “Location Info” section and note the last row in the section: “Radius Search.” Enter the miles radius you want to use for your search and click “Find Similar.” This will give you a list of all similar companies within the number of miles radius you provided. You now have another list of possible target accounts.
Note that at the bottom of the page you have the option to “Download” or “Print” the company information for your selected company.
I suggest taking any other companies you had previously identified as targets for your job search, or any that you found from the data on the company you recently left, and repeat the process. By the time you have finished, you will have a targeted account list.
Using Reference USA: Custom Search
To find more targeted companies for your job search, go back to the first search screen, and select “Custom Search.” If you are already in Reference USA, clicking on “New Search” will bring you to the first search screen.
Once you are at the “Custom Search” screen, click the arrow next to “Business Type.” This opens a box for you to enter your search criteria. At the bottom of the section, you will see two rows of boxes in which to enter the SIC codes for the industries you want to target (see above). If the SIC codes you copied down have a hyphen, enter the SIC code in the box WITHOUT the hyphen.
After completing the “Business Type” section, go to the “Geography” section. You can search by state, by city, by metro area, by specific zip codes, or by radius from your zip code. Click on the box for the criteria you want to use and enter the search criteria.
Now look at the right side of the screen where you will see a green box that says “View Results” and below it a blue box that says “Update Count.” When you click on “Update Count” it will show you how many companies match your search results. You can then either adjust the number of SIC codes or the geography to increase or decrease the number of matches. When you are finished entering the criteria, the click on “View Results” and you will get a list of companies that match your search criteria. Note that you can download or print the results of the search.
Reference USA is a powerful tool to use in developing your job search marketing plan. It is available to you free of charge through your local library and can either be accessed from the library or from home.  While it may initially seem intimidating, it is not that difficult to use and I hope this article will help you get started and will enhance your job search activities.

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