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The best jobs are never advertised.

Find out why and what to do about it.
How to network, research employers and create your own Hidden Job Market plan.


The World Wide Web makes it easy to keep up with business news. You'll need to be informed about what's happening--and how it impacts your potential employer--to prepare for interviews and contacts with company and industry insiders.

You can also use online resources to investigate companies, read their annual reports (if the company is public) and get a good feel for how they "present" their company & what they do.

Keep track of the most useful websites for YOUR job search by making a Bookmark. You'll be creating your own custom library of industry and employer information.

What's this company really like?


Northern California
Southern California


Public Companies
Private Companies

Business News


Northern California

See also links to local newspapers at JobStar's San Francisco Bay Area Newspaper Ads. American City Business Journals publishes weekly business newspapers for cities in the U.S. These publications are well known for their Weekly "Top 25" Lists ranking local companies. You can purchase a Book of Lists for your local area OR check with your local library which may own a copy.

Southern California

See also links to local newspapers at JobStar's Los Angeles Area Newspaper Ads or San Diego Area Newspaper Ads.

Company Information


PUBLIC companies sell stock to investors and must file regular disclosure statements with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Only about 2% of all businesses are public. These tend to be high-profile companies with national name recognition, such as Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Walt Disney.

Several things to keep in mind:

1. Despite the weath of public company information offered for a fee (some of it excellent), the SEC reports are free and are the basis of most fee reports. (You're paying for the analysis!)

2. Almost all public companies offer their own SEC reports on their own website. (So if using EDGAR gets too complicated, go to the company's home page.)

3. Information on public companies is based on the PARENT company. If you know the company is public and are having trouble finding information, perhaps the company is a subsidiary, division or affiliate of a company with another name.

[And, if all this looks like too much trouble, remember the pay-off: you'll be a very smart jobseeker when you know as much as you can about the company.]

  • SEC EDGAR Database
    Search for public company filings (the 10-K provides what most people think of a "annual report" information.) These filings are RICH sources of information not only on a specific company but on its industry setting and major competitors as well.

    [SEE: The Annual Reports Library offers tips on reading Annual Reports and other public company reports.]

  • Hoover's Companies A-Z
    "Company capsules" on every U.S. company traded on a major stock exchange. Search by company name, ticker symbol, location, industry or sales. "Capsules" include link to company website, brief financial data and recent reports. ("Capsules" are free; "Company Profiles" for monthly or annual fee.)

    The San Jose Mercury News' Annual Ranking of the largest public companies based in Santa Clara County and surrounding communities

  • Bay Area Top 200 Companies
    San Francisco Chronicle's annual feature: rankings of leading Bay Area public companies (many are high-tech.)


There are far more private companies than public companies! 98% of all companies are private.

Private companies are more challenging to investigate than public companies because they do not issue public financial statements or annual reports. (To quote Forbes: "Private means private.") Yes, you can find some information! But be prepared to work or pay for it....

Here are some sources you'll want to check to investigate private companies:

Directories of Private Companies
Because "private means private," any information on private companies is expensive to research and update. The best resources cost! Your public library buys many of the best sources on companies locally & nationally in paper and electronic formats. Call or visit your library to get the information you need. JobStar's Libraries section will get you started.

  • Employer Locator - Search
    America's Career InfoNet offers this FREE interface to InfoUSA's database of 12 million U.S. employers. Excellent resource for compiling local prospect lists of employers.
    Steps involved are:
    1. Select an Industry Division ( e.g., Construction, Retail, Services)
    2. Select a State
    3. Select a Major Industry and Geographic Region
    4. Select up to five Cities
    5. Select a more Specific Industry
    6. Final list offers company name, key contact, phone number and street map.

  • Hoover's Online
    In addition to information on public companies, Hoover's includes information on 2,000 private companies. Search by company name, location, industry or sales. "Capsules" includes link to company website, brief financial data. ("Capsules" are free; "Company Profiles" for monthly or annual fee.)

  • Forbes Largest Private Companies
    Annual December feature from Forbes ranks the largest private companies by revenues. Each company entry includes link to the company's website, number of employees, sales ranking & a brief company description.

  • Vault Company Research
    Search or browse background information on large employers both public and private. This site includes message boards where you can read (or contribute) positive or negative comments about the workplace.
Find the Company's Website:
See JobStar's Finding Individual Employers on the WWW for:
Look for Local Newspaper Articles on the Company
If the newspaper permits you to search past articles, look for any coverage on your target company. See JobStar's:

Use your Industry Knowledge to fill in the holes:
Learn as much as you can about how your industry works, where the information resources are and the major players! JobStar's Industry Research will help you begin your own library of corporate & industry intelligence.