It's easy to be a passive job hunter. See an opening, apply for it. However, actually "searching" for something requires you to be proactive, not reactive. You won't find a job if you're simply hoping one finds you.
So, one of the best career strategies is to identify and pursue companies where you want to work. That way, you won't sit around waiting for a job posting that meets your needs (that can take forever!).
Make A List
You're probably familiar with some annual lists of the "best" companies to work for (such as those created by Fortune/Money). Now, it's time for you to create a personal top-10 list of companies you'd love to join.
If you're searching for a career, you should research and track at least 10 companies in industries you're interested in. A good strategy for this is to identify your favorite or ideal company (e.g., Coca Cola) and then identify its key competitors (e.g., Pepsi, United Water, Nestle).
To figure out your top-10 companies to research, focus on your main interests based on industry and occupational preferences. If you begin an organized effort to learn about specific companies (and industries), then you can more effectively market why your skills and experiences benefit those potential employers.
Once you develop a list, search for information about your companies, such as hiring activity and "in the news" trends on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, you can also research potential contacts in your network related to your companies of interest. You may also find profiles of other individuals in the company, such as HR recruiters, who post current job opportunities.
This information can enhance your networking efforts. Determine where your skills and experience are a good fit, as well as which companies may be a match for your workplace values.
Stick With It
Once you identify your companies and make your connections, you still need to land a job. This will likely be the hardest part—especially if your companies don't have openings that fit your skills right now.
Your connections will help with this. See if they can introduce you to someone in the area you're interested in, and ask them if they'd do an informational interview with you. Impress them with your preparation and knowledge about the company, and that person will likely keep you in mind when an opening does come up.
And remember, careers last a long time. Even if you're working somewhere not on your list, that doesn't mean you won't end up at one of those companies next year (or the year after that). Keep gaining experience, and keep making contacts. Then, when your dream job is available, you’ll be the dream candidate.