Lauren Celano offers advice on how to identify and research smaller companies that can offer growth opportunities and a variety of skills.
Contributor Lauren Celano
It’s easy to identify large companies in an area of interest, as they work hard to build strong brand recognition and awareness. But how do you identify the small and stealth-mode companies working in your field? Since these companies can provide tremendous growth opportunities and a chance for you to develop a variety of skills, it is important to include them in your target list during your career search. Below are a few suggestions on how to identify these companies and jump-start your search.
Scientific Conferences & meetings
Scientific conferences and meetings provide a wealth of information regarding research in a particular field and the organizations working in and/or supporting the area. Often, conferences and meetings have a website to profile the meeting and highlight the speakers, poster presenters, exhibitors and sponsors. This information is a gold mine for job seekers since all of the organizations profiled could be potential employers. To leverage this resource:
- identify conferences in your areas of interest
- search the associated website(s);
- and make a list of organizations relevant to your background/interests.
Of course, this list may contain a few well-known large companies, but it will also include many (sometimes hundreds of) smaller organizations. For a specific example, if your research focus is cancer, then the AACR meeting website, would be an ideal place to start your search. This list shows the small and large upcoming meetings such as the annual meeting, attended by thousands of people and hundreds of organizations. By browsing the annual meeting event websites like this, you can see which sponsors, exhibitors, and presenters that are attending and find more information about them.
Venture capital firms
Venture capital (VC) firms provide funds to start-up companies and small businesses with perceived long-term growth potential, making them a great resource to learn about innovative entrepreneurial businesses relevant to your interests. Theyoften focus on specific industry sectors, such as biotech, medical device, or healthcare IT, and typically highlight the portfolio companies they invest in on their website. All you need to do is search for VC firms that invest in areas relevant to your interests, go to their website and search their portfolio companies..
The website for the National Venture Capital Association lists hundreds of firms and is a great place to start your research. This should yield a number of entrepreneurial companies that you can add to your company target list.
Industry & organization news feeds and blogs
Staying up-to-date in your research field and relevant industry trends is tremendously valuable during a job search. This allows you to have current information about organizations working in your area and trends influencing it. To leverage this resource, identify relevant new feeds and blogs by searching google, conference sites, and talking with your connections. Then subscribe to them. Scan the news feeds and pay attention to announcements for company creation, funding, partnerships, etc. This should point you in the direction of smaller companies relevant to your interests.
Thousands of news feeds/blogs exist ranging from Xconomy (covering high tech, life sciences, and clean tech entrepreneurial companies) to specific disease site blogs, such as the blog for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Industry associations are a tremendous resource for people working in, or looking to work in, a specific research area and/or location. They lobby for industry support and highlight promising organizations, cutting edge research and trends influencing the area. For a job seeker, this information provides invaluable sector insight. Make the most of this by:
defining the industry sector you are looking for, i. e. medical device, biotech, healthcare IT, etc, and searching to see if your state/country has a dedicated association.
For example, in the biotech field, Massachusetts has a state biotech organization called MassBio, with a membership list of more than 650 companies working in Massachusetts. Countries also have similar organizations. Switzerland has the Swiss Biotech Association, to highlight biotech organizations working in Switzerland. Use these resources to learn more about organizations working in your geographic preference and area of interest.
Leverage the resources available to you to enhance your career search. In addition to learning about organizations, you will also gain valuable insight about your field of research. Good luck and let me know how this goes.
If you’ve got any questions for Lauren, please do leave them in the comments space below. She would be more than happy to answer them.