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Free resources for job seekers (well, ok – you working people can use them too)

Contra Costa LibraryRecently I did a presentation on personal branding and small company branding for the Contra Costa County Library. This was part of a series of sessions on practical business training.

Valerie Zito, the wonderful inspiration for this series, told us about some reference sources available to anybody with a library card. It turns out there are many great resources available online from our library – and I’d bet if you’re not a CCC resident, many of these are available through your own library system.


ReferenceUSA, which is produced by infoUSA, is a huge database of people and businesses in the US. If you have a navigation system in your car, there’s a pretty good chance the points of interest came from these guys. And it’s pretty expensive.  I know this because I negotiated a deal with them in 2000 for the location-based services company I worked for.

What a great resource this can be for you! They have many databases, although not all are available to library users. Here’s the selection you can get through CCC Library:

ReferenceUSA Databases

You can look up specific companies you’re targeting. Here are the results for Financial Visions, the company I used to run:


Click the image to enlarge

Pretty cool stuff, albeit not all accurate. But then none of these databases are ever accurate. This may not provide everything you need to know about your target companies, but it will sure give you a good starting point.

You can also search the database using various selection criteria. The number of resulting matches you can display is limited (they do want to sell their services, after all). To minimize your frustration with their primitive interface (hope they’re not listening, or maybe I hope they are…), remember these databases weren’t really designed for casual users.

You may want to use their quirky query builder, especially if you’re just starting out. Here are the results of a search for executive recruiters in Walnut Creek, CA with 1-9 employees:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

When you click on the company name, you’ll get a screen like the Financial Visions results I showed above.  Here, we find that Nancy Nolan is the President of Nolan Group, and you’ll see the sales she reported (probably to Dunn & Bradstreet). If you scroll down a bit, you’ll get a “Competitor’s Report” which may be very useful for you as well.

It’s easy to see how this could be useful for job seekers. But it’s also a great tool if you have your own business or even if you’re working for somebody else. It’s a great way for sales people to research prospects. Or use it to assess compeitition when you’re writing a business plan. Or maybe just use it to find out that your competitor’s marketing claims were written by a disciple of Timothy Leary.

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  1. Valerie Zito says

    Very nice – thank you.
    It is also a reminder to get a picture so that it can also be posted on the Business Subject guide
    I’m in the process of redoing it so all pages are not quite as I’d like them yet