Find a firm to work for in fund list Job search: If you're looking for work, researching the companies in mutual fund lists could pay big returns.

Working LIFE

January 07, 1996|By Deborah L. Jacobs | Deborah L. Jacobs,CHRONICLE FEATURES

When looking for a job, many people turn to the classified pages. Dana Miley looked at mutual funds.

Mr. Miley didn't want to invest. His goal was to locate small companies where he might find an entry-level position.

Mr. Miley came to this creative job-hunting strategy by a roundabout route. Like so many of his college classmates, he spent his senior year mailing resumes -- some 100 of them. He focused on big entertainment companies, covering all the household names. By graduation day last June, he didn't even have a nibble. So Mr. Miley, 23, packed his Jeep and left for Hollywood in search of gainful employment.

Risky business to be sure, but just the kind of nerve that appealed to Iwerks Entertainment, a small Burbank, Calif., company that manufactures and markets giant movie screens and motion-simulated theaters.

Mr. Miley had plucked the company's name from a mutual-fund report, an idea he got from the book "The New Rules of the Job Search Game," by Jackie Larson and Cheri Comstock (Bob Adams Inc.). At the time he first contacted the company, he was mixing fruit drinks at a Beverly Hills juice bar.

Getting the job at Iwerks involved serendipity. Mr. Miley called the company to request a copy of its annual report, and the person who answered the phone asked him why he wanted it. "I'm researching small, fast-growing companies as possible places to work, and I want to find out more about Iwerks," he said, without directly asking for a job. It turned out Iwerks had an opening for a marketing coordinator and, within a month, Mr. Miley landed the $27,000-a-year position.

Although Mr. Miley's job hunt moved faster than most, he was clever to use mutual funds as leads to small companies. Mutual funds, which invest in many different stocks and sell their own shares to the public, look for companies that are good investments.

By targeting small companies that mutual funds have already invested in, you may reach growing enterprises long before other job-hunters. One new fund, Warburg Pincus Post-Venture Capital Fund ([800] 257-5614), scours the market for businesses that have recently gone public.

If you want to fish in a bigger pond, check Morningstar Mutual Funds, a highly-regarded newsletter available in many libraries, advises Carole Gould, author of "The New York Times Guide to Mutual Funds" (Times Books). Start with the biweekly summary section, which includes each fund's objective (abbreviated "Obj"). Note funds with the objective "SC" (for "small company"). You'll find phone numbers on the separate page for each fund.

To zero in on companies that might be good places to work, Ms. Gould recommends looking at "socially responsible" funds. Before investing in a particular company, these funds look at its corporate conscience, including its environmental policies, community involvement, and whether the business meets government labor rules. Companies that pass these tests probably have forward-thinking management, Ms. Gould says. Examples of socially responsible funds that own stocks in some small companies: Ariel Growth ([800] 292-7435); the Parnassus Fund ([800] 999-3505); Calvert Capital Accumulation ([800] 368-2745); and New Alternatives ([800] 423-8383).

Once you have a fund name, call to request a copy of its shareholder report (different from the prospectus). This document gives you all the companies in the fund's investment portfolio (sometimes arranged by industry). Occasionally, the report includes a thumbnail description of the company's products or services. After that, go back to the library and research (for instance): what exactly the company does, where it has offices, whether it's expanding or contracting, and how it stacks up against others in the industry.

Time-consuming as it sounds, your legwork can yield huge dividends. You might very well hitch your fortune to a rising star.

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