Reference USA

How to Use the Reference USA Database to Find a Job in 2023

Reference USA (now Reference Solutions), a 43-million active business online database, is a big data job search dream. Big businesses, medium-sized businesses, small businesses, it has them all!

It’s an almost complete directory of US businesses. Beyond that, Reference Solutions/Reference USA can be searched by several fields that job seekers care about, including:

  1. Industry
  2. Revenue
  3. Number of employees
  4. City
  5. State
  6. Zipcode

The search results help job seekers find and focus their efforts on the best potential employers. Thus, they save a lot of time.

Users can enter search terms, and the database will return a list of matching employers. From there, it lets people drill down on each employer for more information and a link to the company’s website.

Free Access to the Reference Solutions/Reference USA Database

If you’re asking, “How much does the database cost?” I have the best answer. It’s free.

About 85% of US public libraries subscribe to the database if you’re wondering where to find it. They provide access to anyone who has a library card.

Thus, a job seeker can drop into their library, go to the reference desk, and ask a librarian to show them how to access the database there and from home.

Online Access

However, most libraries provide online access to the database, so job seekers don’t have to visit their libraries in person.

You can go to your library’s website and check the Electronic Resources section to see if they carry Reference Solutions/Reference USA.

I need my library card and its PIN to get access. I get a free download of a certain amount of files per day — more than enough to keep a job seeker busy with employer leads.

If your library doesn’t offer the database, you can ask to get access via a partner library.

It’s Easy to Learn How to Use Reference Solutions/Reference USA

After logging in, the database is easy to use.

Watch this video for an in-depth understanding of how to research businesses and spot target companies:

Watch this video to understand the complete integration between the database and Indeed’s job ads:

You can also:

  1. Register for a bi-monthly webinar offered by Reference Solutions, especially for job seekers, on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month at 10:00 a.m. CT.
  2. Ask a reference librarian for help.
  3. Click around and discover how to use the database by experimenting with it.

Plus, don’t miss the comments below. You will find more learning resources and a story about a happy outcome!

Guidestar, a Similar Database for Nonprofits

But what if a job seeker wants to work for a nonprofit? Good news! There’s a similar database for that — It lists almost all of the nonprofits in the U.S.

Happy hunting!

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Image: stokkete
Updated January 2022

© 2010 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 7

  1. Donna –
    Aren’t public libraries a terrific and underused resource! This is one of the first resources I included in my book. Great post!

  2. Any job seeker that is glued to the chair in front of their pc and not utilizing their local public library is missing out. I think using ReferenceUSA for that reason alone is enough. Very good resource article and I will be sure to pass along the information.

    Derek Dostal

  3. Thanks Donna! We’ve had the opportunity to work with local libraries all around the country and share ‘best practices’ when using ReferenceUSA as part of a Career Search Strategy. If your local library has not sponsored one of these FREE! workshops, you may want to contact them. In the interim, we host a regularly scheduled webcast that specifically addresses folks who are new to using ReferenceUSA or anyone who might want to hone their skills.
    These hour-long, interactive presentations are open to anyone and are also FREE! – all anyone would need is internet access and a dedicated phone line.
    These are held every Friday at 11 AM Central (Noon EST/ 9 AM PST).
    To register: call 800 808 1113 for more information. Seating is limited!

  4. Thanks for the info Rick. I’m posting it to #jobhuntchat, #careerchat, and #hfchat this week. My job search clients invariably discover target companies they’ve NEVER heard of when they use RefUSA. I’m an evangelist for your wonderful, FREE database!


  5. At BJM, we’ve been Teaching all our job seekers that “The Modern Public Library will make what you can find on Google look pathetic.”
    Of course, very few know about the Google Advanced Search box, which does help people search more effectively. But even so, we always stress – “Get to know your local Reference Librarian.”
    I’ve seen people use SIC or NAICS codes and Reference USA to find employers doing their specific kind of work. We had one Operations Manager who was very depressed, until we got him to go the library. On Reference USA using NAICS codes, he found 130+ companies within 10 miles who could be employing an Operations Manager. Within six weeks he was hired full time at a great job.
    Ironically, we had the Reference Librarian from the Harris County Barbara Bush Library presenting to our Senior Manager’s Group…. Yesterday morning and she was singing the praises of Reference USA.

  6. Rich,

    Truer words were never spoken! Thank you for sharing your testimonials for ReferenceUSA and reference librarians.

    Now that ReferenceUSA has partnered up with Indeed it’s a more powerful job search tool than ever.


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