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by Connie and Caroline | June 29, 2009


Posted by Caroline Ceniza-Levine

The job search strategy is simple:  identify your target companies, find the decision-makers therein for the jobs you want, contact the decision-makers and sell them on you as the perfect candidate, and Presto!  You get a job.

The above is simple to understand, but it’s not easy to execute.  Many jobseekers don’t know what they want so they don’t know what companies to target.  Many jobseekers don’t know how to position themselves properly.  Sometimes, you do everything right but there is no job at this time, and you have to repeat the process for many more companies till you hit the timing just right. 

But the most frequently asked question that I get at workshops and events is how to find these decision-makers in the first place.  Here are 3 steps to follow:

Find out the department name that does what you want to do.  If you want to do PR-related work at Company X, does X call it Corporate Communications, Communications, Media Relations, or something else?  Find a friendly person – an alum from your school, a family friend – who can give you that lay of the land as it relates to your function.  Don’t rely on general networking.  Seek people out who work there or worked there and ask them specifically:  where is PR handled at X, and what exactly is this department called?

Find out who runs this department and how it is structured.  Once you know that X does PR out of their Media Relations department, find out who runs Media Relations, who s/he reports to, works for him or her, and what everybody is responsible for.  In other words, get as close to filling out an organizational chart for Media Relations at X as you can.  Again, this means you can’t rely on general networking but must ask specific questions.  Ask the friendly ally from above.  Other good sources could be a PR trade association, where an expert there may know the structure of different firms.  You want to know:  Who runs Media Relations?  How big is that department?  How is the work divided? 

Find out how this department hires its people.  Do they hire only experienced people from similar firms, or do they have entry-level spots?  Do they only take referrals, use HR to post, work with a specific search firm?  What skills, background and experience do they hire?  Some firms only want people with agency experience.  Some people hire at the entry-level and promote from within.  Some are not specific in the methods they use.  You need to know what they do so you can position yourself accordingly.

After you have the above information, you are ready to make your approach.  You know names and have a context within which you can promote yourself effectively.  Now, you need to be brave enough to act on this information.  But having this level of detailed information is a big confidence-booster.  You will find that now that you know something (a lot in fact) about your target you will feel more comfortable when you approach them.  Knowledge is power in the job search.

Directory Assistance On-Campus / How To Find The Right People For Your Search

Posted by Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio

An on-campus job search requires the identification of key players that can make or break your search.  Here is a list of such players with strategies of how to work with them:


Director of Career Services:  This is someone you want to know and impress.  This person knows all the firms, about all their opportunities, and even the business managers that ultimately hire the candidates.  Attend an orientation at Career Services and listen to everything that is said there.  Then, follow their instructions and get to know them personally.  They can move heaven and earth for you.  When I recruited at Citigroup, Warner-Lambert, and Merrill Lynch, I always had strong relationships with these folks and what they said and who they referred carried a lot of weight. 


Other Career Services Staff:  Career Services at larger schools have various contacts per discipline.  I always worked closely with the Financial Services rep and got to know them very well.  They got me the best dates on campus, and I followed up with a student they thought highly of.  It wasn’t one hand washing another … it was mutual respect and appreciation.  Big hint here:  have manners, and treat them all like gold.  If it’s a smaller school you go to, the rule still applies:  treat everyone in career services like gold.


Professors:  Many of them are asked by companies to participate in projects and many business representatives give guest lectures.  They can have “ins” with important business reps so always seek to impress.


Company representatives & marketing events:  When Wharton was one of our target schools, we went on campus over 20 times a year.  Attend as many of these events as possible if you are very interested in the company because your attendance is noticed and does count towards serious consideration.


Your school peers:  You never know who people know.  I just conducted a mock interview with a young man who’s father knows EVERYONE is the accounting field … EVERYONE.  Be good to your peers because you never know when they will extend a helping hand.  Rule of thumb:  treat everyone with respect and try to help as many people as you can.  I believe it all comes around in the end.


When conducting an on-campus job search, keep those antennae up high.  Notice everything.  Participate in as much as you can.  Treat everyone with respect.  Try to help people even when there is nothing “in it” for you.  Pay attention, and I think you’ll be surprised in the good karma that will come right back to you.


Filed Under: Job Search|Networking

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