The other day I was working with an individual who is conducting a job search and she told me she was looking for an “Assistant Account Executive” type role in a media communications firm. For those out there who are not familiar with either the job title or industry, here is a quick primer. A media communications firm offers clients advice/assistance/strategy about executing the client’s marketing, branding, advertising and/or PR/communications efforts. An account executive would be the liaison between the client and the firm, handling any ongoing projects, communicating with the client, and trying to grow the business between the media communications firm and its client.
I encouraged her to think of her job search through a new lens; she should view herself as an account executive for herself (she is the company) and her target/future employers as her “company’s” clients. Through this view, she would be promoting herself (the company) to her clients (future employers). This helped her see the correlation between success in the job search and professional world:
Communication: If an account executive goes months without interacting with a client, it is safe to say the client will take its business elsewhere. The same holds true with networking in one’s job search. If you do not stay in contact with your networking contacts they will not stay part of your ‘network’ for long. Additionally, while email is good for some communication between the client and account executive, one must get on the phone and have face-to-face meetings in order for the relationship to move forward. This same advice holds true for networking and the job search – get off email and get in front of the decision makers if one wants the job search to move forward.
Growth: A good account executive builds the relationship with a client from an initial interaction or project to additional/larger projects. The successful account executive does not want a one-time collaboration with a client, but rather works hard to build relationships that will grow the business. The same concept holds true for networking relationships. In the ideal sense, a small initial interaction will be developed by the job seeker into a robust relationship. This robust relationship could lead to introductions, referrals, and recommendations for jobs.
Pitch: An account executive does not use the same exact pitch for every client. While the foundation may be the same, the details of the pitch should be client dependent – tailored to the needs of the individual client. For the individual applying for jobs, this means one should tweak application materials (resumes, cover letters, etc.) to reflect the needs of the unique position and company.
Specialize: The media communication firm that handles the Boeing account is probably not the same one that handles the GoDaddy.com one. In addition to these two organizations being in very different industries, their company culture, size, approach to branding, and overall communication needs are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Job seekers need to realize the unique nature of firms and focus on appropriate ones that match the seeker’s criteria. Are you looking in a certain geographic area? Size of firm – Fortune 500 or more intimate setting? Culture – conservative or pushing the envelope? Types of clients/services/products of the employer? By focusing your scope of employers to ones that are the strongest match, you will be able to focus your search time and energies on the companies with whom you best align.
This comparison helped the individual see that the job search is much like her future job. The skills she claims to have that make her a strong candidate for job openings should also be employed in her search. Get out there and be the best account executive for You, Inc.
Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center. In this role, he leads the center’s employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies. He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.