The Three Criteria Of An Actionable Job Search Target

Guest Author: Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart (, a career coaching firm that specializes in working with Gen Y young professionals. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed campus recruiting for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others.

In the last few weeks, one of my most asked questions has been, “Is financial services still a safe place to have a career?” I hear this from students and graduates, unemployed and working, inexperienced and mid-career, from different schools and backgrounds. I normally respond with my spiel on how all sectors have boom and bust cycles and how the only real safety is the security of having good career management skills.

But it also reminds me about how often people are not specific enough when they talk about targets for their career and especially their job search. Financial services is not a specific enough target. A target is only specific enough when you can take action against it. To take action in your job search you need to identify three criteria for each of your interests:
Some people refer to financial services as the industry – banking, insurance, accounting, etc. That’s fine, except what specifically would you be doing within each of these firms? That’s where the function comes in. Are you in PR at a bank? Are you in actuarial science at an insurer? Are you a tax specialist, a legal specialist, an operations consultant at an audit firm? Targeting financial services is too broad.

Similarly, some people say financial services when they are thinking of just a specific functional area therein, such as corporate finance. But finance functions aren’t limited to financial services firms. There are M&A groups, finance/ accounting departments, and other finance-related functions within non-financial corporates. That’s where the industry comes in. If you have identified that you want to do M&A, then investment banking may be one industry, oil & gas may be another, media, consumer products, etc.

Finally, the difficult market is a global phenomenon but there are pockets of the world that are doing better than others. Knowing the state of financial services in general is not as important as knowing how the companies in your target industry and function are faring in the geography of interest to you. This may mean that you need to keep updated on the Asian markets, or the West Coast, instead of where you are.
An informed jobseeker is specific in what s/he wants and goes after. This means selecting an industry, function and geography for each target search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

5 comments on “The Three Criteria Of An Actionable Job Search Target”

  1. Anthony Reply

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. I want to share news aboutcollege which is offers beyond-the- classroom experience to students in the rapidly-expanding industries of Health Care, Criminal Justice, Business, and Computers. Don't miss out on great career opportunities.

  2. hiremax: staffing services Reply

    Superb advice from this post to conduct an effective job search.

  3. Rachel Connors Reply

    This is such great fundamental advice. To me, it seems like something that everyone vaguely understands but cannot pin down and put into words. I am definitely passing this along.

  4. Laurie Berenson Reply

    This is excellent advice! To conduct a truly effective job search, you must drill down more specifically than just “financial services” (in this example). The exercise of identifying industry, function, and geography should also help you think outside the box for new places to utilize your skillset.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *