By Jake Weber
Despite LinkedIn, Google, and the examples set by television crime shows, Web-based background searches aren't always – or often -- easy. "My boss says our job is a little like a murder mystery – sometimes it's really difficult just to confirm that someone is employed where the system says," said communication studies major Mitchell Jeffery, '14. "Or you might be looking for employment data and find out someone's involved in a lawsuit. There can be a sense of accomplishment just finding out where someone works."
Jeffery's "sleuthing" was part of his internship with executive placement firm Korn/Ferry International, based at their office in Philadelphia. Spending most of his time in Korn/Ferry's Healthcare practice and more specifically the life science practice, Jeffery helped the company locate potential CEOs and other senior-level executives.
Finding executive leadership for a Fortune 100 company, Division I university, or comprehensive hospital network can take from six months to a year or more, Jeffery said. "My job was at the beginning of the search cycle. I helped identify a list of qualified candidates, and then other people contacted the candidates and whoever responded, they continued on."
For instance, for a large state institution hiring a dean of libraries, "I looked at comparable schools and profiled their deans and assistant deans," said Jeffery. "This helps clients get an idea of what type of person might be a good match for their institution. Other times, I did executive profiles within companies, and if I found anyone who might fit a position, I could throw them into the pool."
Along with matching candidates to job requirements, Jeffery kept an eye out for "diversity components," a hot issue for Korn/Ferry's Fortune 100 clients. "A lot of people think diversity means racial," said Jeffery, explaining that Korn/Ferry clients also sought diversity by looking for executives from different industries or from different international markets. "Our company is organizing a conference on diversity and inclusion, for CEOs and the top human resources person of our client companies," said Jeffery.
Indeed, the taste of big-city life in Philadelphia gave Jeffery a chance to appreciate population diversity. "I grew up in Marshall, Michigan, where you see people you know at the grocery store," he commented. "I've enjoyed learning about the fast pace, especially in this earlier stage of my career where there's more time for growth and development."
Being even a small part of a process involving six- and seven-figure salaries was an exciting opportunity, one that Jeffery credits in part to his Albion preparation. "Being part of the Gerstacker Institute set me apart, because I understood a lot of ' 'business style,'" said Jeffery. "Before my internship, I'd already done the Gerstacker interview dinner and mock interviews, and the assistance of Career Development was a huge help. When I got there, I was surprised at how many other students in the program didn't even have a finished résumé. Being professional is what got me this internship."