Alumni Career Services Coach Marty Speight interviews Mike Rabinovitz (MBA ’08). Rabinovitz has spent fourteen years in marketing and consumer packaged goods (CPG) with Hershey, General Mills and New Balance. A desire to build brands in the health and wellness space led Rabinovitz to his latest job as head of brand marketing for Echelon Fitness, a connected-fitness company that manufactures and sells fitness equipment and content subscriptions.    

When you found yourself looking for a new job, how did you kick off the effort?

The very first step was to figure out what I wanted to do next. It’s a bit of a daunting task, in that there is this internal tension to not limit any opportunities by narrowing the focus too much. For me, I had developed a passion over the years for building brands in the ‘better-for-you’ space. Also, after spending the majority of my time in big Fortune 500 companies, I had a desire to work in more of an entrepreneurial environment and leverage the skills that I’ve developed to help emerging brands grow. Ultimately, I wanted a place that I could feel like I was making a direct impact and doing it in a space I was passionate about. I focused my elevator pitch to this: “looking for opportunities to leverage my extensive marketing experience to help emerging brands growth in the healthy, active and sustainable living sectors, with target companies in the range $25M-$250M.”

The second step — get to networking!  I started by making a list of the top 25 people I thought could help me the most. These weren’t necessarily the people that I was the closest to, but an amalgamation of folks I felt like I not only had a good relationship with and that they would pick up the phone to help, but also had some connections to the kinds of opportunities I was seeking.

How did you use LinkedIn to help develop a target list and find leads?

While job placement stats that get thrown around suggest that four out of five jobs come from your network, I don’t think that means you shouldn’t look for jobs on places like LinkedIn. Rather, it means that once you find a job that feels like the right fit, instead of applying and having your resume going to a black hole, you need to use your network to help get your resume to the top of that list. And that is where LinkedIn excels. I used its job search functionality to identify relevant job postings, and then was able to see who I was connected at those companies. If I applied for a job at a company where I had a connection, I usually dropped a note to that connection letting them know I’d applied and asking for help in getting a referral to the hiring manager.

Additionally, there are many job postings where the company is not listed because the search is being run by a recruiting firm. This can make it tough to network your resume to the top of the list. A way to overcome this is by paying for LinkedIn’s premium access, which gives you the ability to contact the recruiter directly, a feature I leveraged often and ultimately helped me land.

How did you ask for help from those in your network?

Armed with my contact list and elevator pitch, I was ready to make the calls. Since I was targeted in what I was looking for, those initial contacts knew how to help me and who to put me in touch with, so every conversation led to four more people to talk to, and that initial list of 25 quickly grew to over 100 people! By being clear on my objective — seeking marketing opportunities in the healthy, active space — it made it easy for those contacts to say, “oh yeah, I know this person who runs this Kombucha company, you should talk to him,” or “I know this recruiter who focuses on that space.”

What gave you the edge in the job you landed?

Deploying a two-pronged attack —  spiritedly networking and job searching —  proved the right strategy and gave me the edge in landing my opportunity. My job came about through leveraging the LinkedIn job board to find opportunities that fit my search criteria. The premium membership enabled me to reach out to the recruiter who posted the position and break through noise (they’d gotten 3000-plus resumes for that posting!).  After connecting directly with the recruiter, I uncovered that the hiring manager had previously worked at General Mills.  While I didn’t know this person directly, it just so happened that in my networking journey that same week I connected with someone who knew the manager well and offered to put in a good word. That landed me the interview and the rest is history.

What was the best advice you got from your network during this search?

The job search can be an arduous and lonely journey, filled with self-doubt and anxiety.  However, it can also be an exciting opportunity to meet new people and uncover opportunities you never knew existed. If you approach it with the later frame of mind, have confidence in your abilities, and most importantly, be clear on what you want from your network, you will end up where you want to be.

If you are seeking a new role, reach out to Alumni Career Services to schedule a time to meet with one of our coaches.