Horizon Media Event Offers Advice for Job Seekers

CEO Bill Koenigsberg Aims to Keep People From Leaving the Industry

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The U.S. media industry has cut 87,200 jobs since the recession began in December 2007, according to an Ad Age DataCenter analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But one media agency that's in the enviable position of growing during this downturn used its good fortune to try to help some of those less fortunate in the business.

Bill Koenigsberg
Bill Koenigsberg
Earlier this week Horizon Media held a free career workshop for nearly 200 unemployed media professionals called "Developing Your Personal Brand: The Key to Landing Your Next Job." In a meeting room at the New York Helmsley Hotel, consultants from New York-based Partners in Human Resources International, a full-service human-resources company that co-sponsored the event, doled out advice on building a personal brand, looking for jobs online, interviewing and more. During breaks and a Q&A session, job seekers networked and shared job-hunting tips, such as where to buy inexpensive business cards.

Bill Koenigsberg, president-CEO of Horizon, the largest independently held media agency in the U.S., said he wanted to do something to give back to the media industry. "We have to take a leadership position so that people don't leave the industry," he said, adding that he hoped workshop attendees would walk away from the event feeling confident about their talents, hopeful about their future place in media and assured that they have the tools to help them land that next job.

Horizon promoted the event on its website and Facebook page, the 4A's website and Mediabistro, as well as in e-mail blasts and via Twitter. Partners in Human Resources also helped spread the word.

"Things have changed in media," said Amy Friedman, president-CEO and founder of Partners in Human Resources. "But that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities." She said job seekers need to be aware of media roles in non-media companies, such as banks and credit-rating agencies. And though it sounds counterintuitive, mergers and acquisitions in the media space actually have created new jobs.

Ms. Friedman said those types of companies are in need of new talent. "In a sense, [they are] like a start-up. They may be going in a different direction," she said.

Tips from the workshop
Some valuable tips from Partners in Human Resources consultants Howard Leifman and Elizabeth Sheer: Never use size smaller than a 10-point font on your resume or cover letter; hold off talking about salary until you know you have won over your interviewer; and if you cannot find out the name of the person to whom you should address your cover letter, write "Dear Hiring Manager."

"'To Whom it May Concern' makes me nauseous," Mr. Leifman said. "'Dear Sir/Madam' is even worse."

Some more pragmatic advice: Network with your friends' friends; follow up an interview with a personalized thank-you note; and limit your resume to one page if you have less than 10 years of experience.

Another piece of advice: Have your business cards on you at all times -- but those in the room already knew that.

"You never know who you're going to meet anywhere," said workshop attendee Cecilia Pineda Feret, who came to the event because she is interested in getting a job in social media (and gave her card to Ad Age). "You need to be ready to present yourself, what you're looking for and what you offer."

Taking a longer view
On Horizon's website, the first three words that greet visitors are "Business is personal." And in the recession, those three words might be what the media industry -- and clients -- need. Mr. Koenigsberg said because Horizon is not publicly held, he does not face pressure from Wall Street and can run the agency with a much longer view.

Horizon, which has about 500 employees across its four offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Amsterdam, has not laid off anyone in the past two years. The agency has made 40 new hires since January, and Mr. Koenigsberg said he expects to have 600 employees next year. No doubt the event elevated Horizon's status among these job-seeking media types, and in the industry at large.

"I didn't do the [event] for the hope of people saying good things about Horizon," Mr. Koenigsberg said, defending his altruism. (His agency put $10,000 toward the event.) Still, he conceded, "If there's a residual benefit to us, that's great."

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