May Career Spotlight: Peter Maki

We sat down with Peter Maki, Principal at The Clearing, a Washington D.C. based management consultancy dedicated to supporting senior leaders as they tackle the most daunting and complex problems facing our nation and their businesses.  In our interview, Mr. Maki discusses how his job search has evolved, rules of job search etiquette, and specific intangibles for pursuing new career opportunities.

JL: Over the course of your career, beginning as a Middle East Project Officer for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) to your current position at The Clearing, how has your job search evolved?

Peter: My career search has evolved quite a bit since my first job. Initially, I simply looked for jobs that sounded interesting and involved international affairs and overseas travel. Getting a good set of experiences and exposure early on is key for a career as it provides a base for future opportunities and career growth. With a good base, since then, my goals and career objectives have become more nuanced with a focus on good management, personality fit, compensation, opportunities for growth, training and incentives and others aspects of the ideal work place.

JL: Looking a bit more in depth into your career, what have been the intangibles in allowing you to successfully find new opportunities pursuant to your specialties?  Are there any approaches that have proven to be inefficient?

Peter: Some intangibles for me have included good networking skills with the ability to leverage alumni and friendship circles, an organized and focused approach to the job hunt, deep knowledge of my own strengths and weaknesses, and a well-practiced ability to communicate a concise vision of the type of job I hope to find.

JL: Speaking in more broad terms, how have you observed the job market, and more specifically the methods used by professionals seeking new jobs, change in the past few years?

Peter: Obviously search methods have tilted largely in favor of the internet vs. paper-based listings. Company websites, aggregate sites like Monster.com, LinkedIn, etc. have grown in popularity. A new era ushered in by social media and email alerts has enabled job searchers to simply have listings sent to them with tailored personal preferences.

JL: How have the avenues for finding employment changed in recent years, especially within management consulting and post-conflict relief and development?  When trying to acquire a job in one of these respective fields, what are certain rules of etiquette that are essential for prospective job seekers?

Peter: In my experience, the most successful avenues of employment still tend to be through people and networks vs. online job postings. Having a great mentor or small group of mentors and a network of people who know you well can help you look for your ideal job. They can act as your “eyes and ears,” and be advocates on your behalf, which will greatly increase chances for success.

The rules of etiquette have largely remained the same. When seeking a job be sure to arrive and end on time, keep informational interviews to 20-30 minutes, and send a follow up email or preferably, hand-written note, thanking the person. In addition to all the above, when going through the interview process itself, never criticize your current or past employers. Highlighting reasons for moving on is acceptable but never badmouth a former colleague or organization.

JL: One of the aspects being focused on in this month’s newsletter is the concept of an elevator speech – a 30 – 60 second business description of what you do and why someone should work with you.  How has your “elevator speech” changed throughout your career?

Peter: Early in my career my elevator speech centered on a one-dimensional description of my college education and basic work experiences. More recently, in additional to my concrete areas of experience, my elevator speech has become much more focused on my “soft skills” such as an ability to make clear decisions under pressure, build and form coalitions, prioritize and executive complex tasks.

Peter Maki is a Principal at The Clearing, a Washington D.C. based management consultancy.  Prior to working at The Clearing, Mr. Maki worked as a Management Consultant at B3 Solutions, Executive Director at the Center for Conflict Relief and Reconstruction (CCRR), and Director of Operations for Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME).  Mr. Maki received a B.A. in Modern European History, a B.A. in Peace, War, and Defense, and a M.A. in Teaching – History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.