Great Jobs for Portland and Beyond

Don’t Do These 4 Things When Looking for Work in Portland

Posted on by Heather Cyrus

I graduated from the University of Oregon with a packed resume in 2011, including five internships, and figured all my career dreams would fall into place with ease. But after sending out resumes and cover letters for six months, I landed only two phone interviews.

My positive spirit was slowly crushed and as the weeks and months passed, I realized my dream job simply wasn’t coming to fruition. For most of 2012, I was a waitress to pay the bills.

My plan was to work part-time while I continued to pursue my career goals on the side. However, as months passed, I got so burnt out that I put my career search on hiatus.

In 2013, I re-evaluated my job search tactics. I knew I had a great resume for a recent graduate, so what was I doing wrong?

It turns out my biggest mistake had been my approach to my job search. Don’t repeat these four errors I made when you’re looking for a job in Portland:

Be Over-Confident

Confidence is a great quality, but you have to maintain a sense of realism. I wasted my time applying for jobs I wasn’t qualified for. It’s an employers market right now, and if a job posting asks for five years of experience, you can bet that’s the minimum required.

Forget Your Online Presence

I was applying for positions that had a social media component, yet I wasn’t engaging in my own accounts – that doesn’t leave a great impression! I hadn’t even listed my college graduation on my LinkedIn profile, let alone all the internships I had completed. My blog hadn’t been updated in nearly a year; it had broken links, and a two-year old resume in the portfolio section. Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you even send out that first resume.

Never Network

I knew I should be networking, but it sounded uncomfortable and so I never even tried. I didn’t request an informational interview or attend any networking events, and obviously wasn’t meeting anyone on LinkedIn or Twitter. At the time, I thought I could just skip over this step. I was so confident my dream job would be around the corner, why do something that was intimidating?

Apply Only to Online Job Postings

As a result of the mistakes mentioned above, I only applied to online postings. I had four to five places I would look every week, and that’s it. The problem with this tactic is that 200+ other individuals are applying for those jobs too! In today’s market, only 80% of jobs are ever posted, and a handful of those are already filled with in-house candidates so a posting is often just a legal requirement. This is why networking is so important.

In my next four posts, I’ll share insights I’ve gained over the past few months that can alleviate some of the job search struggle you may be encountering.

What have you learned the hard way during your search for that dream job?

(Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on The University of Oregon’s Career Center blog.)

Image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user bionicteaching

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About Heather Cyrus

Heather Cyrus works part time as the Communications Director for MKG Financial Group, Inc. and freelances performing social media, copy writing & editing, web design, and event planning. With a background in environmental studies, her niche is environmental communications. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @heathercyrus or LinkedIn.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/robin.engle Robin Engle

    Calling it ‘networking’ automatically sucks all the fun out of it and turns connecting with people into a terrible chore for pompous self-promoters. Who wants to do that? I do better and have more fun when I’m ‘hanging out with people from the (environmental, political, insert here) community’. Once you know a few folks and have some friends the pain is gone.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherCyrus Heather Cyrus

    Robin- I couldn’t agree more. What was once an overwhelming idea for me, has turned into a pleasure (most of the time). I really love attending events where meeting people is only part of the agenda, and usually you are in a room full of like-minded folks, makes it much more comfortable! I went to an event recently that didn’t have much to do with my interests because I’m always trying to do new things, but it was obvious pretty quickly I wasn’t in my element. So I simply left when I saw an appropriate exit point and learned a valuable lesson. Thanks for the comment!

  • kate

    Where do you find out about networking events? I don’t even know where to begin to look. I keep hearing how important networking is, though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jessicajoellen Jessica Williams

      Kate ~ Check out all these great blog posts on networking events in Portland: http://www.macslist.org/category/networking-events-portland/

      • Kate

        Thanks for the link! I will read it.

    • http://twitter.com/HeatherCyrus Heather Cyrus

      Kate, I’m going to publish another post specifically on networking in the coming weeks, but I have been a huge fan of Meetup lately. [ http://www.meetup.com/find/ ] I can’t believe I didn’t know the organization existed until a few weeks ago, but there are hundreds of groups in Portland with nearly every interest you can think of. Some are just social events, while others offer educational workshops etc. I went to one on Google Analytics last week that was fantastic. I just got into the Volunteer Vixens group (on Meetup)- volunteering and networking!

      • Kate

        Thanks for the info, I have never heard of meetup. I will check it out.

  • Beth

    In addition to the points above – I would recommend adding in these additional steps to help bolster your networking / job search:
    1. Ask for informal meetings (always go to them) over coffee or as an office visit. Do not make this about you searching for a job, but go with relevant questions about their industry and specifically their industry in Portland. It’s a great way to get advice, meet industry contacts and a step ahead of your competitors.
    2. Engage with people – especially if you are looking for a communications job. Retweeting, reposting, curating content. It’s one thing to post about yourself, it’s another completely to show you are an industry resource.
    3. Volunteer or take that low-paying internship job. It’s a bummer but a lot of companies these days are using independent contracting as a way to test employees out before hiring. If you can swing it, take the opportunity – the experience will help push you ahead of your competitors and make you more attractive to other potential companies
    4. Use #pdxjobs (especially if you’re in the tech industry) to get leads on opportunities. Another great tech resources is Silicon Florist. Obviously, MacsList is PDX job king ;)

    • http://twitter.com/HeatherCyrus Heather Cyrus

      Beth, thanks for sharing all the great suggestions. I haven’t heard of Silicon Florist, I will have to look that resource up! Definitely agree about the volunteer / internship point. I’m doing a “Volunteer for a Year” blog series on my own blog that highlights great non-profits and my experiences volunteering with them (trying for a new one each month). It’s a great way to network and meet like-minded folks too. Link to blog series: http://heathercyrus.com/2013/03/22/a-year-to-volunteer/