How to Get an Oregon Government Job, with Mac Prichard

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Government jobs are always tough to land. Mastering the oft-byzantine application process takes practice and insider know-how.

In this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Mac Prichard shares his experience applying for Oregon government jobs. Mac has worked in multiple departments for the State of Oregon, as well as for several local and state-level elected officials.

Mac reads “How To Get An Oregon Government Job”, his contribution to our book, Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond).

While Mac speaks primarily about his experience in Oregon, the practical lessons Mac shares are generally applicable to any government job, whether at the federal, state or local level.


Ben Forstag:   

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want and make a difference in life. I’m Ben Forstag, your temporary host and Managing Director of Mac’s List. On today’s bonus episode, we’re sharing some exclusive content from our new book, Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond.

Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond compiles all of our best job search tips and career management tools into one simple, easy to read guide. It is the definitive tool kit for anyone looking for meaningful work. The book also includes special contributions from an array of job search experts and today you’ll hear from one of them.

Here’s Mac Prichard, founder of Mac’s List and president of Prichard Communications reading his contribution, “How to Get an Oregon Government Job, Four Lessons Learned.”

Mac Prichard:

How to Get an Oregon Government Job, Four Lessons Learned.

Before starting my own public relations company, I had the good fortune to work as a communication officer in Oregon state and local government, as well as at Portland State University. I had some wonderful jobs, including stints in the Governor’s office and at Portland City Hall. Here are four lessons I learned for you to consider when you apply for a government job in Oregon or anywhere else.

Lesson number one: pay attention to keywords. A human resource office assigns your application a score. The ranking you receive depends on the words you use and how closely your application text matches a position description. Long ago, a veteran state employee advised me to highlight key words in a job posting and make sure I used the same phrases. Once I did this, my scores went up and I received more interviews.

Lesson number two: respect deadlines or else. Here’s an embarrassing story. Back in 1991 when I lived in Boston, I applied for a communications job with an Oregon school district. On the first day of a business trip, the phone rang in my hotel room. The caller was an assistant at the school district; she tracked me down and asked me to respond in writing to a set of questions by Friday. The internet did not exist. I had no computer and I had five days of meetings ahead of me. I told the assistant I would fax her my essays after the Friday deadline. Big mistake. When I called weeks later, I learned that I was not a candidate. Deadlines are a big deal, especially in government.

Lesson number three: take a job no one wants. In the spring of 1994, I accepted a temporary stint managing public relations for the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division, the DMV. I was probably the only person in Oregon who wanted the job. For months, the media had reported about a stalled overhaul of the DMV’s computers. The project was $50 million over budget and it pushed wait times at DMV offices to more than three hours. It was one of the best gigs I ever had because the leadership team at DMV had a plan to reduce wait times. This made my job as a communicator much easier because I was explaining how my employer was solving the problem.

Lesson number four: networking still matters. Most government jobs rely on a formal application process. Yes, you need to score high on written tests. It also helps to know interviewers through informational interviews and involvement in professional groups. Networking counts most if you want a staff job with an elected official. I’ve worked for two, Earl Blumenauer, now in Congress, but we worked together when he was a Portland City Commissioner, and John Kitzhaber in his first term as Oregon governor. I learned about both positions through informational interviews and through networking meetings.

Ben Forstag:  

If you’re looking for more expert advice and insider tips like what you just heard, check out Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond. You’ll find everything you need to get a great job, whether you are in Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine or anywhere in between. The 2016 edition includes new content and, for the first time ever, it’s available in paperback and an array of e-reading devices including Kindle, Nook and iBooks.

For more information on Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond, visit, and you can search here for Oregon jobs that are available now.