Getting Ahead by Being Unprofessional, with Brit Bennett

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Image is an important part of a job search–and career management. You always want to present yourself as a competent, talented and, enthusiastic professional.

But it’s also important that your brand reflects who you are. Ultimately, authenticity matters more than professionalism. Your brand, no matter how polished and practiced, is worthless if it doesn’t reflect your genuine personality.

And sometimes, that means being a bit unprofessional.

On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Portland professional Britt Bennet, shares her experience learning the importance of authenticity. She reads “Get Ahead in Portland by Being Unprofessional”, her contribution to our book, Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond).

While Brittany’s comments are specifically about her experience in Portland’s casual professional culture, her lesson about being authentic will resonate no matter where you are.


Mac Prichard:

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 Mac Prichard your host and publisher of Mac’s List. On today’s bonus episode, we’re sharing 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 job search tips and career management tools in to one simple, easy to read guide. It’s the definitive toolkit for anyone looking for meaningful work.

The book also includes special contributions from an array of job search experts. Today you’ll hear from one of them. Here is Brittany Bennett, project manager at Substance Marketing, reading her contribution. “Get Ahead in Portland by Being Unprofessional.”

Brittany Bennet:

In 2010 I returned to Portland after spending 5 years working in Scottsdale, Arizona and experienced a culture shock. The business community in Scottsdale is dramatically more conservative than it is in Portland. Meaning, I used to wear nylons and blazers to work even when it was over 100 degrees outside.

I’m self employed so I spend a lot of time shaking hands, kissing babies, and most importantly, attending networking events. The first time I attended a networking event in Portland I wore my best black suit and strand of pearls. New to the PDX creative scene, I was desperate for others to see me as an established professional and take me seriously. I was stiff and rigid. I was all business. After the event, a good friend of mine pulled me aside and told me that my work wardrobe needed a makeover. Horrified, I defended my ensemble, “but this is from Nordstrom!”. My friend laughed and replied, “It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it. You looked like an insurance agent and no one wanted to talk to you”.

At the time, I was too busy being offended and judging his graphic tee to really hear him. After I properly licked my wound, I realized that the man had a point. His point extended beyond my wardrobe. Authenticity matters more than professionalism. Being professional is important. Being overtly professional can really work against you. It turns out, I was so uptight, I was not forming personal connections with any of my clients or contacts.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how good your portfolio is. How competitive your prices are, or how fast your turn around time is. If someone doesn’t like you, he or she is not going to do business with you. Period. That’s when I realized I needed to worry less about being professional and more about being authentic. Once I traded my suits for jeans and my collard shirts for graphic blouses, I felt more comfortable at work.

In order to succeed, you need to get personal. I slowed down and realized that getting to know my colleagues and clients was an important part of the business project that should not be rushed. I asked about their families and hobbies. I took a general interest in their interests. Once I made this transformation, my business literally doubled.

Allow what you do professionally to be an extension of who you are personally. You will find that not only will you enjoy what you do more, but others will enjoy working with you more as well.

Mac Prichard:

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’re in Portland Oregon, Portland Maine, or anywhere in-between. The 2016 edition includes new content. For the first time ever, it’s available in paperback as well as in an array of e-reading devices including Kindle, Nook and iBooks. For more information on Land Your Dream Job In Portland and Beyond, visit