Digging Deep into Self Exploration: Josh Belzman’s Job Search Success Story

Listen On:


Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 58:

Digging Deep into Self Exploration: Josh Belzman’s Job Search Success Story

Airdate: November 7, 2022

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 your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

One of the best ways to get good at job hunting is to talk to people who do it well. 

That’s why once a month, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love. 

Our guest today is Josh Belzman. He’s the analytics manager at Zenith Media Services. 

His company offers a full spectrum of media communications, from analytics, data, and technology to marketing, content, and trading. 

Josh Belzman believes in the power of digging deep when looking for work. 

In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Josh says that when he asked questions of himself and employers, the answers helped him better understand what he offered and how to tell his career story. 

Josh, why do you love your job? 

Josh Belzman: 

Where to begin? You know, I’m a curious person, and that was actually key in my job search, which we’ll touch on later. But, you know, one of the great opportunities I have is to learn a new industry in terms of the client my team is working with, as well as, in this particular job, actually learning about agency life. 

I’d spent the previous twenty-plus years of my career on the client side and was really looking to change things up and see things from another perspective and bring the perspective that I had gained, you know, as a client of so many agencies. 

And so, this particular position is really checking all of those boxes, and every day is a great learning experience, and I’m really feeling, you know, kind of a new sense of energy, engagement, and kind of intellectual stimulation through this role. 

Mac Prichard: 

Tell us about your work at Zenith Media Services. 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, so it varies by the day, and one of the pieces that really attracted me to this position is that we were onboarding a new client, in this case, a pharmaceutical giant, and so, there were a lot of pieces to build around that. You know, analytic systems and tools and new relationships to strike up within our own organization, working with media buyers, and strategists, and data governments, data engineering folks. 

What’s nice about Zenith is the vast amount of resources there are given that it’s operating under the Publicis umbrella, and there’s a lot of talent and smart people there. So you get to tap into that and, you know, work with folks to build out reporting systems and tools and then, you know, work with the client to help them better understand how, in our case, digital media is performing and, you know, kind of what kind of optimizations we’re making to do better and better. Which is kind of the operating motto of our group. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, let’s talk about your job search, Josh. Your employer’s headquarters are in London you work remotely from the Pacific Northwest. What did you do differently in looking for and getting a remote job? 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, so in just to clarify there. So, Publicis is international and based in London; under that is Zenith, which has offices in a few different major cities here in the US. But, it’s right that this is a remote position, and so, yeah. I mean, most of the networking and connection building was done online through, you know, LinkedIn and email, and really just tapping into the networks I’ve been able to build up, and, you know, I think one of the learnings I’ve had along the way is that you need to, you know, really stick at it. Stick with it, I should say, and, you know, keep in touch with folks, and you can’t really take it for granted, perhaps in a way you can when you can just hop into an office or across town when you need to speak to somebody, you know, just given the vast amount of communication we all have with each other’s social networks. 

You really need to keep on top of things and, you know, check in, double-check on things, and maybe not be so worried about pestering people. You know, I think sometimes we get a little gun shy on that, and that really, if you want something to happen, you need to be proactive and let people know you’re interested, and yeah. 

Mac Prichard: 

Was there something that you did differently when looking for work remotely and online than you might’ve done three or four years ago when you were still going to offices? 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, I think, you know, you really have to put your online research skills to work. Right? And, you know, using some of those tools available, like, LinkedIn’s very handy for showing you connections between companies and people you know who are connected to a company or, you know, may know somebody there. I think that’s really effective, and I mean, that really goes for work whether it’s remote or otherwise. 

And then, you know, setting up calls and, you know, trying to look for opportunities to have conversations, you know, either over the phone or through Zoom, and really, you know, kind of put a face and a voice to yourself, so you are more than just a, you know, a printed resume that they’re viewing or an email. And so, I definitely took advantage of that opportunity and had some, you know, calls and, you know, FaceTime type conversations both with recruiters I was working with and then, you know, eventually with the companies I was interviewing with. 

I found that really helpful and that it did build a rapport, and it also, you know, take the opportunity to be yourself. You know, whether if you’ve got a creative or fun background in your room, you know, share that. In my case, I’ve got, you know, some Legos that I’m proud of, and I have them in the backdrop of my room, and, you know, I make sure that’s visible when I’m doing a Zoom call. You know, it can be a conversation topic or if you’ve got, you know, a cat or a dog who’s your faithful assistant in your office. You know, talk about that, and rather than shooing them out of the room necessarily, maybe bring it up and ask the person you’re talking with if they have pets and, you know, it can give you something in common and, I think, help humanize you as a job applicant. 

Mac Prichard: 

Your job search went on for some time, and in your article for us, you’re very candid that one of your challenges was staying confident and positive during your search. Tell us more about that.

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, when I began my job search, and this was just about two years ago, you know, and I think I mentioned this in my piece, I was really feeling on top of my game because I had learned a lot of data analytics, and data architecture skills in my position, and felt like those were, you know valuable skills that would translate well to most any place I was applying, and I was getting a lot of bites, you know, and I felt good. I was getting interviews. Went through, you know, lengthy sequel tests and panel interviews, and you know, felt like I was actually coming off well, expressing myself well, and you know, making the case for myself.

But I wasn’t getting an offer in the end. Right? I came up short on a number of occasions with companies I was excited about based, I think, primarily on of the cache’ of the name and the brand. And so, you know, some of the, and that started to eat at me a bit, you know. It’s like I was feeling like a bit of a failure there and starting to doubt myself, like maybe I’m not assessing my skills well, or I’m not coming off as well as I thought I was. 

So, it’s easy to get down on yourself, you know, and in my case, I also had some issues going on with the employer I was with at the time that weren’t helping, you know, with my attitude, and I was kind of carrying and building up some negativity. I think that probably was coming out when I didn’t want it to, and so, yeah. 

It definitely ate at me, and then, you know, I decided to try a different tack, you know, as the new year came along, I decided to be a lot more kind of intentional, and also just kind of more self-exploratory. In my case, I got in touch with a former colleague who had opened up her own career consulting business, and you know, kind of told her the kind of things I wanted to work on, and that became the focus of our work together. Really looking forward and kind of resetting my job search. 

Mac Prichard: 

You worked with a career coach. You mentioned her name is Farra Kober, and you mentioned her in your article for us. What led you to decide to work with a career coach? And how did you choose her, Josh? 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, so I’ve worked with a few over the years, and, you know, they’ve had different styles and different focuses. You know, when I arrived here in Portland a few years back and was conducting my job search, I got put in touch with a job coach who was very focused on, you know, networking, and you know, some tactics for meeting people and standing out from the crowd and those were all valuable lessons. 

When it came to working with Farra, I mean, I think the big draw there was the familiarity we had with each other. We had worked together back at MSNBC and NBC News. So I knew her well, and, you know, she knew my personality and my skills, and I think there was just an inherent kind of trust and comfort level there where I didn’t need to, you know, necessarily like prove myself to this person, or, you know, tell my life story. We kind of already had an understanding of one another, and that allowed us to kind of get to that next level, and I went in with open ears. 

You know, it’s like yeah, I maybe had an idea of some of the things I wanted to focus on. But, you know, I kind of left it for her to fill in the gaps, kind of tell me where she thought I could improve, and she was great at that. You know, and really talked about, you know, the need to not just use buzzwords in an interview, and you know, say you’re curious, or proactive, or a problem solver. But, you know, really fill in the color on those stories, you know, with examples, you know, whether from work or even from life and, you know, just. 

And so, that went a long way for me as well as, you know, just kind of building up my confidence again, as well. I think that was maybe a kind of a less tangible piece and not necessarily something I was looking for in a career coach but was one of the main positives that came out of that experience was, you know, just remembering, you know, I do have worth, and an employer’s gonna be lucky to have me and let’s figure out a way to tell that story. 

Mac Prichard: 

So, your coach helped you present yourself in a positive way and gave you advice about how to improve your confidence. What difference did these changes and other suggestions she made make in your job search? 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, I mean, it started to come out pretty immediately in the interviews I was having. You know, I just, one of the more tactical suggestions she had was just to, you know, kind of come up with a narrative, come up with some keywords related to that, and stick those on post-it notes and actually put them on, you know, my desk or my computer when I was doing an interview and, you know, just those reminders to touch on those points, and it was really very fulfilling to go back after some of these interviews and see that I had kind of checked all of the boxes and, you know, gotten to all the points I wanted to and, you know, used those stories and narratives to my advantage. 

And then, even before that, you know, in the preparation work that we did in onboarding, you know, she pointed me to a great personality test to better understand myself, and the ways I work, and the ways I come across, and some of the ways people with my personality traits interact with others. We also did some, you know, kind of self-evaluation of things I was looking for in a job, and, you know, kind of turning the table, and focusing a bit more on my wants and needs, and not being quite so concerned about, you know, kind of forming my story to fit a company and a role, but flipping it around. 

It’s like, does this role that I’m applying for really fit what I’m looking for? Does this company have the values and the kind of leadership that’s important to me and the communication style that I need? And, I think, that goes a long way to building up confidence as well, when you start to view yourself not necessarily as, you know, subservient to a potential employer, but a, you know, a real partner in that search, and that you’re both trying to fulfill each other’s needs, and that you have as much worth and insight, intelligence as the people you’re talking to on the other end of the Zoom or the phone, or email. 

So, I think that was a great benefit. Just to dig a bit deeper into my own interest and values and then reflect that in the conversations I was having with these employers. 

Mac Prichard: 

That’s a phrase that came up several times in your article, digging deep. You encourage job seekers in your piece for us to dig deep. Tell us more about what you mean by that, Josh, and the difference that digging deep made in your search. 

Josh Belzman: 

Yeah, I think it can take a few forms, and it’s maybe gonna mean something different to the individual. In my case, I feel like it really meant kind of peeling back some of the layers and the gloss I was putting over my job search and getting a bit more honest about what I was looking for, what I needed, you know, what my strengths and weaknesses were and, you know, finding a way to talk about that in a constructive manner, and also, just doing a bit of a self-evaluation of my attitude and tone. 

You know, as I mentioned, I wasn’t having a great experience in the job I had at the time of my job search, and I felt that negativity, you know, kind of creeping in and maybe taking root in some of the conversations I was having where I was maybe talking about things I didn’t want, or you know, the kind of leadership, or job, and roles that I wasn’t looking for. Instead of, you know, kind of putting a more, I think, constructive and positive spin on things, and using, you know, the experience I was having that I wasn’t finding constructive and then finding, you know, kind of the allegory and flip side of that to identify the things that were important to me. That would help define a successful job search for me. 

So, I think just really reframing issues for yourself is important, you know, and maybe it’s as simple as just, you know, getting out a piece of paper and doing, you know, a bit of charting and plotting of your wants and needs and, you know, must-haves, and nice to haves, and just really focusing in on what it is that’s most important. 

And so, I think that’s what I mean when I say dig deeper and go beyond just, you know, formatting resume or pulling out bullets from your resume. But really get to the heart of what it is that makes you, you, and valuable as an employee, and what has, you know, stood out and been important in your career in terms of finding joy in work. Because you’re really only gonna be able to do your best work when you’re feeling fulfilled and happy, and so, you need to be able to identify what the sources of that are. 

Mac Prichard: 

Finally, Josh, what’s your number one job-hunting tip? 

Josh Belzman: 

There’s a few. But, you know, I think, stay positive. It’s easy to say, hard to do, you know, and we talked a bit about some of the strategies for doing that, you know, kind of looking back at your life, at the things that you’ve accomplished, and the things that bring you joy and really putting those front and center, and, you know, if you need to put that on a post it note on your computer or make a motivational poster for yourself, you know, whatever it takes to keep a positive, you know confident state of mind. Because it doesn’t matter what medium you’re operating in, whether you’re, you know, in person in an office meeting somebody and getting to shake their hand, or on Zoom, or even through an email, you know, those tones and attitudes you have come through. 

You know, and I think, important is getting an outside perspective, you know, whether it’s a career coach, a professional, or just running things past your friends and family, or former coworkers. You know, how does this sound? How does this answer sound? Can you try, you know, working with me to help refine answers? And just getting some outside perspective. Because I think it can be easy to kind of get, you know, kind of caught up in our own heads or, you know, kind of see things singularly through our own point of view, and maybe we miss some of the signals and tone that we have when dealing with others. 

So, yeah, I would just say to really, you know, take it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and, you know, view it as a bit of matchmaking with a company, and everything that goes along with that. I think you’ll find success the more honest you are with yourself and with prospective employers. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, thank you for sharing your story, Josh. To learn more about Josh Belzman’s job search, visit macslist.org/stories.  

And check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories. 

On the second Friday of every month, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found a dream job.  Go to macslist.org/stories.

In the meantime, thank you for listening to today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job. 

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

Are you ready for a change in your job situation, but you aren’t getting called back after interviews? If you’re feeling discouraged with your progress, there are ways to stay positive and reach your goals. On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Josh Belzman shares how hiring a career coach took his search to the next level. Josh tells us what he did to remain positive during a year-long job hunt and the practical steps he took to be more successful at interviewing. Learn more about Josh’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

I’ve worn a lot of hats, from being a newspaper reporter to the social media lead for a mayor, to designing analytic systems for online publishers. Most recently I’ve focused on measuring the impact of digital marketing campaigns and content distribution programs.

I recently joined an online marketing agency called Zenith Media Services, an arm of Publicis Media, and will be supporting the campaign reporting needs of a new pharmaceutical client. This is my first time working in an agency and a much needed change of pace.

How long did it take you to find this job?

From intro to offer, it took about three weeks to land *this* job, but I’d actually been on the job hunt for the better part of a year.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

The Zenith role fell into place after just a few interviews and a sample case study. I was presented for the role by a recruiter who reached out to me on LinkedIn a few months earlier about a different role. While that one didn’t work out, she kept me in mind when another position in my wheelhouse came up. That trust and familiarity helped cut down on a lot of back and forth.

My candidacy was strengthened by working with a career coach on interview tactics. Farra Kober is a former colleague who recently started coaching on the side. I jumped at the chance to work with her since we knew each other and she’d had success changing industries and reaching outside her comfort zone.

During my job search, I’d been through lots of interview loops and tests and was a finalist at several “dream companies.” But I wasn’t closing, and felt I’d missed some signs early on that these roles weren’t the right fit. I made that my focus with Farra, working on a clearer pitch and being more selective about where I was applying. She had me take a personality test – thank you, 16 Personalities – to better understand how I operate and what’s important to me.

We came up with a short list of keywords and narratives to emphasize in interviews. It was important that I not just talk about being curious, versatile and calm under pressure, but give clear examples that demonstrated these traits. One of the best tips Farra gave me was to write keywords on Post-It notes and tack them on my computer screen during interviews. It worked! When I went back through my notes I was happy to see that I’d hit on every theme.   

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

I struggled to stay confident and positive amid rejection and work stress. When I started my job search in early 2021, I was confident because I’d taught myself lots of new skills at a news start-up, still had a job and felt on top of my game. I was getting plenty of bites and interviews seemed to flow and provide validation. I kept thinking I’d nailed it and would quickly get an offer. But the longer things dragged on and the more times I came up short, my confidence took a hit. I started doubting my skills, career choices and even my ability to read the room.

Meanwhile, I was growing despondent at work amid high turnover, broken promises and a lack of transparency. I was desperate to leave but felt trapped. Negativity was creeping into my job search and interviews. I found myself talking more about the kind of workplace I didn’t want than what I was after and what I could offer.

As the calendar turned to 2022, I realized I had to make a change. I had to become the kind of candidate I’d want to hire, and make sure the companies I was spending all this time proving myself to were places I really wanted to be.

I became more intentional. I began setting goals and journaling, committed to “homework” assigned by my job coach and started being a lot more honest with myself and hiring managers. (I hadn’t lied about my skills or experience, but had been saying I was OK with organizational things that probably would bother me). I quit doing that. I asked more questions, and if I had doubts or concerns, I spoke up. I turned frustrations into lessons, and slights from the past into opportunities to grab ahold of going forward. It’s cliché, but I took control of my own destiny instead of waiting and hoping for things to change.    

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

Dig deep. That really goes for all aspects of the job search. Do some self exploration to better understand what motivates you, what frustrates you, what you need to do your best work and what you’re looking for in a job and work environment. Take a personality test. Ask those around you how they’d describe you. Ask probing questions of yourself and prospective employers. Go beyond resume bullets to find clear examples of the skills, experience and values that best tell your story.  

Why do you love your job?

I get to solve problems. That’s not actually in the job description, but it’s the thing I look for in any job opportunity and what motivates me beyond all else. I don’t need high praise or a huge paycheck (not that I’d turn it down), but I do need to feel like I’m fixing something or building something useful. It could be a reporting tool that offers new insight, a process that eliminates a mundane task or training teammates on a new tool. I just need to feel like I’m being helpful, solving a puzzle and creating something of value.