Your network plays a pivotal role in finding your next job. On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Amanda Green shares how she secured her dream job, even though she wasn’t looking for her next position at the time. Thanks to having a strong network, she was able to learn of an open position that wasn’t on her radar. Learn more about Amanda’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.
Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 72:
Dust Off Your Resume: Amanda Green’s Job Search Success Story
Airdate: January 8, 2024
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.
It’s a nonprofit that works to advance consumer rights and end unfair and predatory practices.
Amanda Green believes in the power of referrals and support from others.
In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Amanda says she learned about the job she has now thanks to two friends.
She also says advice from friends and a recruiter played a pivotal role in her quick and successful job search.
Why do you love your job, Amanda?
Oh wow, that’s a great question. I love my job for many reasons. I will say, first of all, I did not start off my career thinking that I was going to be an accountant, let alone a CPA or a finance director. I kind of just opened doors and windows that pushed me in this direction. I just kept going towards it because I enjoyed it so much, this particular work, and I’ve worked for quite a few mission-led organizations through my career, and that’s something that I really, really need. I need that connection to work that I’m passionate about and believe in to be successful in my roles.
And for this particular job with Oregon Consumer Justice, this is the field where I started. I did my undergrad in consumer affairs in government. My first job out of college was with PERG, Public Interest Research Group, who works in every state around the US, furthering the consumer interests in various ways. And so, I was at another job when I found out about this job, and I was not looking. But I was so excited about the work that this organization does and the potential for impact that I really jumped on the application because this is just work that’s so close to my heart.
And the team at Oregon Consumer Justice is a really impressive, motivated, and dedicated group of individuals, and I am just thrilled to work with a team like that. I think that that is one of the biggest reasons that people enjoy and love and want to stay in their jobs. It’s the people they work with and having that dynamic of pursuing a goal that you’re all passionate about. I think it just really keeps you interested. It keeps you going. It keeps you coming to work and enjoying your job every day.
Well, your excitement for your job really shines through, Amanda. Now, I want to dig into your job search. But first, tell us just a little bit more about the work of Oregon Consumer Justice.
Sure, so Oregon Consumer Justice furthers consumer rights in Oregon through a variety of ways. So first, we do community engagement and outreach work. So, several members of our team are directly in the community asking questions, finding out what people need in the consumer space. What rights are being violated? What issues are of concern in community-specific populations and beyond?
And so, we take this information and then use that to drive our policy efforts. We’re really engaged in the legislative space and policy space. We worked on numerous bills last legislative session, and we will again this legislative session, to further consumer rights in Oregon and to stop predatory practices.
And we also use that community-based information to pursue litigation against companies and corporations engaging in malicious deeds. And so, we find people that need representation through that outreach work, and we file cases and litigate against those companies.
Well, let’s talk about your job search. You weren’t in the job market. How did you hear about this position?
Yeah, so I had two good friends who just know me well, personally and professionally, and saw this job, and I was in a unique position at my current job in which the organization was going through a lot of transition, and my job was changing. I had also just had a baby, and I was back from maternity leave. And so, I was considering a change anyway, and they knew that. It just seemed like a time of change for me in my life. I was ready to pursue something different. But I wasn’t actively looking yet.
But my friends that knew this about me saw this job, and both of them reached out, without even having connected with each other and was like, “Amanda, I found your new job,” because they know of my passion in this particular issue space, and then, the job as it was written was my exact skill set. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last ten years, and one of the things that really excited me about Oregon Consumer Justice was that it was new.
And so, it was in that start-up space, and I would have the opportunity to build all of my own systems and practices in the organization in the financial realm. And that’s something that I had experience doing, and it’s also something I really enjoy. I love building accounting systems and building out policy and controls. It’s super nerdy, but I love to do it. And just a chance to start from scratch with such a large and impactful organization, too, was just really appealing.
So you got the posting, decided, I’m going to apply for this job. What resources did you tap to prepare your application?
Yeah, so having not really been in the game, in the job market, I did not have my resume ready to go. And so, the first thing I did was – the Oregon Consumer Justice was working with a recruiting firm (Nonprofit Professionals Now) for the position. And so, I had a pre-interview with the recruiter before I even talked to anyone at the organization, and I asked him for his help and feedback to get my resume ready and to get just in a place where I could make myself the most appealing candidate.
And I don’t know that a lot of people know this, but the recruiter does work for the company, but they work for you, too. And if they see that you are a good fit, they want to help craft you in the best possible light to help you get that position because everybody wins. Right?
Well, thanks for sharing that, Amanda. Two things stand out for me. The first is you were able to reach out to the recruiter without having formally updated your resume and that the recruiter was working for both you and the hiring organization. That’s unusual. It often doesn’t happen. Tell us more about that experience and how it helped you as a candidate.
Well, I asked for help, and so maybe that’s why it doesn’t usually happen because I don’t think everybody knows that they can ask for help. But I’m just the kind of person that if I need help with something, I’m gonna ask. You don’t get what you don’t ask for in this world. So I asked if he would give me some feedback, and we had a conversation about it and it was great, and it worked out really well.
It was still up to me to the actual work of making those changes. But it was really nice to have a professional sounding board of someone who intimately knew the job description and the organization to really know what to focus on.
Besides the feedback you got from the recruiter, were there other resources that were helpful to you as you updated your resume and got ready for an interview?
Absolutely. So, I am a very lucky person, and I have several mentors in my life. Former bosses, former ETs I’ve worked with, just people who have really nurtured me in my career, and I reached out to all of those people. They’re also my references, and told them about the job and talked through them a bit. I talked through the job with them.
Made sure that it was a decision that I really wanted. It was a big life change. It’s always scary, maybe, starting a new job. I wanted to talk through it and make sure I was really ready, that this was the job that was right for me. Ask them about skillsets that I had that they admired when I worked for them that they thought I should push forward in my application.
And then also, ask them if they knew anything about Oregon Consumer Justice or anybody that works there. This is such, Portland, where I live, is such a big town, but it’s a small community. Everybody in the nonprofit sector really seems to know each other, and I wanted to do that research to make sure everything on paper looks great here. But what do you know about everybody who works there? Have you heard anything? And everything I heard was really positive. And so, definitely wanted to pursue the application after hearing about the reputation of the work and the people that work there.
In addition to helping you decide that this was the right fit for you, how did the information you got from reaching out to those former colleagues and bosses shape not only your resume but your preparation for the interviews?
I think it solidified the fact that I really wanted the job, and I think if you go into an interview and you don’t know if you want a job, it shows. It really does. And so, having that certainty, knowing you want that job before is really helpful.
Also, as an accountant, I tend to really focus on hard skills. That would be my first go to in a resume, cover letter situation. I would be like, well, I know Gap, I’ve managed dollars in this amount, I can do payroll, blah, blah, blah. That’s boring. And so, one former boss and mentor of mine encouraged me to focus more on my softer skills, and she just shared that she had never worked with someone in my role and position that had those softer skills, and she thought that that was my biggest asset.
So even though I have the hard skills that you want in an accountant or a CPA, the fact that I was more relational and capable of managing interpersonal relationships and sensitive HR issues and things like that was maybe more of a value add than I would’ve known. And so that’s something that I would not have written into my resume and cover letter before that conversation, but definitely did afterward.
You mentioned that you talked about your soft skills in your resume and your cover letter. How did you talk about your soft skills in the interview? And what kind of reaction did you get when you did that?
Positive. The interview process at OCJ is really human-centered and that was also another reason I knew I wanted the job. You can tell a lot about an organization in the way that it interviews you. And the first interview I had was actually a cultural panel where we weren’t talking about the hard skills of the job. We were talking more about work culture, interpersonal relationships, your community-centered ideologies and sensitivities, obviously diversity, equity, and inclusion, and belonging, and how that impacts your work and your belief system.
And so, I focused really heavily on my experience and training in that regard, and then just my personal background. How I came to be in this role, be in the nonprofit sector, and what things have happened in my life and my journey that have made me who I am, and I think that was really helpful because I had this sort of instant rapport with the people on the panel that I don’t think we would have gotten if we were talking about spreadsheets and budget numbers.
What didn’t work in your job search, Amanda?
I think it was hard to leave the organization that I was at before, and I wish I had given myself more time between jobs or even more time at the organization I left. I think it’s really hard to leave somewhere, and because I wasn’t preparing to leave and I didn’t know I was going to leave, it felt really abrupt, and I didn’t get to finish quite all of the things I would’ve liked to have finished at my prior job.
And so, I think if you have the foresight that you want to leave somewhere, start doing that work of the succession planning sooner rather than later so that you have all of the ducks in a row and that you are not super stressed out when you’re leaving. You don’t want to leave things unfinished or put the person behind you in a negative spot or your organization in a crunch. So time is really helpful if you have it. If you can make it for yourself.
Well, finally, what’s your number one job-hunting tip?
I think it’s ask for help. I think that’s really what has served me well. Get feedback on your resume because you can edit it ten thousand times, but when you’ve looked at a document a bunch, you’re not gonna catch all of the mistakes. So having that second eye of someone who knows you and you trust to give you some feedback on your resume, I think, is super helpful, and the piece about working with a recruiter. Recruiters are all over LinkedIn lately and you can put your status on LinkedIn that you’re open to work, and people will reach out to you, and they will help you because they get paid for placements. So it’s in their interest to help you get set up for the job that you want. So that’s what I think would be my number one tip.
Well, thanks for sharing your story, Amanda. To learn more about Amanda Green’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.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.