Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone, with Kelly Anderson
We often talk about the difficulties of finding your next job, but what if you get an offer fairly quickly that just isn’t a good fit? There is no rule that says you have to accept the first offer you receive. It’s crucial that you do your research into whether the company aligns with your personal values and desired outcomes.
On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Kelly Anderson shares why she turned down job offers and how the job market has changed in the 15 years since her last job search. Learn more about Kelly’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 am the Director of Human Resources for Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery, a medical practice of 35 physicians and 375 employees.
How long did it take you to find this job?
From the time I dipped my toe in the water and started to look, it took about four months.
My hiring process with Rebound lasted three months and involved seven different conversations. I consulted during this time and embraced the slow and steady pace. I had been in my previous position for 15+ years and was focused on finding the right fit over the quick fit; I appreciated that they were in a position to take their time too.
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
Jenny Foss of Job Jenny was a fabulous resource. I had been approached by recruiters over the years, but I hadn’t proactively applied for a job in a long time and my resume reflected it. Her expert eye modernized my resume and helped frame my accomplishments in a way that I may have downplayed. Though I am often the go-to person for writing resumes for others, I found it was more difficult to craft my own.
I listened to Mac’s Find Your Dream Job podcast and found the stories people shared to be helpful and relatable. The range of ages, fields, and backgrounds of guests means that there will absolutely be a story that resonates with you and there will be something you can takeaway.
I also felt lucky have to have a supportive spouse and great friends who I bounced things off of during my search and this can’t be understated as a resource. My husband Scott was my biggest cheerleader and encouraged me to leap into the unknown. He has always prioritized my career along with his and works hard to ensure our family roles and the emotional labor within it are equitably shared. This helped in my search more than anything else.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
I had been in my previous job a long time and held leadership responsibility in three distinct areas: human resources, communications, and fundraising. I had to take some time to figure out which leadership area I wanted to pursue and how to focus my resume on the role I wanted next instead of the many areas of responsibility I have held.
The hardest part for me began before my search–it was deciding to leave a job that I had put my heart and soul into and choosing to leave it and take some time off before I knew what was next. I had to step out of my comfort zone and leap, but it was the right call. Our daughter was headed off to college across the country and I knew I’d never regret having time with her before she left. I was also experiencing burnout as I was juggling three roles and wanted to recharge before picking my next opportunity so that I could give my very best.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
I believe in doing your research and then trusting your instincts. I chose not to accept some positions and waited until I found the right fit. Trust that inner voice, it is your wisdom talking.
Why do you love your job?
There is a strong positive culture at Rebound and I get to build on it to create a great workplace for every employee. I have the opportunity to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion and to enhance how we manage change. I have the good fortune to work with a smart and collaborative leadership team and to lead a team of human resource pros and that I value and respect.
Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 41:
Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone: Kelly Anderson’s Job Search Success Story
Airdate: June 7, 2021
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 Kelly Anderson. She’s the director of human resources for Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery. It’s a group medical practice that operates nine clinics in Oregon and Washington.
Kelly Anderson believes in following her instincts. Listening to her inner voice, for example, helped her turn down job offers that weren’t the right fit.
In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Kelly also says the help she received from others, especially family, friends, and a resume writer, made a big difference in her job search.
Kelly, why do you love your job?
There’s a really great culture and esprit de corps amongst the people that I work with. I think that we spend so much of our time at work, and at the end of the day, regardless of what our work is, and certainly my work is the relationship and people work, those things really matter and make our jobs enjoyable for all of us. I also feel really strongly about being in organizations that align with my values, which is why I’ve spent a lot of time in health care. And so, there are some great things that we’re doing for the community and for our patients, and just some really fabulous physicians, I think, are dedicated to patient care and it makes it very easy to carry the water, in terms of talking about what they do in the community and really attracting people to want to be a part of our organization.
You mentioned how important it is to you to work at a place that reflects your values and I know your last job, Kelly, was at Outside In, it’s a terrific social service agency here in Portland, and you were there for 15 years. That’s a big investment of time. Was it hard to leave a job after being there for so long?
It was, it was very challenging. It was a pretty dynamic environment. I had a lot of growth while I was there, and then that growth led to oversight in 3 pretty big areas. So, it’s a fabulous organization. I think that even more today, it’s very important that we have organizations in our community that are about justice for marginalized people. But it was very difficult to leave that job after that long, and I would say that was probably the hardest part of my transition was to make the decision to look at those three large areas that I had, in terms of all of the marketing and communications and public relations and the fun development and the human resources function and make a clear decision about what I wanted my next step to be, so that was certainly challenging.
It worked out and I think I made the right choice but it certainly was tough.
Let’s talk more about that, how did you go through that process? Here you were in a position where you were responsible for 3 areas, as you mentioned- communications, public relations, and human resources, and in your current position you’re focused on Human Resources. How did you decide to double down on Human Resources and leave those other two areas behind?
Yeah, great question. It’s…you know, people work…HR work is very dynamic. There is not one day that ever looks the same. And I have a deep value that people that are a part of an organization are really what makes the organization successful, and at the same time, you get to apply a lot of strategy and have a seat at the table for your organization’s strategic decisions, directions, plans, and goals, and figure out with creativity as well as a fair amount of compliance, how you weave that all together to do the right thing for the organization and to do the right thing for the people at that organization.
I think that there’s a lot of challenge, it’s never something that’s dull, and I think it’s a high reward career.
What steps did you take to figure that out? I assume you must have gone through a process where you looked at those three areas and you decided that this is where I want to go. What kind of questions did you ask yourself or people did you talk to? What else might you have done?
Yeah, I think it can’t be understated, if anyone is considering a change, how important it is to bounce those thoughts, in any moments that you have where you might be feeling vulnerable or unsure of your qualifications or your career, to bounce those ideas off of your friends and your family. That support, for me certainly was very validating and I would just highly recommend everybody have that support system through their search.
Again, I just want to touch on the investment of time at your last position, how did you know after 15 years that it was the right time to move on, rather than try to move up inside the organization?
Yeah, I had really hit a limit for how far I could go, and I think that so many things that happen in our personal lives also play out in our professional lives. It’s something that I would not do again, stay at one organization for that long. I had the opportunity to really grow, and thrive, and develop in my career there, but I think there really is something to, certainly not every year, you know, we want to see people stay in positions for some period of time, what works for them, works for the organization but it was time to move on and in my personal life, our oldest daughter was headed to college and it was looking more and more like she was going to be on the East Coast and not local. And so, initially, my decision had to do with just taking some time off and resetting and replenishing and filling my bucket, so that when we did see her off to college and I jumped back into my job search, and certainly, I’m very aware of the privilege that came with this choice and I’m aware that not everybody has that option, but at this time in my life, I did and then really wanted to give my best to that next position that I took.
I had a little bit of a break. Which goes against all of the advice that you’re told. You know, we’re always told not to leave a great job where you had a lot of job security to leap into the unknown, but for me and for my family, at that point, it was the right decision.
After you made that leap and when you focused on those personal priorities and goals, was it hard to start the job search? What was that like, Kelly?
Yeah, it had been a minute since I had gone through a job search, it had been a very long time. I think the challenge for me really had to do with writing my own resume, and while this is something that I would often do for other people, and this was something that I’m trained and have a career and a certification in, the whole function of Human Resources and employment and that whole employee life cycle, it is different to do it for yourself, especially after such a gap in being in that search. So, I used a resume writer and that was something that was…I think really helped to kind of get that more objective look at my own experience, my own skills, and just helped to make that process not as difficult as it normally would be.
I really did feel a little bit stuck, in that I could write a resume for anybody else, but when it came to doing my own, there was a little bit of a barrier that I had.
What do you think was going on there, because it is striking? Here you are, with a career in Human Resources, you’ve been very successful, and as you say, friends are coming to you about how to do a resume, but when it comes time to do your own, why do you think that was so challenging?
I think that the job search process can be a very vulnerable process, it can be a time where you are wondering…we often connect our identity, we define ourselves by our work, and when we don’t have that front and center and we’re exploring taking a leap, I think it can bring moments of vulnerability. We have all heard the statistics that women tend to apply for a position when they have 100% of the qualifications and men apply when they have 60% of the qualifications. I can tell you with many women that I know who are very accomplished in their careers, I am not sure that I am all that out of the ordinary, in having difficulty communicating, at least momentarily, my own qualifications.
In your work with a resume writer, what lessons did you learn and what tips would you offer for someone who’s considering doing that?
I think, the biggest thing that it changed, since my job search was just the evolution of applicant tracking systems, and so needing to use some different framework in communicating, even in designing the resume to get through those systems.
If somebody is considering hiring a resume writer, what advice would you have for someone who’s considering doing that?
I think it certainly, there is a big lift that you still have to do. You may not be putting your resume together but you’re meeting with this person, you’re committing to some time to share your background with them, you’re also doing quite a bit of writing and quite a bit of soul searching, in terms of if you are looking to make a shift into a career, that for me, I had three within one and was moving into one targeted career. You know, there certainly is a fair amount of work that still comes with that. I worked with Jenny Foss. She is local here in Portland and has quite a following, so getting in with her was something that I needed to time just based on her availability.
That would be something else to consider, is what does your timeline look like? How much time do you have to go through the process? Or are you in a position of needing to move forward in your job search, right away?
Well, you mentioned the difference the support of family and friends made in your search, can you talk more about that, Kelly?
Yeah, absolutely. So, my partner, my husband was very supportive in helping me make this move. After 15 years, you get very entrenched in your stability, in the organization that you’re in, and so, to make that leap, he was always my biggest cheerleader and certainly, I thbink, allowed, within our family, flexed up and down in his career so that we could also prioritize my move and my career, so that was great. I happen to have a mother-in-law who is a career counselor, so that was very helpful as well. She is in Chicago, but we certainly had some good conversations on the early end about what I really wanted, what I wanted to target, what was important to me. And again, just that, I tend to be a very internal processor, so just taking that process to be external and talking that through with people who know you, who understand you, and who have training and expertise in this area, I think is something that’s very helpful.
Now, before you said yes to the position that you have now, you actually had a job offer or two that you said no to. Was that hard to do?
It wasn’t hard to do. I really think that we should listen to that inner wisdom. I think that if something doesn’t feel quite right, that people should listen to that in their job search process. I think that if we were in the process of talking to a friend who was on the fence about taking a position that they weren’t quite sure was right for them, we all would encourage them just to hold off, again, if they’re in a position to do so, and just give them the same grace.
You know, I think that we have to have the same grace for ourselves that we would with our friends. We want people to thrive in their careers, we want organizations to have people who are really tailored to do the work to bring them to the next level. And if those things aren’t in alignment, I think it really is okay to listen to your wisdom and to just pause a little bit and not leap just because something came up first, but to leap when there is real synergy and alignment in what the organization needs and what the employee wants, and those are woven together in a way that makes for a happy employee and a happy organization.
In your article for us, Kelly, you mentioned that it took three months and I think seven separate conversations before you received a final offer from Rebound Orthopaedics and Neuro-Surgery. How did you feel about going through such a deliberate hiring process?
Yeah, I would say that it was mixed. There were sometimes that I really appreciated it, and there were sometimes when I thought, “Oh, do we need to have another interview?” I liked that they were very thorough in who they brought into the process, so those seven different conversations were with multiple groups. So, it started with my predecessor, the Humans Resources director that was in the role, kind of moved through to our executive director, our senior leadership team, a group of physicians, and then a couple of visits as well, with the current HR team that I would be stepping in to lead. And so, the thoughtfulness that came together to include all of those voices, was something that I really appreciated and valued, and is a large part of why I ultimately stepped into this role.
There were certainly moments where, when it took that long, that I wondered, “Do I want to keep moving in this process?” But at the end of the day, I would say my appreciation and respect for the involvement of the voices of the organization won out, and I, at the end of the day, was very happy.
Well, I really enjoyed our conversation, and tell us, what’s your number one job hunting tip, Kelly?
I would say have grace and kindness with yourself. And to the degree that you can, don’t take any rejections personally. Having been on the other side of having managed and lead the job search function, there are so many times when the reason that you might not be offered a job really has nothing to do with you or your qualifications. And so, I really just want people to understand that there are a myriad of reasons that come into play, and during their search, to never personalize any opportunity that doesn’t get traction, because the next thing really may be that fit for them.
Well, thank you for sharing your story, Kelly.
To learn more about Kelly Anderson’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.