Navigating A Cross-Country Job Search, with Stephen Marc Beaudoin

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Find Your Dream Job, BONUS EPISODE:

Navigating A Cross-Country Job Search, with Stephen Marc Beaudoin

Airdate: March 12, 2018

Mac Prichard:                  

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, find the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, founder and publisher of Mac’s List.

To get your dream job you need clear goals, great skills, and a good network. You also have to know how to look for work.

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 on our show, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love. Our guest shares how they did it and offers their best job search tips.

Our guest today is Stephen Marc Beaudoin, the executive director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

Changing jobs mid-career can be scary. Especially if your new position is across the country.

In this bonus episode, nonprofit leader Stephen Marc Beaudoin shares how he found his dream job at the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. And he did it while living more than 2,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon.

In an article you can find on the Mac’s List website, Stephen says he approached his job search with a clear focus and strategy.

And Stephen offers this simple advice for every job seeker: Know yourself and make decisions accordingly.

Stephen, welcome to the show!

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Mac, thank you! I’m so happy to be talking with you!

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s a pleasure to have you!

Now, Stephen, Congratulations; you are the Executive Director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and, tell our listeners: why do you love your job, Stephen?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Oh! There are so many things I love about the work of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, but it all boils down to something very simple for me: I believe that art and music and creativity are fundamental rights. I believe that access to creativity and creative expression is a human right. So, the work that the Maryland Symphony Orchestra does to serve the community through arts performance, through music education, through community engagement, really advances that belief as art as a fundamental right. And it really helps that I have an amazing Music Director, that I get to collaborate with, a wonderful Board and staff, in a community that has a lot of need, a lot of challenge, and a lot of opportunity.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it sounds like a terrific organization, with a wonderful mission, so congratulations!

Let’s talk about your search, Stephen. What made the biggest difference as you were looking for your work, and in the success you’ve had in finding your job?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Well, that’s a good question. I think for me, one thing that made a real difference for me, Mac, was leaving myself a long runway for the transition. I gave notice to my employer, which was PHAME, an arts nonprofit, based in Portland, that I had led for seven years – I gave my notice more than six months before I needed to really make the transition, and to have that much time to really think, and listen, and learn and discern; having that much time really made a difference for me because I wasn’t hustling, I wasn’t making decisions in haste, and I could really take the time I needed to make the right decision for me.

Mac Prichard:

Now, in your article for the Mac’s List website, which we mentioned earlier, you talked about the value of having clear goals and a strategy for pursuing those goals. How did you figure that out, Stephen? Because I know many listeners, and I certainly was this way earlier in my career, struggle with both goal-setting and the strategy of job-hunting.

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Yeah, I think… how did I devise that? I’ve always believed in the importance of having a “kitchen cabinet” – a group of advisors and mentors, that are very different from you and that have a lot to offer, so they may be different in terms of age, or experience, or working in different parts of the sector, or frankly, working in other sectors, but having their expertise and their guidance and mentorship has been invaluable to me. So as I made the decision, I was just coming off a sabbatical from my organization, and I had really planned the sabbatical with coming to a conclusion around whether I wanted to make this move across the country or not. And I did come to the conclusion after the sabbatical that I did want to make that move.

So, after making that decision, which came for a lot of reasons, some of the first folks that I went to were this “kitchen cabinet.” And I said, well, what’d’ya got? What kind of advice can you give me? Because here’s why I’m doing this and why I think it’s the right reasons for me, right now, personally and professionally, what should I be thinking about? Who should I be talking to? And the number of doors that that opened for me was phenomenal. The amount of people willing to make referrals, willing to do introductions, willing to make connections, willing to serve as references, willing to give me feedback on cover letters and willing – ultimately, in what was a really profound moment – to come together and do a mock interview with me.

I had a group of advisors, that, right before I went in for my last two interviews for my last two positions for which I was a finalist, did a whole serious mock interview process with me. So, to be able to utilize and call on the strengths and wisdom of this group of kitchen cabinet advisors, that was invaluable.

Mac Prichard:

What I love about this story is that you’re making a point I see happen again and again, which is that the most successful job seekers are those who do what you did, which is ask other for help. Sometimes people are afraid people are going to say no but you didn’t have that experience, did you?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

No. People are – I think people are designed to want to help. One of my core beliefs is that everyone has something unique and important to offer to the world, everyone of every background, of every color, whether you have a disability or whatever your background, everyone has something to offer the world and people are just waiting to be asked. I can’t think of an example – I can’t even think of one person who said, “no I won’t,” or “no, I can’t.”

Mostly, it’s being savvy enough in that ask to make the right ask at the right time of the right person, and that’s applicable to anything in life. But especially with this, it’s less about well, will somebody say yes, and more about, what is this relationship and can you tailor – how can you tailor what you’re asking them for to their strengths, their wisdom, and their networks. So, making sure you ask the right person for the right thing is very important.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I agree, and I find that, when people do that, because they’re making a focused ask and asking for something that someone can help them with, they’re making it easy for people to say yes, aren’t they?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Oh, 100%. And when the person that is reaching out — and this is now happening to me more and more, people reaching out to me, and I am absolutely more inclined to respond and to want to be supportive and helpful when the person who’s reached out has taken just a little bit of time to do a little bit of homework, know a little about my experience and background so that what they’re asking me is actually something that I can offer them. It always makes a difference when people take the time to do a little bit of homework.

Mac Prichard:

Well, probably our most valuable asset in our job search is our time. So in recognizing that, Stephen, because we all want to use our time as wisely as possible, are there things in your job search that just weren’t effective that you would encourage people to avoid doing themselves?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

Oh, sure. Well, there are a number of things I would do – and will do – differently the next time I’m going through a search…. There were some times when I would just look at, I would be looking at job boards, for example, or looking at something on LinkedIn, and I would say ‘well… I told myself I would get three applications out a week, and I’ve only done one, and it’s Saturday night, and I see this position and it doesn’t really excite me but I’m going to go ahead and apply anyway.’ What a waste of time.

I mean, none of those positions – most of those positions I never even got called for, and the ones that I did, as soon as I got in the interview, I said, ‘why am I in this interview?!’

So, I really learned through this process: even if you set weekly goals of wanting to get a certain amount of activity out, it is always true that the quality of what you’re doing with your search and your applications matters so much more than the quantity of what you’re churning out every week.

Mac Prichard:

Well, speaking of job boards and online job sites, how did you find your current position?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

So, this position I found through a referral. My background is as a classical musician, as a singer, but I had not worked in the music field – ever. I had worked 16 years, now, in the nonprofit sector, mostly either in art and economic development, or art and social justice, and a colleague of mine knew I was searching and this was someone i had not spoken to in four or five years but he had seen through my social media and through my LinkedIn that i was searching and I was posting about my search – and, happy to talk about that more in a second, because there’s some important lessons, there – but he had seen that I was searching and he said, “hey, a colleague of mine just saw that this position is actually reopened,” because it had been open and I had not applied in the first round and they went through the process and didn’t find anyone. He said, this thing is reopened, here’s what I know about this organization, here’s why I think you should apply, why I think you’d be an asset.

And, his personal outreach to me made think about the position in a very different way, which had initially caused me to pass it over, and that incentivized me and got me motivated and inspired to apply.

Mac Prichard:

Now, you moved from one side of the country to another, more than 2,000 miles – what advice, Stephen, would you give someone who is doing a long-distance job search, whether it’s 2,000, 200, or just 50 miles?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

One: make sure you’ve got money in the bank to do it and make sure you are clear with yourself and your prospective employers about your expectations with respect to coverage of expenses. I found that all of the places where I interviewed in person, did end up covering 100% of my interview expenses and I got a pretty darn good relocation package through this position, but it’s always helpful because you’ve gotta be able to turn on a dime sometimes; they may call you Monday and say, “can you interview Wednesday?” So you have to have the flexibility and malleability to be able to do that, whether you’re employed currently or not, and then it’s always helpful to have some money in the bank, just in case they may not cover all of those expenses.

But I would say, especially if you’re mid-career, you should really be clear that your, that one’s expectation is that the employer, especially if they’re very serious about you as a candidate, that prospective employer should be covering all your expenses to come out and interview in person.

And the other thing I would just say, for distance, is it always, always helps, because you only get such a limited amount of time with the individuals with whom you would be working: Board members, staff members, donors, etc – always, please, do homework outside of that, not only online by looking at documents, reading 990s, etc, but talk to former employees. Some of the best information I got about this opportunity was talking to two former Executive Directors of this organization, who were very candid, very forthcoming and gave me a lot of meaty information leading up to my interview, and after I had a job offer in hand, where I could go to them and say, “well, here’s what I’m thinking, here’s what I see, how does this jive with what you’re experience was?” And that was invaluable.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. Well, we could talk for a long time, you’ve got wonderful advice here, Stephen. We have to bring it to a close but I’d like you to share your number-one job hunting tip for our listeners, what would that be?

Stephen Marc Beaudoin:

My number-one job hunting tip, honestly, is, and it sounds clichế, but my number-one job hunting tip is just: know who you are. And everything else from, you know, a job – a job for me is not a job, it’s about living a mission-driven life, and being a cause-driven individual. So if you know – truly know – who you are and what matters to you, the question of how that will show up in work, how that will express itself through a job, that will answer itself, it really will. So I encourage anyone to really spend the time when they’re thinking about, whether it’s moving to a new field or moving to a new area, take the time to really know what matters to you in the world and in your work and then proceed accordingly.

Mac Prichard:

Well, Stephen, thank you so much for sharing your story. To learn more about Stephen’s job search, visit macslist.org/successstories and check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories like Stephen’s. Every Friday, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found their dream job.

Stephen, thank you, and thank you, our listeners for downloading today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Taking a leap mid-career can be scary, especially when you’re looking at new roles across the country. Stephen Marc Beaudoin made it look easy to land a new nonprofit leadership role, but he approached his job search with a clear strategy, support from trusted advisors, and “a long runway.” Stephen has simple-sounding advice for every job seeker to strive for: know yourself and make decisions accordingly.

On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job; I talked with Stephen about his job search and the job he landed as Executive Director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Below, you can read Stephen’s essay for our Success Stories series to learn more about what he did to master his job search.


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

I recently finished a seven year tenure as Executive Director of PHAME in Portland, Oregon, and began in September as the Executive Director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra (MSO).

How long did it take you to find this job?

I began my job search in earnest in March of 2017, though anyone in or approaching mid-career or later will tell you that you’re always on the market, in a sense – and it’s true. Every relationship, every event, every published piece, and every appearance is an opportunity to show your skills and attributes to the world, and you never know who’s watching. I was offered the MSO position a few hours after completing my final interview, on July 20, 2017.

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

I took an all-hands-and-all-tools-on-deck approach to my search. That is: I did a little of everything – informational interviews, meeting with recruiters, cold calling, job hunting via LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and many others – in part to see what would stick and what would produce the best return.

It had been nearly a decade since my last competitive job search, and moving to a new geographic market in DC/Maryland – and also more solidly into a particular lane of nonprofit management – added additional complications and considerations. What helped me most? Being pleasantly persistent and never applying for anything that compromised my nonnegotiables.

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

The hardest part, to begin with, was not being lured by the strong brand identity of large nonprofits simply because of their cultural cachet, and the second hardest part – which I got better at as I went along – was reading and assessing organizations between the lines. What employers say is important. How they and their teams, board members, and donors act is even more important. Observing individual and team dynamics, communications styles (even by email), and body language revealed huge insights about how problems are solved, how power is distributed or hoarded, and how folks do or don’t work together.

There were several instances where I liked an employer on paper and even by phone, but within a few minutes of being in the room for an in-person interview, knew that it wasn’t a right fit for me. Likewise, I knew in the first five minutes of meeting with the MSO search committee that these were my people. It is a feeling that’s hard to explain, but we must develop and pay attention to it.

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

Know you. Be you. Do you.

Why do you love your job?

I love serving the Maryland Symphony Orchestra because it aligns totally with my core values, and because the people who run and fuel this organization – and I know this already – are just so wonderful. I believe art is a fundamental right, and that our communities are healthier and stronger when everyone has access to the arts and creative expression. And the MSO brings this to life vibrantly through our concerts, arts education, and community engagement programs.