Create Your Own North Star: Jenny MacKaben’s Job Search Success Story

Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire and empower others who are on their own unique path. We love to hear how our readers have found rewarding careers in Portland, and we want to share these stories with you to inspire you in your job search and to help us all better understand the local job market! In this job search success story, Jenny MacKaben, Digital Marketing Manager at Dr. Martens, shares how mapping out her needs ahead of searching and applying for different roles helped her create a North Star.

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

I work in partner marketing and am currently managing the affiliate marketing program for Dr. Martens

How long did it take you to find this job?

I searched for 3-4 months before finding this role.

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

Although I actively checked job boards like Mac’s List, Ladies Get Paid, and Remote Woman, I spotted this job listing on LinkedIn. A key tactic to help with finding the role was reaching out to the recruiter and leaving them a personal note. We had actually met at a networking event years prior and I took the opportunity to reconnect and express interest in the position. I think that helped me to land my initial interview.

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

The most difficult part of my job search was not knowing where I’d wind up or how long it would take me to get there. Along with many others during the pandemic, I lost my job and found myself without stability in my professional life. Ultimately, I saw this as an opportunity for growth and believed I could find something that would help support my long-term goals and aspirations. But, not knowing the outcome of my situation definitely created some anxious moments in my job search. It was helpful to have my family, friends, and professional community believe in my ability to find a fulfilling job, but the real thing that helped me overcome my nerves was me; I practiced self-affirmations almost daily to help me stay positive and optimistic about the job search process.

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

For job-seekers looking for advice, I have two tips. First, I believe it’s extremely important to figure out what it is you’re looking for and believe that you deserve to find exactly that. And I’m not talking job titles and duties. I think the things that don’t make it on to the job description usually have a greater impact on the relationship you develop with your work. For me, that meant working remotely, having the autonomy to perform my duties as I see fit (no micromanagers please!), a robust benefits package and the support to prioritize my family and personal life when need be.

When I first started my job search, someone once compared this process to ordering a sandwich. This piece of advice I’ll never forget; she said: you’ll need to know what you’d like on your sandwich before placing your order. And she was right; mapping out my needs ahead of searching and applying for different roles helped create a North Star for me. During the interview process, I made sure to feel out what the role had to offer as far as what I knew I needed. Ultimately, this was an exercise in creating and upholding my boundaries that definitely paid off in the end.

Second, and this may sound cliché but, you are not in this alone; activating your network or dedicating time to grow your professional community is extremely helpful when searching for your next role. I equally prioritized my time submitting job applications as I did setting up informational chats with folks already in my network or those that I wanted to connect with. I learned so much from those conversations and wound up with my connections sending me job openings and helping keep an eye out for suiting positions.

Why do you love your job?

Above all else, I just love the people I work with. Everyone is so dedicated to their work (while being creative and having fun), which inspires me to continue learning and doing my job to the best of my ability. Additionally, I’m incredibly grateful to have a manager that gives me the amount of autonomy I need in my role to truly flourish. I’m trusted to do my job how I want to, and that is so motivating to me. I also appreciate that my team is encouraged to try new things, which means I’m surrounded by folks who aren’t afraid to make mistakes or fail. There’s always something to learn from testing new approaches. Plus, I love shoes and being part of the shoe biz is super fun!