Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire countless careers. We share the stories of job seekers’ successes to inspire you in your own career, get ideas for new approaches, and to help us all better understand the local job market!
This week we’re talking with Tak Kendrick. Tak already had a solid job but knew that he wanted something more in his career. Here’s Tak’s story.
What do you do in your job?
I am the Communications and Marketing Director, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. I oversee and provide strategic guidance for communications and marketing for a library district that spans 16 branches across three counties in southwest Washington. My role is a leadership position, overseeing a staff and department that is responsible for media relations, advertising, outreach support, publications, and graphic design for the district.
How long did it take you to find this job?
I took a very circuitous route to this job. I was happy in my last position and likely would’ve stayed there for many years to come, but about six to eight months ago realized I needed to do some soul searching about my long-term career goals. Ultimately, I realized that my potential for personal growth was limited in that professional role–at least in the foreseeable future.
As a result, I never made a firm “I need to find a new job” decision. But I did start a personal journey to figure out what my ideal job would look like–first so I could shape my existing position around this vision, but also so I would know what to look for in other organizations.
How did you find your job? What tool or tactic helped the most?
Because I was happy in my previous position, I had the luxury of being selective and not feeling a sense of urgency. I had a strong a sense of both the kind of role I wanted and the type of organization I wanted to work for. I very much to work for a library system or another organization that promoted literacy and literature.
In terms of resources, I found Mac’s List to be incredibly helpful as it gave me a central location for jobs in my field (management, communications, and public good). It was also something that I could scan from time-to-time that seemed like a good single-stream resource without having to bob around to various newspapers and online listings. Ultimately, it is how I found my new job. One day I was scanning the listing and saw exactly what I’d outlined as “my dream job” – and that’s when I jumped into action.
I also relied heavily on my personal and professional network–particularly my wife, friends, and mentors. The adage that finding a new job is all about networking is well known, but for me, my network also became the sounding board for figuring out what I really wanted and why. I can’t emphasize enough how important it was to find really smart people who had jobs and roles I admired; in many ways, those discussions helped me decide what I didn’t want to do or aspects of that were exciting.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
Inertia. Because I was relatively happy and well compensated at my old job, so there wasn’t that sense of urgency I’d felt during previous job searches. In many ways, it was hard to start the whole process of job seeking – building a resume, writing cover letters, and (hopefully) securing interviews. The whole prospect of looking for and finding a new job felt incredibly daunting.
Again, my way might not work for everyone, but having a sense of my ideal job helped me overcome this apathy. Once I saw the listing for my current position, it was almost impossible to not want to not start the process, as much as I was dreading it.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Be very thoughtful about what you really want. For me, this wasn’t just about finding a specific job, but rather a new direction in my life and career. I was very deliberate about asking myself certain questions: What do I want to do? What is my passion? How can I use that passion for good (and still make a living)? What kinds of trade-offs am I willing to make? Do I need to get paid more? Work less? Reduce stress?
I knew, going in, that I wasn’t going to get all of those things, but through careful consideration, I was able to weigh for myself what I wanted most. Making those decisions made the rest of the process much easier.
Why do you love your job?
I’m a book geek but, more importantly, I honestly believe that libraries serve an important role for the public. Beyond the traditional confines of “a place to get a book,” libraries, by their nature, are a gathering place for people to provide and share knowledge, materials, and ideas that lead to an informed and diverse community. And now I get to support that!