Aaron Cohen spent months starting conversations with his network, conducting in-depth research and customizing his cover letter, in order to find the right position for him in Portland’s busy tech market. Aaron recommends focusing and following up with your network to make the most of your job search. Read on for Aaron’s job search story and to learn the resources he used to land a job in a competitive field.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
I run communications for disruptive technology- and product-driven companies. I currently work at RealWear, a knowledge transfer company based in Vancouver, Washington. If you haven’t heard of RealWear, you will soon! 🙂
RealWear makes ultra-rugged wearable hands-free head-mounted computers for dangerous environments that can be controlled with just your voice, even in extremely noisy environments – it’s the #1 solution out there for this use.
How long did it take you to find this job?
MANY MONTHS of conversations and in-depth research/networking to triangulate RealWear in the Portland tech haystack. (The company didn’t have much visibility as funding had not yet been announced and they hadn’t hired me yet!)
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
The position was a typical job posting. Probably the best tactic I used was researching the company and CEO, including scanning for news and social media, personalizing and customizing my cover letter, and THEN forwarding a copy of my cover letter and resume directly to the CEO/Co-Founder/hiring manager, as well as following up by email to say, “I wanted to make sure you personally were aware that I applied for xyz.”
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
First, as exciting as the Portland tech scene is, it’s also super-competitive. How do you possibly stand out?!
Second, despite all my tech marketing experience in Silicon Valley, I was unsurprisingly not being perceived as the best fit for the Portland tech scene. Part of this was because I willingly took a temporary detour and worked in energy efficiency for many years to make an impact using my skills in the environment. To work to overcome this obstacle, I started a small consulting business and read communications for multiple tech startups in Silicon Valley to learn on-the-job and learn how to work with entrepreneurs with no help or team to support them or me.
Additionally, I read a lot of digital marketing tech blogs, joined webinars as a student, so I could have a conversation with confidence.
Finally, I wrote thought leadership articles such as in VentureBeat, which gave me more relevant experience to speak to in my interviews.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
FOCUS AND FOLLOW UP! You have to know exactly what makes your heart beat and what you’re willing to go above and beyond for.
In my case, I wanted to make an impact and help customers achieve ROI with the latest and greatest technology, leverage advanced digital marketing tactics to get there, and I wanted to help my PR skills stay relevant in the digital age.
Bonus tip – never be wishy-washy in an interview, or play hard to get. Triple bonus – be yourself!
Why do you love your job?
At RealWear, I love to learn and operate in a diverse culture that affords unlimited opportunity for learning and growing. I also love seeing the impact in real time whether it’s revenue generating, media coverage, awareness building, or marketing strategy. The impact is huge and everybody feels it.