Innovating a Career in IT: Kelly Noack’s Job Search Success Story

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Meet Kelly Noack, an IT governance risk compliance) manager with Good Food Holdings. In this job search success story, Kelly shares how she carved her own path in IT, advocating for her experience and non-traditional education.

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

I work in IT, specifically IT compliance and security, for a grocery retail group. I develop, manage, and execute different IT compliance, risk, security, and regulatory programs. My work includes leading audits, training and developing IT teams, and partnering with internal groups to establish policies and procedures. 

I work for New Seasons Market and the other grocery banners that are a part of Good Food Holdings. This family of West Coast grocery stores includes Seattle-based Metropolitan Market, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets, and California-based Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres Natural Market. 

In my day-to-day, I partner with and serve the IT department, operations, finance, store leadership, and different teams across the corporate groups in the five divisions.

What do you like best about your career?

I love that I’ve developed my own path in IT. I believe my contributions serve the greater good by helping my company meet and maintain IT compliance and establish best practices. I love that I get to work closely with all levels of IT team members and develop partnerships across the different business groups. 

At this point in my career, I am thrilled that I’ve found a specialization that offers enough challenge, space to grow, and opportunities to collaborate. Though I’ve been in IT for the better part of a decade, I am newer to IT security and compliance and love that I am constantly learning in my current role.

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What resources ​have helped you in your career and your job searches? Are there specific tools or tactics that have contributed to your success?

Job Boards

When I moved from San Francisco to Portland 14 years ago, I was still looking for jobs on Craigslist, which was hit or miss (mostly miss). From there, through a friend, I learned about Mac’s List and quickly started using that as my primary resource. I learned more about the Portland job market and identified tools and resources to help my search. 

I’ve since leaned on LinkedIn as a resource to research roles and companies I’m curious about. I find that combining Mac’s List and LinkedIn with GlassDoor and Google Search can maximize my search results, especially because in IT, different titles serve in a similar capacity. Understanding how to tweak my searches has become an art. 

Networking

Another resource for me is networking with peers or peers of peers. I follow tech job boards in Portland, like PDXWIT, and B Work and Reconsidered for more social impact-centered companies. Elpha has been a resource for salary transparency. Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, PDXWIT shut down in February 2024. 

Thanks to a cold email I sent to a third-degree connection on LinkedIn, I learned a lot about my current role and the path to it. The person had the job I was working toward in IT compliance and was gracious and generous enough to talk about their path and training, plus offer advice on how to level up into my current role. This conversation propelled my confidence to pursue the next step in my career and advocate for myself.

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Company Websites

I love to check the websites of companies with a mission or values that resonate with me. Sometimes, they’re hiring for roles, or, in the past, I might email them to ask if they’d consider hiring for a role I could provide. I’ve also tried to maintain a network of mentors and peers, following their updates on LinkedIn to keep up with their careers and new companies. 

Throughout your career, what obstacles have you encountered when doing a job search, and how did you overcome them? 

Sometimes, looking for local jobs in the Portland market has been a blocker. If I expand my search to include remote or hybrid roles, I’ll find a lot more options. 

Another obstacle I’ve faced and overcome is applying to jobs that require a college degree despite not having one myself. I’ve advocated for my experience and non-traditional education (through certifications and coursework), which make me a great candidate. I’ve worked hard to develop the skills employers want, especially since I have had to prove myself more.

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.