Networking During COVID-19: Alex’s Dolan’s Job Search Success Story

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In this job search success story, Alex Dolan, the senior director for global outreach and marketing at Global Electronics Council, shares how he networked during the COVID-19 pandemic to find a role that combined marketing and technology.

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

I’m the Senior Director for Global Outreach and Marketing for the Global Electronics Council.

How long did it take you to find this job?

Eight months. 

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

Set up networking meetings

I moved to Portland from out of state last March, literally on the day Oregon went into lockdown. My wife and I had wanted to relocate here because we love the area. We took a leap of faith to leave our jobs and come up and see what we could find up here. At the time, we didn’t know that the global pandemic would impact business and employment, so when we moved, I found that most companies had hiring freezes.

While I scanned job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed, I used networking more than ever to get to know people in the area. Since job postings were fairly limited for most of 2020, I thought it would be a good use of time to try and set up as many conversations with people who knew the area. Of course, I reached out to anyone and everyone I knew who I thought might be willing to introduce me to people in Portland, but that only got me so far. 

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Work with career coaches

Coming to Oregon from out of state, I was aware of the major companies with a footprint in the area (e.g., Nike, Intel), but I wanted to learn more about the smaller businesses that were doing innovative work. A few resources really helped. I started by investing in two different career coaches based in Portland. One was Jenny Foss, who I found to be a huge resource of information and a welcoming voice for someone who just moved to the area. I’ve always had good luck working with career coaches who know about the market where you’re hoping to work. They’ve been working in that area for so long that they can be valuable sources for advice. They might know local businesses that aren’t yet on your radar, and possibly be able to broker some introductions.

Connect with industry organizations

In addition, I sought out organizations that covered the sector where I was the most interested in working. For me, that meant the tech sector, and I was interested in technology that was being developed for some positive social impact. I found a few hubs that became invaluable resources. I signed up as a member of the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), which has a members board online where you can easily meet other members, all of whom were very generous with their time and helped give me friendly voices and faces. I also found a few incubators coming out of OSU and other educational institutions, which helped inform me about companies just getting off the ground. Other local business organizations, such as Better Business PDX, were also really helpful in making some introductions.

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

In the pre-COVID world, I would have wanted to meet people for coffee or lunch, but I made it work through Zoom and phone calls. The big challenge was that no one was hiring for much of 2020, which meant that the competition for the limited job openings was harder to break through. There simply weren’t many jobs, and as an outsider who had just relocated, it was hard to establish relationships without meeting people face to face.

To overcome this, I just tried to do as much work as I could on local businesses and reach out to as many people as possible. 

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

Ultimately, I found my job through a listing on Indeed. But the groundwork I laid by talking to people helped me prepare myself so that I was ready when the right opportunity presented itself. My biggest piece of advice would be to do as much research as possible on businesses and don’t be afraid to invest in yourself through career coaches. I’ve found I always have room for growth, both personally and professionally, and a good mentor can help navigate you through the process and keep your spirits up in the process.

Why do you love your job?

I have a background in both the tech sector and social marketing (not to be confused with social media). This job allows me to blend the marketing work I’ve done in technology to create marketing campaigns that help drive positive social impacts.

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Alex is hiring for a senior manager role at Global Electronics Council. Learn more here

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!