Networking Opens New Opportunities: Melissa Erickson’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, Melissa Erickson, the Director of Development at Saturday Academy, shares how networking allowed her to feel confident in her skills and access job opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise.

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

 I am a fundraising professional. I am a Director of Development for Saturday Academy.

How long did it take you to find this job?

 It took me 1.5 months to find this job. 

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

I used websites like Mac’s List, Indeed, and LinkedIn to search for job postings. I found the posting for this job on all three of these sites. I contacted my network for support and advice. They helped me by reviewing my resume and alerting me to other job postings. I secured a lot of interviews through connections with my network. I also reached out to a recruiter for help on how to market myself. I made sure my LinkedIn was up to date, since most employers look to that as a representation of you as a person and your career. The most helpful tools were LinkedIn and Mac’s List for finding jobs in my field, the advice I received from my network of contacts, and lots of practice with interviewing.

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

Explaining why I left my previous job so suddenly was really difficult. I knew that everyone would ask about it, and I needed to explain it in a way that didn’t make me look bad. The advice I received from the recruiter helped me a lot to see how to promote myself and not let this experience in a toxic workplace ruin my future prospects.

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

Network, network, network! Although my network didn’t help me get this specific job, they really helped me feel confident in my skills and access jobs I wouldn’t have normally applied to. In the end, I was in the final stage of interviews for four jobs, because of my amazing network in different industries. Use LinkedIn to connect with people your contacts know and don’t be afraid to ask for introductions. Also, maintaining a great relationship with past supervisors really helped me to get great references for the job I secured.

Why do you love your job?

My new manager is very supportive, encouraging, and wants me to succeed. I also love expanding on my past roles and learning new skills that will add to my resume.

About Melissa 

Melissa Erickson grew up in Philadelphia and has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Oregon State University. She completed a year of AmeriCorps and has worked in nonprofit organizations for over 10 years with a focus on volunteer coordination, fundraising, and corporate engagement.