Overcoming “No” To Find a Job: Megan O’Leary’s Job Search Success Story

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! Megan O’Leary shares the ups, the downs, and the successful conclusion of her own six-month job search.

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

I am the Director of Membership Services at the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN). For nearly 25 years, OEN has been focused on opening doors and connecting entrepreneurs across the state to a network of peers and mentors, startup funding opportunities, and hands-on training. Our mission is to drive innovation, facilitate job creation, and put Oregon on the map as a center for entrepreneurial excellence.

How long did it take you to find this job?

I was on the job hunt for over six months. I left my previous job in June 2015 and spent the rest of the year actively applying and interviewing. I applied for the position at OEN in October, but it was nearly a month before I had my first interview. My second interview came one week later and an offer the week after that. I began January 4, 2016!

While job hunting, I had the time to increase my volunteer commitments, which proved to be super valuable in my job hunt. I joined a local nonprofit’s gala committee, became board chair of YNPN Portland and volunteered through Hands On Portland. It felt great to have a confident answer to the “what have you been doing since you left your job” interview question. Plus, it was a chance to continue developing my skills and be part of a team making a difference–even when I wasn’t working.

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

I found my job on Mac’s List! The newsletter comes out every week, but I encourage visiting the site every day to catch new listings. I also set up a saved search on Idealist.org which alerted me via email every day of all new listings. LinkedIn Jobs was another resource where I found jobs I wasn’t seeing elsewhere.

My network proved to be the most helpful tool in finding my job. I had a few trusty connections that I kept up to speed as I applied for positions. I would email them every month or so with the jobs I had applied for and the status of my application. As they knew people at organizations I had applied, they were able to put in a word on my behalf. And as they learned of opportunities that were up my alley they sent them along to me. I am preparing a token of thanks for my crew of champions as we speak!

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

“No” was the most difficult part of my job search. I heard “no” passively every day I didn’t get a call back for a job, and “no” directly a few times when it came down to me and another candidate and it didn’t go my way.

I said “no” once in my job search too – to an offer that was generous and in the line of work I wanted to do. It felt crazy to say no to a perfectly good offer that I knew ultimately wasn’t a good fit for me. I feel fortunate that I was in a personal and financial position to say no, and while it prolonged my job search by 3 months, I know it was the right decision for me.

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I worked hard to stay as level-headed as I could through the search; to not take the highs too high or the lows too low. Even after I had a great interview, I would come home and apply for another job. There was a day after I got a “no” on a job that I took myself to the movies and ate pizza and gave myself permission to not look for jobs.

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

Once you apply for a job, don’t forget to save a copy of the job listing for yourself. As close dates pass or listings expire, they can disappear. You’ll want to access the listing when you get called for an interview and are preparing. It’s also a great resource once you get hired to set yourself up for success in your new role.

Why do you love your job?

I’m loving all the creative entrepreneurs I’m meeting, it is inspiring to be around so many ideas every day. OEN has a great staff and so many engaged volunteers that are committed to the mission. It feels great to be part of a team whose job it is to help others be successful and pursue their passion.

Want to learn more about Megan? Connect with her on LinkedIn