Taking Advantage of Your Network: Taylor Long’s Job Search Success Story
Taylor Long’s job search began when she noticed an opening at a company that she had passed every day during her daily commute. Within a few days, she had submitted her job application, but Taylor didn’t stop there. Instead, she reached out to mutual connections at the company via LinkedIn to set up informational interviews, and within a week her application and resume was on the desk of the hiring manager. By taking advantage of her network, Taylor was able to speed up her search and receive a job offer in just four weeks. Read Taylor’s story for more tips and insights into her job search strategies.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
I am a Corporate PR Manager at Autodesk. My primary focus is external communications for Autodesk executives, crisis and issues management, and acquisition announcements.
I joined the team last October and was quickly brought in to help lead two acquisitions in the construction technology space. Since Autodesk recently relocated from Lake Oswego to Portland’s central eastside, I occasionally help out with local communications needs as well.
How long did it take you to find this job?
Although I keep an eye on Mac’s List newsletters and regularly read my LinkedIn feed, I was not actively looking for a new job. One day I was scrolling through LinkedIn, saw the Autodesk job posting and decided to apply on a whim.
The whole process took about a month from application to offer, which is pretty quick for such a large organization.
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
I had been working at Edelman, an agency where I supported several clients simultaneously, for close to four years and knew eventually I wanted to go back to a corporate setting to sharpen my skill set. I had noticed Autodesk’s new office along Burnside during my daily commute, so after seeing the Corporate PR Manager job posting, I decided to apply online.
After a few days with no response, I looked for mutual connections at Autodesk who may be open to informational interviews. Again I turned to LinkedIn and searched for Autodesk employees who work in PR and/or the Portland area. I found two people who were second degree connections, so I sent them both a message that referenced how we were connected, that I had recently applied to a PR job, and that I’d love 30 minutes of their time to learn more about what it’s like to work at Autodesk. Within a day or two I had spoken with them both, and my resume was passed along directly to the hiring manager. From there, HR reached out to schedule my first interview and several follow ups with other stakeholders via video chat. My final interview was in-person with the hiring manager, who gave me a tour of the office. Within a couple weeks I was offered the job.
The informational interviews gave me a ton of useful background on the company that I referenced during each job interview. I made sure to write down my questions ahead of time, test my video chat/wifi connection, and take each call from a quiet location. I also jotted down specific examples from my work experience that connected to each point in the job description. By writing everything down beforehand, I was able to quickly recall examples to answer questions.
When HR told me they were going to make an offer, I did some research on Glassdoor and Payscale to see what salary range I should expect. That gave me some parameters when it came time to negotiate. I also read Jessica Williams’ guide to negotiating salary, which gave me a framework (and much needed confidence) going into the discussion. One thing that didn’t cross my mind before the negotiation was stock options – I had never worked for a public company before and hadn’t factored stock into my total compensation package, so that came as a nice surprise and a lesson learned for next time.
After receiving the offer, I asked for a couple days to think about it. I talked with my parents and a couple close friends about the pros and cons of making a move. In the end, I felt Autodesk would provide me with ample room to grow and opportunity to stretch my skills, so I decided to go for it!
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
The hardest part of the process for me was leaving my job and coworkers at Edelman. They are a great group, whip smart and super fun to work with. I was happy with my job there, so it was scary to think about leaving a good thing for something new and unknown. It just so happened that I had two weeks vacation planned that coincided with the tail end of my interviews and when I received the offer letter from Autodesk. That time off allowed me the headspace to really think about what I want in my next job.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Leverage your connections to make inroads at the company you’d like to work for. I’ve found that most companies give referral bonuses, so employees have an incentive to meet potential candidates and pass along their resume. Being referred directly to HR or the hiring manager can go a long way when your application may be one out of hundreds submitted online.
Why do you love your job?
On a macro level, I love that Autodesk’s technology is used to design and make things – from helping construction customers build more efficiently and reduce waste, to using generative design to inspire new manufacturing approaches for space exploration. I’m also proud to work for a company that values sustainability and giving back. Just recently I made a donation to my niece’s read-a-thon and Autodesk matched it dollar-for-dollar. I feel fortunate to have found a workplace that fosters community and has clear values that align with my own.