Utilizing Your Network: Judge Kemp’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, Judge Kemp, Transportation Demand Management Specialist for Portland Bureau of Transportation, shares how he reached out to his network and worked with a career coach to find his next step.

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

I am a project coordinator for the Transportation Wallet program with the Active Transportation and Safety division with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. 

How long did it take you to find this job?

That’s a really good question. I had only been seeking new employment for five months since my previous position had been eliminated. Though historically, I had been applying for various positions with the City of Portland for years (seven) without getting any real traction. I recently counted my collection of City of Portland job descriptions and discovered there were 18, three of which were related to the department I currently work in.  

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

My job actually found me. I had previously applied for other positions within the Active Transportation and Safety division but couldn’t get much traction. It wasn’t until the section manager who sat in on one of my previous interview panels, suggested to the hiring manager, to schedule a meeting with me to learn more about my background. As we talked, I learned more positions were coming available in the not too distant future and to keep a lookout for when they were posted. I was later contacted to interview for the position I currently have and the rest is history.

As for resources, I signed up for alerts from job boards such as the Oregon Employment Department website, Indeed, Linkedin, and Mac’s List.  I also utilized my personal and professional networks to tap into the shared community knowledge and scheduled virtual coffee meetings (a pandemic necessity these days) to ask a series of questions:

  • What information could they share about their respective field or industry and how it is incorporating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice?
  • How are you coping with the pandemic?
  • Are there other people within your (their) network I should speak to? 

I think the most important resource and helpful tactic I used was working with a career coach, Michelle Neal of Consulting with Integrity, to review my career collateral and help nudge me in the right direction.  

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

Applying for a position that you’re well-qualified for and not hearing a word or even receiving a confirmation. Interviewing for a position and being told by the hiring lead they would let you know about the next steps and hearing nothing.

To overcome these challenges, I just applied for other positions. Besides, if an organization wasn’t professional enough to follow through and let applicants know of their fate, I didn’t want to work for them anyway. 

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

Utilize your networks to learn from industry experts, admired friends, and mentors what advice they have to help you get where you’d like to go. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by a person’s title.

Why do you love your job?

There are several reasons. I love the gender and racial diversity of my workgroup. I also feel valued, heard, and appreciate being able to provide my feedback on initiatives. The work also provides sufficient professional challenges to encourage my brain to think differently. Since it’s a public position, there are opportunities to grow within my organization and beyond.