How I Found a Job in Portland

Portland isn’t the easiest place to find a job. Even when the economy is good, the demand for good jobs regularly outpaces the supply.

For those of you adamant on finding work in this amazing city, I know it can be done. I did it in 2009 when unemployment in Oregon was at its highest at 11.6% (it sits at around 8.7% right now).

Here is what helped me find meaningful work in Portland.

Manage your expectations

I moved here without a job. Luckily I did have a little money in my pocket to get by while I got my feet on the ground because it took me three months to find work and even then it wasn’t great.

I had been traveling for the two years prior and my skills were out of date. So I returned to what I knew – wine.

I worked part-time at a winery in Newberg and as a server in Troutdale while living in Portland. This meant that I spent much of my earnings on gas getting to and from work but I had enough money left to pay my rent in the city, which was the most important thing to me. I managed to scrape by on those two jobs for five months.

Stay committed

In the three months that I spent unemployed, I interviewed with a previous employer in California. They offered me a decent job selling wine in Sonoma but I declined out of my newfound love for the city of Portland. I also knew that if I took that job, I was taking it out of fear that I would fail here in Portland. So I decided to remain despite the uncertainty.

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Build relationships

Be kind to everyone you meet. From the barista to the librarian to the man sitting next to you on the bus, you never know who is going to connect you to that great job.

After living in Portland for five months, I became close friends with a woman who lived in my building. She helped me get a job as a receptionist at the office where she worked–more than 200 people had applied for the position. I was grateful. It wasn’t the most fulfilling job, but it allowed me to pay my bills and to live and work in Portland.

Improve yourself

While working as a receptionist, I used my spare time to re-evaluate my goals, enjoy the city, get my yoga teacher certification, take cooking classes, travel, and apply to graduate school.


In 2011, I started my master’s program but was still working part-time as a receptionist. Graduate school was like boot camp for my career. It propelled me.

I also happened to take a class with Lori Howell, who works here at Prichard Communications. We kept in contact and so when a position opened up at Prichard, I reached out to her. Two weeks later, I was the editor and sales director of Mac’s List!

Extend kindness

Seven months into my new position, I’m happier than ever. It was a long road to finding a rewarding job that paid a good salary but I did it. Now, I work to make sure that I extend the kindness that I received to others.

My story isn’t glamorous and it wasn’t pretty but I’m happier today than ever. For another great story of finding work in Portland check out this article by local author, Chris Guillebeau from the Powell’s Books Blog,

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