The Top 10 Portland Job Search Questions

In every job search, we look for answers to questions so that we don’t make any mistakes that could jeopardize getting that new job.

Here are the top 10 questions I’ve been asked during my time as the editor of Mac’s List:

1. Do Portland employers even consider out of state workers?

Yes, of course they do but don’t always expect to be reimbursed for relocation costs. In fact, I’ve hired someone remotely having only interviewed them via Skype. Prichard Communications (sister company to Mac’s List) has also interviewed candidates using Google Hangout.

Obviously, being and out-of-town applicant is a big hurdle for some employers. That’s why you need to be a superstar candidate. It also helps to address the location issue in your application.

2. What do you think about applying for jobs that I’m qualified for but don’t match exactly what I’ve done in the past?

Show how your skills transfer to this new position, how your expertise helps an employer solve their problems, and how you’ll fit in with a company’s culture. Be strategic. Don’t apply for every job out there but also don’t be afraid to seek out new paths. Again, you just have to be the best candidate!

3. What organizations should I network with?

Don’t spend your time at general networking events. Seek out events that attract the kind of people you want to work with and for. Looking for a job in development for a nonprofit? You better be at every People’s Nonprofit Acceleratormeeting.

4. Why don’t employers list a salary in the job postings?

You have a number and they have a number in negotiation. Just like you don’t want to give a potential employer a salary expectation right away, neither does an employer want to give you their range.

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If you’re amazing for the job, then they might be willing to pay you more. But if you’re making a career change, an employer might want to low-ball you to mitigate any risk in hiring you.

5. Sometimes I submit an application and never hear back. Why do some recruiters or employers not respond to my application at all?

Small businesses don’t always have the resources to support a recruiter or employ an human resources person. This means that someone in the office has the challenge to hire you on top of all the work they are now responsible for because they have an open position.

They don’t intend to be rude, so don’t be discouraged. If you really want to know the status of your application, call or email to follow up. For more information on what employers are doing behind the scenes, here are eight things employers won’t tell you.

6. How do I dress for an informational interview in Portland?

I find that Portland is a snappy, casual town for the most part. What does that mean? Dress nice, with a sense of style but don’t overdo it. A suit and tie are rarely necessary but professional attire is.

Mac mostly wears V-neck sweaters. You’ll see me in jeans and a silk blouse. Every company is different, so do your research to get a sense of what the company culture is before you meet up. Definitely research your person on LinkedIn first.

7. Is applying to online job postings worth my time?

Yes! It helps to know people who can help you find the jobs that aren’t being listed but you have to apply for jobs somewhere. Don’t stop applying to online job postings all together but do network to find unpublished opportunities, to make connections, and to build relationships.

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8. I had four interviews with the same company but didn’t get hired. Why?

This is sad and hard to hear. I’ve heard it several times now. This may mean that it came down to one person’s opinion over another. Sometimes the race between two candidates is really close and all an employer needs is one tiny tiebreaker to make the decision.

Other reasons could be that either the other candidate was willing to take a lower salary, had more qualifications, was a better cultural fit, knew someone in the organization, or came with a better referral (or any combination of these points). Don’t be discouraged here because these events are clearly out of your control.

9. Can I connect with someone I’ve never met on LinkedIn?

It’s best to ask for an introduction from a mutual connection. If you insist on connecting with a stranger on LinkedIn, be sure to explain why you sent the invite. This way your new connection will understand your motivations and have context for the online relationship.

10. (This one comes from an employer who called me to check a reference) With all the jobs on “Mac’s List,” you’d think this applicant would have gotten a job already. If they are so great, why have they been looking for a job for so long?

It is a hard job market and there are hundreds of applicants applying for the same job, even dozens of highly qualified or overqualified candidates. People are willing to do more for less to live in Portland. If you’ve been on the job search for months, I encourage you not to lose hope.

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