PRSA Portland Metro Chapter

Three Things Successful Job Hunters in Portland Do Differently

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Dec 13

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by Mac Prichard

Portland is a wonderful place to live, but finding fulfilling, well-paying work here can be hard.

The talented people we attract from across the country make for a quirky culture, but also create more competition, especially for professional positions.

It doesn’t help that our local job market has been a tough one for years. Molly Young, who writes about the state’s economy for The Oregonian, reported this week that even as Oregon added new jobs our unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent.

And while Oregon has the second highest minimum wage nationally, salaries in Portland are lower than in Seattle and other west coast cities.

Yes, it takes more work to break into Portland’s tight job market, but you can do it. Here are three things I’ve seen Portlanders do to land good jobs they love.

1.   Get a Local Champion

As an employer, I welcome calls and emails from colleagues I know and trust on behalf of people who want to work for me. I’ve organized that kind of outreach when I’ve applied for jobs in Oregon and it often helped me get an interview.

Portland really is a small town and whatever your field you soon discover everybody knows everybody else. Use this to your advantage. Check your LinkedIn account and other social networks for connections to hiring managers or people inside their organization. Ask the contacts you find to send a short note about their experience working with you.

2. Recognize That What Your Network Says Matters

Many employers don’t rely just on the recommendations you provide. Current and former coworkers and classmates, the people you meet in professional associations, and even friends and neighbors are all potential references.

As a candidate for jobs in Oregon, I’ve had employers make cold calls to mutual acquaintances and past colleagues and supervisors. As an employer in Salem and Portland, I’ve done the same.

Make networking a regular part of your career and keep your contacts informed on what you’re doing professionally. Be active on social media, particularly LinkedIn, share news about your field and your accomplishments and stay in touch with former bosses and officemates.

3. Manage Your Personal Brand

We all have a personal brand. It’s made up of all the impressions we make in person and online and it especially matters in places like Portland.

Treat everybody in your workplace and at professional events with the same respect you expect to receive. The people you meet, including this year’s intern finishing up her senior year at the University of Oregon, may one day review your resume or sit on an interview panel for a job you want.

It’s the rare employer today who doesn’t Google a job candidate. Here’s a simple old-school rule I follow before putting something on the Internet: I don’t post anything online I don’t want to see on the front page of The Oregonian.

Not sure how to boost your brand? Portland career counselor Dawn Rasmussen has four terrific tips for personal branding.

Mac Prichard publishes Mac’s List and owns Prichard Communications, a public relations agency that serves non-profits, public agencies, and foundations. He also blogs about job-hunting in Oregon. Sign up here to receive the free “Mac’s List” newsletter every Tuesday at 2 PM with links to our new blog posts and to more than 150 Oregon jobs.

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