Change Your Job Search by Applying Strategically, with Alfredo Moreno

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If you're a mid-career professional looking to make a career change, you’re likely to face obstacles as you try to find the best possible position. Since finding that next job can take a while, you need to use that time to hone in on your unique strengths and talents. On this episode of Find Your Dream Job, Alfredo Moreno (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alfredovmoreno/) shares how refining his elevator pitch helped him to see the things he valued most, as a professional and as a person. Alfredo also shares how goal setting and accountability helped him keep his focus, even during a months-long job search. Learn more about Alfredo’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series (https://www.macslist.org/articles/success-stories).

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

I’m the community relations manager at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus (https://www.pcc.edu/about/locations/rock-creek/) in Washington County.

How long did it take you to find this job?

It was a long process, but with different stages of intensity. I had my periscope up for about 16 months overall, but I was particularly intentional, strategic, and intense about it for the final nine months.

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

I found the job the standard, not-particularly-efficient way — discovered it on a job listing website (Indeed.com, I believe) and applied online. Obviously it was one of many I applied for during the long search, but was one of the few that really resonated with me right away.

It wasn’t just an intriguing opportunity, it was a role that I knew I could do at a high level and felt very confident that it would maximize both my person passions and professional skill set. I’d say it was a rare opportunity in that regard to hit that sweet spot.

So, I put a good amount of time and energy into my resume and, particularly, my cover letter. My resume changed shapes over time throughout my search thanks to input I received from peers and, particularly, an agency rep I worked with. I didn’t get any job opportunities through them, but the feedback on my resume was invaluable.

Also (and honestly I have no idea if this moved the needle at all) I printed off physical copies of my resume and cover letter and mailed them in a manilla envelope to the person I thought was the hiring manager for this role. Turned out, she wasn’t (it’s a little unique here), but maybe that resonated a bit with the hiring committee. At minimum, it didn’t seem to hurt me.

Finally, even after I had done my initial interview, I kept networking and through some additional LinkedIn exploration I discovered that one of my PCC counterparts in this role was connected to a friend of mine. I asked for an introduction and set up a lunch meeting with my PCC counterpart a week or two before my final interview that was incredibly valuable. She wasn’t on the hiring committee, but gave me some great insight into the role and, most importantly, a real confidence boost heading into the final round.

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

There were several large challenges in my search. The first was simply how long it took. While the end result was absolutely rewarding, having “job hunting” take over as my top extra-curricular activity for 8-9 months was draining to say the least.

I will also say, it was pretty disheartening to experience the shabby way many organizations treat applicants. I’ve been on the hiring side of this process as well and know that it’s no picnic, but I was disappointed with how many companies failed to follow-up in a timely fashion, even when they promised to do so after an interview stage. The organizations that were sincerely appreciative of the great time and effort applicants put forth, and communicated clearly throughout the process, stood apart from the rest.

Finally, as somebody who was well into their career (nearly 20 years) and approaching…okay, at…middle age, with all the varied responsibilities that come with it (mortgage, kid, etc.), I didn’t have the flexibility to explore lower paying opportunities, even if the role had lots of appeal. I had to make a lateral move at worst, which isn’t easy, especially coming out of a niche industry. My window of opportunity was certainly smaller than it would’ve been 10 years earlier when I had more financial and personal flexibility.

I overcame these challenges by diving deeper into my goal-setting process and staying as organized as I could (I used a tool called the Best Self Journal to help). I also needed all the encouragement and understanding that I could get from my friends and family who appreciated how grueling it was to stay after this for so long. You’ve got to have advocates in this process, both personal and professional.

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

Get organized and set specific milestones for yourself that will help you march toward your ultimate goal of a new job — things you can measure and check off on a weekly/monthly basis.

Mine included developing and refining a strong elevator pitch for myself, building and enhancing my portfolio, and increasing and expanding my professional network. Each of those stages had several subtasks that had to be accomplished or even pivoted to drive them forward.

Unless you’re extremely well-connected out of the gate, this is going to be a multi-layered process with no small amount of personal development and learning throughout. Be ready to hustle and grind.

Meet with old colleagues, send emails introducing yourself, ask for favors, go to networking mixers and panels, take advice you hadn’t considered before, read books/blogs/podcasts (Mac’s List, hello!). You’re probably not going to find a golden ticket in any single meeting or event, but you’ll keep picking up tips, info, ideas that will propel you forward.

Why do you love your job?

My new job allows me to get out and engage with a LOT of different people while serving as an advocate and professional fan of this unique and beautiful campus. There’s a special spirit of optimism on a college campus. People are here because they ultimately want to be a better version of themselves academically, professionally, but also personally. It’s an addicting energy that makes it a fantastic place to spend your day.

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