What if the held an interview and no one came?
May 18, 2010 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I am going to Portland, OR from the 26th-1st to look for work with the intention of moving there at the end of the year. I have been applying to jobs for the last month and so far no interviews have been scheduled. What can I do in PDX to help get employment if none are scheduled?

I am looking for work in policy, PR, project coordinating, office management, political, or government work. After applying to maybe 15 jobs my schedule is pretty free still.

Should I make an in person appearance at the companies I applied to for follow up?

Any places I should go or people I should meet?

Should I go to a temp agency and let them know I am looking for work at the end of the year?

Any tips you can give me gets you a drink at the next PDX meetup.
posted by munchingzombie to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unless you're very skilled, you're most likely not going to find work until you live there permanently. The job market is weak in Portland because of the recession, but it's always been soft. Fifteen applications is a drop in the bucket. When I was hiring, we just tossed out resumes of people who didn't reside in the metro area. I've had good experiences with temp agencies, particularly Boly Welch, but this was also pre-recession.

You may want to search the LJ community DamnPortlanders for tips. But before you ask any questions on this topic, because they are flooded with this question ALL THE TIME, search the archives.

I wish you the best of luck.
posted by emkelley at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2010

I wish I had tips to give you, because then maybe my husband - who was laid off last year and has scored all of one interview in that time - could use them too. The job market here is really, really bad right now. Last year saw massive lay-offs and job losses and we haven't recovered much.

Not saying it will be like this still at the end of the year (man, I hope not), but you may not be getting calls simply because employers are flooded with applicants for every single job that gets posted. Showing up in person as a follow-up is largely not part of the culture here, in my experience. If you are not living in Portland right now, it probably makes it harder. Keep on sending those resumes, but understand that locals are having a very hard time even getting a response. I also wouldn't be surprised if temp agencies have more temps than jobs right now, so be prepared for that to be a challenge as well. Again, hopefully by the time you move here thing will have improved.

I am seeing an increase in postings for part-time jobs, so maybe that is a good sign that things are picking up.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:03 AM on May 18, 2010

My friend decided she wanted to move to Portland last year and she just moved there a little over a week ago with a job waiting for her. First, she scheduled a week long trip last September and set up some informational interviews at places in her field (leaving resumes wherever she went). She also just dropped in on a few places to check out the spaces and meet people. She sent follow up emails to everyone she'd talked to letting them know she was planning on moving there in the spring and to let her know if there were any openings.

After she left, she kept sending various places her resume and because she's an easily likable and rememberable places she had visited that weren't hiring would often give her leads on other places that might be. She scheduled another trip at the end of March this year to go on more interviews (both formal and informational--she had six lined up over three days I believe) and to look for places to live.

She had three interviews she really liked and received two job offers and had her first day yesterday.

So it is possible to do this if you plan correctly and do a lot of leg work. It's possible that you're not getting responses in part because your address is out of state. If you go there in person and make it clear that you will be moving there, you might have more luck. But yeah, 15 resumes is not a whole lot so just carpet bomb the area and make sure that you make it clear in your cover letter that you will be moving there.

Good luck!!
posted by Kimberly at 9:05 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife and I moved to PDX with the same intentions in 2003. No jobs lined up, just thought it would be better than where we were at the time.

It was sort of a disaster for the first year. I was jobless and struggling as a freelancer for 10 months; my wife landed a low-paying job at a failing company after 6 months.

Anyway, the thing that saved us every time was people-you-know. People in our family, people at church, and yes, people at temp agencies.

I sent out hundreds of resumes but never landed a job that way.

Portland can seem pretty impossible as a job market. I still don't think we were mistaken to move there,but I wish I would have known from the start to save lots and prepare for anxiety.
posted by circular at 9:06 AM on May 18, 2010

I would go for a temp agency. 15 applications nowadays is nothing. I send out 3-5 applications a week in the NJ area and haven't had any bites in 6 months (though I currently have a job, just looking to upgrade).

You might want to get a few general business cards made for yourself that point to a few of your skills. They might be handy for networking in a new place.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:13 AM on May 18, 2010

I wanted to add that I agree with circular - word of mouth and asking around is probably the best way to go. That's that route my husband is actively pursuing now, and sending resumes as a plan B. Unfortunately in his general field it's still pretty dried up, but it's become clear that networking is more likely to yield results. Do you know people up here already? If you do, they could help you start to put out feelers. If you don't, perhaps you could try scheduling informational interviews, like Kimberly suggested.

Also, I forgot to wish you luck. So, good luck!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:17 AM on May 18, 2010

With regards to the PDX job market, I currently live in Buffalo. So, you know...
posted by munchingzombie at 9:23 AM on May 18, 2010

Personally, I wouldn't do it.

Most of my friends (30-ish, IT-wonkish, solid salaries) are looking for opportunities elsewhere.

The housing market is in the tank, unemployment is #3 in the nation- and yet- inflated california dollars keep the best parts of town unaffordable.

Personally, all PDX is trading right now is cultural cachet. Yeah, it's laid back and beautiful and liberal, etc. There's dozens of towns like that in the US- including some like Austin- where you won't find fifteen applicants for a barrista job.

Good luck, but as someone who moved pretty extensively throughout my 20's- I wouldn't reccommend it. The limited opportunities and overall cliquish PDX vibe are a bad choice for starting something new.
posted by mrdaneri at 9:44 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of it depends on your experience and education as well. If you don't have a Master's degree or at least 5+ years of continuous direct experience in your field, you're going to have a hard time finding a job in Portland. Even three years ago when I lived there I knew tons of people who were underemployed.

It sounds like your experience is in general office work, which thousands of other people in Portland are qualified for. Can you be more specific about your skills?

Do you know anyone there? That would help. Why are you moving?

I would NOT move there without a job under any circumstances, unless you have at least a YEAR of living expenses saved up. Decent living in Portland will set you back at least $1k/mo. Read the previous threads here... there are numerous stories about highly skilled people who moved to Portland and didn't find a job for several months!
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:50 AM on May 18, 2010


I currently work as a public policy researcher. I do database management, project management, fundraising, PR, and strategy with a team of local and state politicians. I have a pretty extensive background in green policies.

I have a contact there with someone who has a public policy firm with an office in Portland. I was his brother's campaign manager and continue to work with him. The budget crisis in my state is delaying me getting introduced to the guy.

I am moving because my roommate will be moving there. He is an excellent computer programmer and I can at least keep house while looking for a job. But, I generally want to move there because it feels like the right sort of city for me. It is purely emotional.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:12 AM on May 18, 2010

With regards to the PDX job market, I currently live in Buffalo. So, you know...

Heh, we should all be so lucky. At least your unemployment rate is going down, not up!

I currently work as a public policy researcher. I do database management, project management, fundraising, PR, and strategy with a team of local and state politicians.

Have you looked in Salem, the capital? A lot of the lobbying firms around there.

But, I generally want to move there because it feels like the right sort of city for me. It is purely emotional.

_So_ many people in Portland had that same thought. Most of them unemployed or underemployed.

Have you looked at non-profit jobs? There are a ton of non-profits in Portland, a lot of them small 3 or 4 person operations that might benefit from your skillset.
Sustainable/green jobs are a hot sector out here right now. Maybe look into those industries.
Definitely work your contact for all it's worth. PDX tends to work a lot on recommendations rather than direct hires.
posted by madajb at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2010

Have you looked at non-profit jobs? There are a ton of non-profits in Portland, a lot of them small 3 or 4 person operations that might benefit from your skillset.

I work for a Portland non-profit and am pretty involved in the community. Yes, there are lots of NPO's here - but unless you wanna hassle people on the street for Greenpeace, you probs aren't going to find a job at one.

Look - Portland is awesome, and I'm not trying to steer you away, exactly. But you've gotta be realistic. I moved here with no job lined up BEFORE the economic crisis, I have an ivy league degree, and I wrapped burritos for four months before getting a "real" job, a job which is still way below my potential and not at all what I'd like to be doing, but the trade-off is living in Portland.

Don't follow up in person. That would just make for an awkward thing. 15 apps is nothing. 15 maybe a week is what you need to be doing.

If you really want to move here, you'll have to take something like a McJob first and then work at getting your foot in somewhere, making connections, etc. Sorry to be the heavy, but you aren't going to be able to just come to Portland and get a job in policy or the like. You're competing with a zillion over-educated, clever young people for the same non-existent job.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2010

My current job is pretty sucktastic. So, I am willing to do miserable work for miserable people until I find something and be pretty satisfied with it.

I should note that my 15 was 15 this week. I am doing about five a day now.

Shhh, don't tell my boss.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:59 AM on May 18, 2010

but unless you wanna hassle people on the street for Greenpeace, you probs aren't going to find a job at one.

True, but it beats flipping burgers and there is a chance the OP's skills would be used.

Besides, it's more polite than saying, "Sorry, Oregon's full, have you considered Madison?", which was my initial thought. heh.
posted by madajb at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2010

You're making a GREAT decision - Portland is a wonderful town and you'll love it. So don't listen to the naysayers about that.

It's really rough to get a job there, I've been able to get work left and right in NYC, but lived in Portland for years and it was always a struggle to get anything more than retail or temp jobs.

As other suggest, you may just have to suck it up and temp for a while when you arrive. I know people there who have just finished Masters programs and have had to volunteer (aka intern) in the hopes that the place might offer them a job at some point. But, there are lots of horrible temp jobs to be had, many of which I've quit myself out of the sheer misery of imagining going for another day, but trust your 'emotional' decision about moving there, because it's a beautiful city in a beautiful state full of wonderful people and that will more make up for the pure hell of doing meaningless work in a cubicle for part of your week, at least until you find something better.
posted by jardinier at 11:37 AM on May 18, 2010

I've been living in the NYC area for 10 years and am pretty tired of it. I love Portland to death and started thinking about relocating there but as soon as I saw how few job postings there were in my field, I realized it was not going to be easy. This idea is now on the long-term backburner and perhaps I'll relocate my family there when I'm older and nearing retirement or if I start working for myself.
posted by camworld at 12:20 PM on May 18, 2010

But, I generally want to move there because it feels like the right sort of city for me. It is purely emotional.

Life isn't fair. There are no jobs in Portland. Every American hipster and his dog feels how you feel.

I got to spend 4 wonderful years in Portland as a Reed College student. Maybe you can get a foot in the door be going to PSU or something. But "feeling a connection" means nothing. Life isn't Tales of the City and you aren't Mary Ann Singleton.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2010

I have lots of family and friends living in Portland who have master's degrees or above. Underemployment is rampant. Public schools are jettisoning teachers, even those with advanced degrees. Public employees are being forced to take furloughs (=involuntary pay reductions). Many private employers still have hiring freezes in place. Those freezes will probably be lifted once the economy "feels" more secure and employers are willing to take risks. It sounds like Portland would be a good match for you and your skills, just keep at it. Don't be surprised if it takes a long time, though. At least you have a job right now.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:23 AM on May 19, 2010

Well, I went to Portland and am now back. What an amazing experience. I got to meet a ton of people in my field, explore the city, and confirm my suspicions about how great a place it is even though it rained every day.

More importantly, I found a job. I will be moving there in two weeks and sleeping on someone's couch until I find a place.

Thank you all for your helpful advice and encouragement.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:27 AM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I love it! Congratulations!
posted by Kimberly at 2:04 PM on June 10, 2010

Sometimes life is Tales of the City. Congrats!
posted by voidcontext at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

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