Tag Archives: Job Search

Farewell to SecureWorld Amid The Global Pandemic

For nearly seven years, I have worked for SecureWorld, a cybersecurity event company. Last week, just like 40+ million of my fellow Americans, I filed for unemployment. Many industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, with the event industry certainly high on the list.

At the beginning of March, I found myself traveling to Charlotte for work, a little nervous about the Coronavirus, but it was the very beginning…

The day before the conference, it was my job to speak with representatives in every booth to ensure they were all set to utilize our conference app, and answer any questions. This particular conference had 35-40 booths – that is a lot of contact – and we didn’t know the 6 ft. rule yet.

It was an awkward introduction every time; do we shake hands, do we wave, do we say anything about the awkwardness…? It was the beginning of uncharted territory, and learning a new way to communicate. One of the booths had a “no handshake” sign – a little foreshadowing of the months ahead.

Never underestimate the effectiveness of good signage!

For the next two days, I heard side conversations about what it would be like to stop travelling for work. I didn’t hear anyone mention, “What would it be like if we lose our jobs?” None of us knew how quickly things would shift over the next few weeks.

I was back home in Portland for only one week when our office decided to work remotely. Two days later, the shelter in place order was issued.

I was proud of the way we pivoted as an organization quickly. We moved to an all digital presence, hired a PR firm to communicate effectively with our different stakeholders, and did our best to hang on for the next few months.

We rescheduled our in-person conferences for later in the year with hopes that the wave would pass, and conferences in late summer and early fall could still be held.

However, as the weeks and months unfolded, it became clear that the conference world just wouldn’t be possible in 2020, and quite likely 2021, and who knows for how long into the future. There was nothing I did wrong, quite simply, my role with SecureWorld no longer exists.

These past few weeks have been filled with every emotion concerning my employment. A part of me is excited to find a new opportunity in a field that aligns more with my interests. Truth be told, when I took the SecureWorld job I envisioned myself with the company for a year or two; but life happens.

It’s no secret I’m sentimental. Anytime my life changes, I feel sadness as I experience the chapter closing. SecureWorld was my very first “grown-up” job out of college. I was so excited to get paid vacations, PTO, and not wait tables on the weekends and holidays.

This company saw me through buying my very first home. My daughter’s middle school and high school graduations, and her acceptance into the University of Oregon.

This company saw me through a pregnancy, and the first years of my son’s life from infant, to toddler, and now preschooler.

This company saw me through loss; loss of loved pets, dear friends, and family. For some people on my team, we were a witness to each other’s lives for nearly seven years. That’s a lot of life stages and transitions.

I have so many happy memories of traveling for work conferences, holiday parties, and Friday bar cart trivia. Some of my colleagues watched me jump out of a tree into a lake, learn all important skills like curling, lawn bowling, glass blowing, archery, and fly fishing at company outings. Everyone endured my recycling and composting presentations, and single use plastics shaming.

I grew so much with this company; learning new technologies, skills, and ways to communicate. I learned to advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted and deserved. I learned to work with a wide array of personalities, how to find work/life balance in the past four years working mostly remotely, and how to juggle managing several different projects and tasks every day while marketing to 17 regional conferences across North America.

To my colleagues: I will miss all the silly banter and serious life conversations. Thank you for all the encouraging words, teaching me new skills and technologies, and sharing nearly seven years (some of you) with me.

For those of you staying with the company, I wish you success. I never had a true passion for “cybersecurity,” but I know we had a good thing going, and it felt great to be a part of something that our audience absolutely loved.

For my fellow colleagues moving on like me, I wish you the very best. Good luck finding something you LOVE! Whether it’s a new job, going back to school, or adventuring…follow your heart.

I believe 2020 is asking us to contemplate what truly matters, grow and stretch; which is often uncomfortable, but this is the space where magic happens. I’m wiping the sentimental tears away; ready and excited for the next chapter!

I appreciated the opportunity to try many new things while
working for SecureWorld – farewell.

10-Point CheckList – What to do BEFORE You Apply for the Job

“You Must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.” -David Viscott

Although it’s tempting to dive right into the job application process, I highly recommend building a solid job seeking foundation first. This will position you to be far more organized, focused, and successful in getting what you want.  

I recently wrote a blog post for the University of Oregon’s Career Service Center (Portland office) with suggestions on what to do before you start applying for jobs. Here is an expanded version with a few more suggestions.

1. Career Coach / Counseling

If you are finding yourself totally lost on where to start with the job search journey, seek out a career coach or career counseling center at a university. Most (if not all) schools have some sort of career advising. Career websites are a fantastic place to start. Try University of Oregon or Portland State University to launch your search.

If you graduated from a university, or attending one, take full advantage of the career counselors. You might as well, you pay for their services in your tuition fees. Even if you feel like you have everything figured out (like I did my first time around), I really encourage you to go for one visit. I can almost guarantee the person you talk with will provide some sort of insight into job seeking tactics you hadn’t considered.

Career coaches often offer a free consultation and different packages to fit your budget. Maybe seeing  someone just once or twice will be the push you need to get going in the right direction. I recently found Vicki Lind, a Portland based career coach. She offers free introductory workshops on how to craft yourself (those useful elevator pitches), the first Friday of every month. I recently attended her workshop with seven other people, and it was really helpful. Not only did it FORCE me to practice my message, but I learned a lot of great tips – all in a comfortable safe setting with fellow job seekers.

I have recently been acquainted with  EcoGrrl Consulting. Aimee is a local Portlander and has been in the recruiting world for years. She is well connected, offers a variety of services and comes well recommended-check out her LinkedIn profile too! 

[If you have a favorite career coach, or career counseling service, please add them to the comment section below- I would love to provide more resources, thanks!] 

2. Figure out what you really want from a job

Begin thinking about what’s most important to you. Are you wanting a position that offers flexibility in hours and days? Maybe office location is important because you hope to bike or take public transportation to work. Is it important that the company’s mission statement aligns with your beliefs? Perhaps salary or potential for promotion is most important to you.

Knowing the answers to these, and making a list of priorities can help you weed through the job postings. At a recent Women’s Roundtable event, I learned knowing your priorities is also helpful during salary revues.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

Upon embarking on my second attempt job search, I wrote a blog post letting everyone know that the long hiatus was finally over. I was ready to try again at finding my first career position. I did this to explain my online absence for the previous year, and share my story; but mostly, I wanted to make myself accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals and intentions, this way they can help rally behind you through the process, and keep you accountable.

4. Brainstorm

Take a few days to brainstorm tactics you plan to apply to the job search, and design a way to keep track of your ideas. I am a huge advocate for lists, so I created several of them to help me flesh out everything I think of. This really helps me stay organized and ensures no possibility goes unexplored. Some of my categories include:

1. People to contact for informational interviews                                    2. Organizations I may enjoy working for                                                 3. Online items that need attention ( blog, LinkedIn etc.)                       4. People I can contact for references                                                          5. Job posting locations (job boards, career service sites etc.)

5. All Things Positive 


You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.”  

-Deepak Chopra

There is no better time than now to surround yourself with positivity. When I started my job hunt, I went to the library and simply browsed the “self-help” section, picking out a dozen different books on finding your true self, and maintaining a positive spirit. These books helped me get in touch with what I really want from my potential career, and continue to provide me with inspiration.

Figure out what makes you feel great, motivated, and uplifted. Maybe a favorite comedian that makes you laugh, or a favorite painting that evokes a sense of peace – surround yourself with these things before you dive into the job search world (and as you travel through the journey). This includes surrounding yourself with positive people and places too!

I always have a favorite quote on my mirror or refrigerator reminding me to keep at it, and stay positive. Here are a few examples:

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”          – Helen Keller

Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base                      and keep your foot on first.”    – Frederick B. Wilcox

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” -Anonymous

6. Make a plan and set goals

Before I dove into anything, I took a week to come up with a master plan. Tackling the gigantic “to-do” list without order is overwhelming and leads to inefficiency. My plan included what I needed to do in the first couple of weeks (laying the foundation), and what my weekly goals would be from there.

7. Look Your Best

Money is most likely a little tight during the job search, and I certainly advocate budgeting and being mindful of spending, but now is the time to look your best. When I graduated college, my grandmother gave me money and said, “I want you to buy a nice suit for your interviews, and get your hair done.” This is certainly sage advice. Not only do we need to look great making those first impressions, but looking nice boosts our confidence significantly- which goes a long way in those interviews! 

I always honor inner beauty first and foremost, but most of us enjoy a little something that adds spunk to our walk, and that’s okay too. Maybe it’s getting your nails done, purchasing new dress shoes, or a new tie, whatever your thing is – know you deserve to look your best! Spend a little bit of money, and rest assured it’s a secure investment.

Nothing shouts “powerhouse” like a strut of confidence. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I bought one of my favorite interview outfits at the Goodwill. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)  Sometimes salons offer free hair styling for interviews (if you are a client of course). Ask your hair dresser if he or she offers something similar.

8. Clean up your online presence

Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you send out a single resume. (More online presence info to come in a future post.)

9. Affirmations

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

-Tom Blandi                                                         

It’s easy to get discouraged during any endeavor, so it’s imperative you begin with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you won’t get down from time to time, we are all human, but it’s much easier to pick yourself back up if you start with a positive frame of mind.

I love having positive affirmations written down that I can turn to. Try reading a few out loud before you go to bed, or when you first get up in the morning, or if you feel yourself struggling through the day or week to accomplish your goals. Here are some I really like:

I have confidence in myself.                                                                          I am skilled and talented.                                                                              I will make an excellent addition to any organization or business.      I make a difference whenever I can.

This site has some great examples, find something that works for you!

10. Make it happen!

I’m a big believer in the power of our thoughts and the ability to manifest what we desire into our lives (hence the positive affirmations above).  After you figure out what you are really wanting in a career, write it down, look at it every day, tape it to your bathroom mirror or other visible space. Don’t limit yourself to anything at this stage, I say dream big. You may not manifest everything you want in that first job, but over the years, you will be amazed how you have the power to mold your life to the shape you most desire. 

Finding a job may not be easy, but believing in yourself and setting a solid foundation to launch the job search from, will make the process a lot more fun, and being successful far more likely.

What are some foundational steps that you apply when embarking on a new journey or challenge, please share below!

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