What makes you successful at job-hunting?
Episode 97 - Two career experts discuss what makes professionals successful at job-hunting - with Mac Prichard
The key to success in job hunting is understanding how recruitment works
Mac Prichard is a fellow podcaster and hosts the Find Your Dream Job podcast. I noticed from reviewing my podcast statistics that my listeners were also listening to Mac's podcast. So I decided to reach out to him and introduce myself. He wrote a lovely review for The Job Hunting Podcast on iTunes, and I invited him to come in for a chat.
In this episode, Mac and I discuss crucial learnings from our careers that motivated us to help job-hunters understand how recruitment works. Mac runs a job board and career hub in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, so I had many questions for him:
What led Mac to start a job board
Why he believes it's essential for professionals to understand how recruitment work
How the pandemic affected Mac's job board and how it's recovering
What are the professional skills that he believes are important for a post-pandemic workplace
How are workplaces going to build an organizational culture in a virtual world
And many others.
This quote from Mac summarizes our chat nicely: "Selling yourself is important, but it's not everything. You have to know what you want to do, where you want to work, and what you offer to employers." I couldn't agree more.
About our guest, Mac Prichard
Mac Prichard is on a mission to create more human hiring processes to improve the workforce for all. He is the founder and publisher of Mac's List, a job board and career hub for the Pacific Northwest. It serves job seekers and employers in Oregon and Washington with its top-tier job board and courses, books, events, and other resources that bring people together to find better jobs and happier careers. Mac's List became a Certified B Corporation in 2017.
Mac built two small businesses on the strength of his professional network, and he has taught thousands of people how to grow their careers through relationships with others. Mac shows job seekers and employers how to break down the barriers by teaching empathy, curiosity, and people-focused hiring with a practical, nuts-and-bolts style. He is also the author of the book "Land Your Dream Job Anywhere" and the host of the weekly career advice podcast Find Your Dream Job. To learn more about Mac and Mac's List, please check his website and LinkedIn profile.
Mac and I share our mission to help others be successful at job-hunting. I hope you enjoy this conversation and that it helps raise awareness for the essential issues you will need to tackle to achieve your career goals.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
09:11 - What led Mac to start a job board
14:21 - The importance of understanding how recruitment works
18:33 - How the pandemic affected Mac's job board and how it's recovering
21:30 - Professional skills that are important for a post-pandemic workplace
27:52 - Building organizational culture in a virtual world
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Hello and welcome to the job hunting podcast. It's in the middle of winter here in Melbourne. I'm recording this in the middle of a very tough lockdown, and it was a pleasure today to speak to somebody who is experiencing a very nice warm summer weather up in the Northern hemisphere. Mac Pritchard is a fellow podcaster and the co-host of the Find Your Dream Job podcast. I noticed from reviewing my podcast statistics, that my listeners were also listening to Mac’s podcast. So I decided to reach out to him and introduce myself. He wrote a lovely review of my podcast on iTunes, and I then invited him to come in for a chat. And it's a pleasure for me to meet people from all over the world and get to know fellow career enthusiasts like Mac, and understand how things are going up, where he's based and how similar or different it is from where I am.
Renata: It's a very important part of my job, keeping up with things that are happening all around the world. I have listeners from all around the world and I have clients from all around the world. So it's really important to me. And to be able to share that catch up with you is also, I think that a very interesting thing that I can do instead of just talking to Mac by myself, and we then discussed a whole bunch of things that I think you will enjoy listening to reinforcing some of the messages from previous episodes but also coming up with some new ideas for you. Mac is the founder and publisher of Mac's list. Mac's list is a job board in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, helping employers and job candidates in Portland and Seattle. Mack also operates Prichard communications, a public relations agency that serves non-profits, public agencies, and foundations across the United States.
Renata: As I said, he has a podcast about careers. So make sure that you find, Find Your Dream Job podcast and listen to it as well, if you haven't done. So I'm assuming some of you already do that because that's how I found out about it. And he wrote a book that there is a link to the book below. So if you want to know more about Mac's book about job hunting, that's a great resource for you. I haven't read it yet, but I'm ordering one for me. So I will tell you in the future, my experiences, but on this conversation I had with him, I'm sure I'm going to love it.
Renata: So what did we talk about? I will tell you in a minute. But before I do that, I want to invite you to subscribe and follow this podcast, please, wherever you found this, if you found this on audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, apple podcast, you can subscribe, you can follow, leave me a review. I'd love to hear from you and know what you thought about this episode or other episodes that you liked. And also please rank because this is how podcasts get found. This is how people find podcasts like the job hunting podcasts. So it will be an honor to receive that little gift from you. If you can subscribe to my newsletter, I have a weekly newsletter for job seekers and career enthusiasts. It goes out every Tuesday morning, Australian Eastern standard time with a new episode and lots of interesting articles that are curated specifically for jobs seekers, and people that are keen to make great career plans and advance in their careers. So very careful about what I choose to share. And I also, you know, update you on what's happening what's new. And if you're listening to this episode, you probably know that we're running the group coaching at the moment, by the time this episode goes to air.
Renata: And that it's always a pleasure for me to do my group coaching program. If you want to know about my services and understand what else is there for you to do before the end of the year, go to my website. There's a link to it in the episode show notes as well. And, find out how you can participate as a client, or, you know, maybe attend one of my free masterclasses, join the Facebook group. There are lots of opportunities for you not to feel lonely in your job hunt. This is my biggest mission on earth is to make sure that the job candidates feel supported, feel that they have the knowledge to go through recruitment and selection. And I have a feeling that this interview will reinforce that I'm not alone in this because Mac has this wonderful job board and he has experienced, like I have, unemployment and decided to do something about it in a very different way from me, but we have the same DNA and the same mission in life.
Renata: So I'm very keen that I have found him from such a faraway land. We discuss what led Mac to start a job board, the importance of understanding how recruitment works, how the pandemic affected Mac’s job board, and how it's recovering from it. Skills that are important post-pandemic for job seekers to know of and activate as soon as possible and organizational culture in a virtual world. How is it going to be developed? How are we going to build this and design this new organizational culture when we're not physically with each other. So we discuss lots of interesting things and share experiences from Mac's career, and the reasons why he thinks it's so important to share that knowledge now with job seekers out there that are keen to find a job keen to advance in their careers. We both have podcasts. I have lots of services and I coach people and he has this great job board and activates a lot of great things, not only in his region but because of the podcast reaches out to a global audience like I do. So there's a lot of common ground here that we share. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Like I said, follow me, subscribe, and follow Mac’s podcast as well.
Renata: Hi Mac.
Mac: Hi. How are you?
Renata: I'm good. How are you doing?
Mac: I'm well, yeah.
Renata: Excellent. Look at us catching up from, you know, the other side of the world.
Mac: Yes. You're in the future. I'm in the past.
Renata: Just a few hours behind. What time is it now?
Mac: Oh, gosh. It's 7:00 PM on Monday here. Tell me your date and time.
Renata: It's 12:00 PM on Tuesday. Yeah. It's a little different when you're in Australia, you're far away from everything you feel like you're on the bottom of the world at times.
Mac: Well, I've never been there, but it's on my list and I just hear wonderful things about Australia.
Renata: Well, half the country is in lockdown at the moment. So why don't you tell us, how are things where you are? Where are you? Let people know where you are.
Mac: In Portland, Oregon, we're in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. We're about an hour from the Pacific ocean and 12 hours by car north of San Francisco, about 10 hours south, by car, south of Vancouver in British Columbia.
Renata: And what led you to base yourself in this beautiful area? I'm assuming it's must be gorgeous.
Mac: It's a lovely part of the country. My wife and I came here 30 years ago, this summer, we were living on the east coast of the United States in Boston. We'd been there for almost a decade and we wanted to change in life. And we were attracted by the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest
Renata: Mac, I’ve interviewed a couple of people that have made big career changes, but included with that tree changes or sea changes. Do you feel like that's what you've done as well?
Mac: Two or three big changes?
Renata: Yeah, like you know, changing careers or moving across the country and, you know, starting a new life in a completely different area. Usually a regional area.
Mac: I have certainly changed careers several times and I have lived in different parts of the country. So I grew up in the Midwest in a state here called Iowa about three hours west of Chicago and lived there the first two decades of my life. And then moving to New England and then Boston was, was very different. And then, uh, being on the west coast is quite different from Boston and the Midwest. So, I have done it three times and professionally I've also changed careers. When I left university a number of decades ago. I wanted to do three things. I wanted to get paid, to write for a living. I wanted to work on political campaigns and I wanted to work in human rights advocacy. And I've been fortunate to do all three things in the course of my career.
Renata: Yes, I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and I can see you have a government affairs political advisory background, which is so interesting. And now here you are helping people find jobs and helping employers recruit the best talent. What led you to make that career transition? Am I explaining it right? What do you do now? Maybe you could do a better job.
Mac: No, I think you're very clear. I run two small businesses. One is a regional job board. It's called https://macslist.org . If you visit the site, you'll find hundreds of jobs there in the states of Oregon and Washington. We also provide lots of content about how to look for work as well as information about how to hire great candidates. Um, I also run a public relations company that works with governments, nonprofits, and, uh, philanthropic organizations, foundations. Uh, and I've been doing that for 15 years and I've been running the job board in one form or another for two decades. Uh, I got into the job board business because I had two long periods of unemployment. One was in my twenties and one of my thirties so I know what it's like to cash the last unemployment check takes about 30 weeks, uh, to reach that point here in the United States.
Mac: And I came within one week of doing it a second time. And those experiences taught me two important lessons that eventually led me to create Mac's list. Uh, one was the importance of learning job search skills. You can't just respond to ads. You've got to learn how hiring works and, uh, and then make, once you understand the system, find ways to make it work for you. The other important lesson I learned was the importance, the value of networking and building relationships with others. Good networkers don't just ask for help. They, they serve others. And my, uh, my form of service came in sharing job posting. So I think everybody who's listening, we all get this email from a former colleague, a classmate, Hey, we're looking for help, uh, at our company or a nonprofit at our university. If you here, here's a posting. If you hear of any good candidates, send them my way or pass this along. I got a few more of those than most people, uh, but not that many, but what I did that was different was I started, uh, sharing them with first, dozens, and eventually hundreds of people. And I did that because it was a way to be helpful to others. And nobody complains about getting a job posting and eventually it turned in to the business that we have today.
Renata: That's great. It’s such a great story. And so it was just such a powerful one as well. And I'm so glad that we've connected because we come from the same DNA, I feel Mack. Um, so that strength of communicating and advocating and championing for causes and policies. And now people are part of your DNA.
Mac: It is, and I've had many different jobs. I'm old, I'm 62. Uh, so I've been in the workplace for more than 40 years. I also worked in grade school and high school. But in my professional life, while I've been a speechwriter to a governor, communications director for state agencies and nonprofits, um, and worked in political campaigns and for elected officials, there's a constant that runs through all these different jobs. And that's trying to make a difference about issues I care about or in the community where I live and work.
Renata: Yeah. Was it hard for you, however, to transition your advocacy from your clients and your politicians to yourself? How do you explain the periods of unemployment? Do you find that that was kind of an environmental effect on the areas that you wanted to work for or where you, um, at the time, struggling to sell yourself to others? Because ironically Mac, I have a lot of clients that have a similar background than you, you know, their comes from comms, corporate affairs, and marketing, and they're easier to train and coach. But it's funny And we often laugh at how easy it is for them to be great professionals in their field, but how hard it is for them to sell themselves.
Mac: The point you're making is a good one. And I think the key idea here is you've got to sell yourself. And I certainly, when I was out of work, knew how to advise my clients or my employers on how to promote their ideas or their services. I thought the most effective way of selling myself, particularly the first time I was out of work was to reply to job ads. And I, I simply didn't know any better. And part of it was I'd had just blind, good luck until then. So, I left college and I replied to an ad in the newspaper. I got a job in a US Senate race. Um, and it was a wonderful experience. I'd had an internship at university and, and then, uh, that led to a professional job in Washington, DC, which was waiting for me right after the US Senate campaign.
Mac: And then the third job I got just through word of mouth. It was with the human rights group in Boston that, uh, uh, was looking for help. And someone who knew about the position told me about it. I cold-called the manager and the hiring manager introduced myself and, um, three weeks later had an offer. in hindsight, I can see all the things I did right without knowing how to do it. But when I left that third job, I thought it would be easy to get the next one. And I, I meet, uh, people professionally who still, um, have that experience. And what I didn't understand is how hiring works. And once you understand that, then marketing and selling yourself is an important part of it, but it's not the only thing. You also got to know what you want to do and where you want to work and what you offer to employers.
Mac: Because in that first period of unemployment, I was sending out the letters in response to ads, the old pre-internet days. And, uh, uh, and I was getting interviews, but I wasn't getting offers. And I wasn't getting offers because it was in hindsight I can see it was clear to the interviewers. I didn't know what I wanted to do next. I was uncertain and that's natural. Um, but your job then is to figure that out. And I also didn't, while I was interested in these employers, I didn't know them well, and I didn't understand what their challenges were. And I, I couldn't, if I didn't know what their problems were, it's very difficult to show how you can help them. And so those are things you have to do, uh, whether you're a professional marketer or, uh, a job candidate of any kind. Where you want to go, what you offer and above all, what kind, what job do you want?
Renata: And how long have you had your job at job board? I forget it's been what, a decade or more?
Mac: Yes, for almost 10 years, I shared the listings informally through an email list. And then 10 years ago I launched a website and, uh, and then started charging for postings about, uh, seven years ago.
Renata: So I'm assuming that like me, 2020 and 2021 were a rollercoaster ride for you. So for context for you, I was just starting the job hunting podcast. Whereas your podcast has been going for quite a while. And I remember batching all this content and recording a lot of episodes in a row and then realizing they were all redundant topics that nobody would want to hear about them anymore. And I had to very quickly, um, try, you know, something new and record things really. Um, just in time, um, every week, um, doing something that was really resonating with what was happening. Frankly, I was only a few hours ahead of other people from having done a bit more research. And I'm wondering how, how it affected you, your job board and the job hunters, and the Pacific Northwest.
Mac: We, uh, at the business, we saw a big drop in revenue in March and April of 2020. And it didn't bottom out until June of that year. And then slowly it began going up. Uh, and since January of this year, uh, our website sales are almost back to where they were in 2019. So it, uh, it was a dramatic drop in job postings though. And, and, and because we didn't know what would happen next. Um, I have a staff of four and we did furlough people two days a week. And we have a government program here that allows you to pay people unemployment benefits when they've been furloughed if you maintain healthcare and other benefits. So unemployment in the United States, you're not in Oregon, provides about 45% of your lost wages. It doesn't replace it, but it's, it's, um, better than not getting anything.
Mac: And our goal was to avoid eliminating jobs, to keep the team together. And, um, uh, because, you know, it's a catastrophe when you lose your job and also for the company, you, you want to hold onto your people, they're your best asset. So it was, uh, it was a challenging year, uh, in terms of traffic to the website and the podcast. Uh, we did see big drops, uh, in the spring and talking to other job board operators in the United States, they saw similar drops, but the numbers began going up in the summer. And, and we're now back to, um, pre-pandemic levels of traffic.
Renata: And Mac, this traffic that's now coming back is it very similar to pre-COVID times, or do you find that the job ads and what employers want are somewhat different?
Mac: The difference is it's a job-seekers market here in the United States right now, and that is a big change. Employers, particularly in the service industry are, uh, sometimes struggling with that. There were big layoffs of people in service industries, particularly in the hospitality, businesses, restaurants, hotels, and all those businesses went offline at about the same time. And they all came back at the same time. So they're all competing for a smaller group of workers, because many workers in the United States, uh, this spring and summer have decided they want to think, uh, before they take their next opportunity. And, there was a record number of people in the United States, uh, this spring who quit their jobs voluntarily the highest number in 20 years. So it's, it's early days yet, but what appears to be happening is people have gone through this big dramatic life-changing experience. And they're either thinking carefully about what they want to do next before they say yes to returning to jobs they had, or they're in jobs now that they're thinking, well, I want to do something different and, uh, I'll figure that out. Uh, but I don't want to do this anymore.
Renata: Yeah. And if you are talking to people on your podcast, what are the topics that are interesting for them and for you to talk about post-pandemic, or are we in the middle of a pandemic still, but I'm just trying to get an idea of what the interest is overseas. I'll tell you what they are here in Australia. Here in Australia, there is a lot of talk about moving to regional areas. So people have identified that they don't need to go back to the workplace anymore. Telstra, which is our biggest telecommunication company in Australia yesterday announced that they are workplace agnostic and my husband, for example, works for an American company called DXC. And they're also, um, promoting the fact that they are now virtual and they're the biggest virtual company in the world. So you can work from home forever if you want to. This has caused the tremendous, um, increasing house prices in regional areas and rentals as well. So everybody's moving away from the big lockdown towns, cities like Melbourne and Sydney, for example, is that something that you're experiencing in the US as well?
Mac: There's certainly interest in, um, working remotely from smaller towns and cities, and you'll see, uh, pundents and newspaper articles about what is called zoom towns, places that are far from metropolitan areas. And the mayors and councils in those places are, are certainly boosting that idea. I haven't seen data that shows a huge change is happening. I think the big change that is happening here is, uh, most major employers who provide office jobs, They haven't brought their employees who have been working remotely back to work in significant numbers yet that starting to happen this summer and fall, or even not until early next year. The numbers vary but it appears to be that, uh, with large office employers, a significant, uh, if not a majority, a significant minority of the workforce has been working remotely. And as a result, people who have been doing that are telling their managers, they either don't want to come back at all, or they want to just come back one or two days a week. Remote work and telework is something that has been under discussion and in the United States for decades, but it never really seemed to take off.
Mac: And I think, um, now that you're seeing companies where 30, 35, 40% of their workforce has been working remotely and wants to keep doing it, uh, they're probably not going to come back in significant numbers and, um, that is probably going to be a lasting change. In the social change I work in, I do in politics, they say the magic number is 25%. If you can get, um, 25% of a community to change their behavior, support an idea, that's the tipping point. And so it appears that we probably have hit the tipping point for remote work and hybrid work. Um, I think for job seekers, uh, and people who have jobs, that can be a great thing. Now, you can avoid the commute and, uh, you, uh, perhaps can move to an area to be closer to family or, um, uh, or, or things that are important to you, like, uh, natural beauty.
Mac: I think you also need to recognize that for employers are now instead of concentrating on a local market and only looking at candidates in their town or city, they're going to start looking across the country or even globally. So for candidates and people in, uh, mid-career or starting their careers, I think that means you've got to pay attention both to your virtual job search skills and your work skills. Once you're in a position you're going to be able to work well remotely, you've got to be able to interview well on zoom, got to know how to network with both colleagues and with, uh, industry leaders online and virtually because, uh, if we are moving into a Rimmer remote workforce future, people who have the skills to thrive in that environment are the ones that are gonna have the most success.
Renata: Absolutely. And it's interesting to see how, um, people that perform really well face to face, uh, have not transitioned so well, um, to an online environment. Um, and, and I was listening to your, I think it was your latest podcast, Mac, I don't know if you, if you have another one, but I'll, I'll have a link to it below, and it was this, um, very nice guy. You interviewed about organizational culture. Do you remember that one? Um, yeah, and I, I was listening to it and thinking, gosh, how is it that we're going to work on organizational culture virtually if this is what's going to happen now, it's so much easier when you're in the water cooler or when you have everybody together. And there's this other chap in the UK, and I'll put a link to his Twitter below because he tweets very interesting, um, ideas about potentially in the future, um, during face-to-face whenever you have to have this company experience so that you can boost the culture, but it's a point in time, isn't it Mac like it's, it's a point in time. And then you go back to your lonely office. And I was wondering, you know, how, how workplaces and workers are going to cope mentally and also be productive over time. And what sort of work is going to be very effective done from individual home offices and what sort of work will require us to sort of rethink and redesign how we do business. Have you put some thought into it?
Mac: Well, I've been struck by the, uh, unanimity almost about productivity in remote work. There doesn't seem to be any disagreement here in the United States. I don't know what it's like there, uh, that people who are working remotely have been, uh, as productive as ever even more productive. And of course, the concern before the pandemic, when you would hear about telework is, well, how do I know you'll someone will, uh, uh, be at their computer. They could be doing their laundry or running errands and all this sort of fell by the wayside. So I, I think that, um, th that's striking to me, I do think remote work has been happening in at a much smaller scale for a long time now. So I think our challenge is going to be, to look at examples of how organizations have successfully grown cultures when, uh, organizational cultures, when they, uh, have had their workforce distributed across the country, or even the globe. I know the examples are out there. And to your point, I think the organizations that get good at that work, uh, and the employees, um, who learn how to thrive in it are the ones that are going to have the most success and the best careers.
Renata: Yes, yes. So this is, um, new territory for both of us, to, um, dig into for a few episodes. Can you share with us some of your ideas for 2021, 2022? What are you planning to do with the job board, with the podcast?
Mac: Well, our podcast is a weekly show. It's called Find Your Dream Job. We focus on the nuts and bolts of job search. We get pretty granular about it, and that's what our listeners come for. Practical advice about how to get your next job. And we look at topics like resume writing, interview preparation, uh, goal setting. Uh, and we're always thinking about in both choosing the guests and the topics and the questions about the needs of job seekers. While I run a job board and I'm very proud of the value it offers both to our employers and our readers, I'll be the first to tell you if you're spending more than 20 or 30% of your time looking at job boards like mine, you're making your search harder and a lot more painful than it needs to be. Um, yeah.
Renata: Mac, I have an optimized job search schedule that I've designed for that reason. Yes. I'd love to share with you. It's a two-part workshop that I did the end of up last year to help people that had lost their jobs and didn't want to spend Christmas, you know, just thinking about it and worrying about it. It just wanted to get on with trying to find work. You know, some people don't celebrate festivities or depending on their culture, or I remember losing my job just before Christmas in the past, and I know how stressful it can be. And, you know, you don't do anything, but also you don't celebrate anything cause you don't, you're not in the mood. So I did this optimized job, so it's schedule, and it has a full-time schedule, a part-time schedule in a light version. So if you have a job and your job hunting on the side, you can use the light version. And I did that because of what you just said, you know, so many people think that job hunting is basically going on a job board and just that rabbit hole, it's almost like social media or Facebook or anything like that. It just captures your, or your attention and you're there for hours. And then you start losing track of what you need to do. So I'll share it with you and I'll have a link on the episode, show notes if anybody wants to download it.
Mac: Oh, I'd love to see it. And, you know what, I look ahead to the next year and beyond, there are many changes that are happening and remote work is a huge part of it. And, and, and, and the effect that the pandemic has had on all of us, but in careers and job search, I think the fundamentals matter more than ever because, uh, particularly with so much work going online and happening remotely, it's going to be more competition. And so the people who are good at job search fundamentals and are thinking strategically about their career, um, are going to have the most success and that's, and so that's, that's a constant for us. And those are ideas and topics that we return to, again and again, on our podcast and, and in the work that we do on our website.
Renata: No, that's excellent Mac, you know, I found you because I was doing some research and I realized that people that are listening to my podcast are listening to your podcast and my podcast is a baby compared to yours. So thank you for coming on board and speaking to us here. Um, it's a real honor to meet you and to connect with, um, people like you who share this love and interest in a real mission to help others find their career paths and improve, um, in their job-hunting skills. So thank you for coming on board.
Mac: Well, it's an honor, and I appreciate the opportunity. I have listened to about a dozen of your shows. You're doing great work. You're helping a lot of people, so kudos to you.
Renata: Ah, thanks, bye for now Mac.
Mac: All right. Bye. Bye.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
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