Ep. 105 | Marketing’s Hidden Job Market

In this week’s episode, we talk with Mac Prichard, founder and publisher of Mac’s List and host of the Find Your Dream Job podcast, about the hidden job market and what marketer’s can be doing to land their next great gig, as well as what employers can be doing to hire the perfect candidate.

Founded in Portland, Oregon in 2001, Mac’s List serves job seekers and employers with a job board as well as courses, books, events, and other resources that bring people together to find better jobs and happier careers.
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 between them by teaching preparation, empathy, and people-focused hiring practices with a practical, nuts-and-bolts style that’s accessible for everyone. Mac believes in the power of business as a force for good, and both his businesses are registered B Corporations. He is also the author of “Land Your Dream Job Anywhere” and host of the weekly career advice podcast Find Your Dream Job.

Act-On’s Helen Veyna, Content Marketing Specialist, joined us in the interview.

Picture of Mac Prichard for the Rethink Marketing podcast where he talks about marketing's hidden job market

Nathan: Mac, can you just tell us a little bit more about yourself and Mac’s List?

Mac: Absolutely. Thank you, first of all, for having me on the show, Nathan and Helen. It’s a pleasure. Mac’s list is based in Portland, Oregon. It’s an online community for people looking for rewarding meaningful work. At the heart of it is a job board that contains in a typical month about 500 job listings, mostly from Washington and Oregon. But we provide a lot of content about how to look for work because most positions never get advertised. So we attract a national audience, people who want to get good at job hunting. And we help them through the podcast, articles on the website, several books and online courses, and events here in the Pacific Northwest.

Nathan: And you mentioned Mac’s List as being sort of local to the northwest. Helen and I are also in Portland with you. We’ve both been users of Mac’s List over the years. And from that, the podcast, did the podcast grow out of the Mac’s List or can you tell us a little bit more about the podcast and kind of what topics, what a typical show includes?

Mac: Well, Mac’s List began as an informal newsletter for people. I was sending job postings to colleagues I wanted to stay in touch with. And I started this as a way of networking with my peers and also to be of service to others. And that began in 2001 when I left a position at the state capital, I’ve been working in politics and government there for about a decade. And nobody gets upset about getting a job posting. And I did that for many years. And then eventually, it became a part-time job. And I, along the way, Nathan, I’d started a public relations company that works with foundations and non-profits. And I still spend half of my time running that firm. But I was beginning to pay someone to do this list and I wasn’t charging anything for it. So I turned it into a website about eight years ago. And we do charge employers for the listings and we’ve grown so that today the site attracts about 40,000 people a month. And we have a weekly newsletter that goes out every Tuesday with that week’s new jobs. And that has about 15,000 subscribers.

Mac: We started the podcast again because most jobs never get advertised. They’re filled by word of mouth, they’re part of what’s called the hidden job market. And many people struggle with looking for work because it’s a skill we might turn to only when we need to find a job. And for most of us, we’re in a position for five or 10 years. So it’s a skill that we don’t get to practice very often. And because we hear from so many job seekers, and that’s gratifying, that’s why we provide this content. To help them find a position they can love.

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Helen:  I’m really interested in this idea of the hidden job market. Can you tell us more about the opportunities and insights you may have for marketers listening to the show? And before we dive into that, can you give us an update on the overall job market? It seems to me that it’s a buyer’s market for job seekers. Is that correct?

Mac: It is. Let’s break that down into two parts, Helen. Let’s talk about the hidden job market. And I encourage your listeners to think about when they hire. They probably do post a position on the company website. Maybe they buy a listing on Indeed, or Craigslist, or a local board like Mac’s List wherever they might be. But then they do something else. They take that listing and they attach it to an email that they send to their colleagues. And they say, “Hey, I’m looking for somebody to help me with this or that. Send good people my way.” And they occasionally get emails like that from their colleagues. And that’s the hidden job market. It’s word of mouth. Because when that application comes back from someone and they say, “Oh, I got an email from Helen. She told me about the position and I’m sending in my application,” chances are you’re gonna pull that resume out of the pile and you’re gonna take a look at it. And the reason you’re gonna do so is because of risk. It is risky to hire someone. And it’s expensive. And if you don’t get it right … And it usually takes three, six, sometimes nine months to figure it out, you have to start all over again. And that … You’ve lost money and you’ve lost time.

Mac: So to manage risk, people send out emails like the one I talked about because they’re tapping into something that’s very powerful. We’re much more comfortable hiring people we know and we’ve worked with, who have a track record with us, and we’re also more comfortable hiring people who are recommended to us by people we know and trust. Our challenge when we’re looking for work is to understand how the hidden job market works and make that system work for us. And the way you do that is you pay attention to job postings on sites like Mac’s List, or Indeed, or Craigslist. But that could be, according to some estimates, only about 20% of the available jobs out there. According to some experts, as many as eight out of 10 jobs never get posted. And most people spend sometimes up to 100%, or 90, or 80% of their time just looking at job boards. Think about how many opportunities they’re missing as a result. So you need to understand how the market works if you’re looking for work. And you also need to understand how to find those hidden jobs. And we can talk more about how to do that.