How to Unlock the Hidden Job Market and Change Careers Successfully

How to Unlock the Hidden Job Market and Change Careers Successfully

So much of the job seeking process has moved online into social media, job boards, and applicant tracking systems. But is this the most effective way to job search these days? What about the so-called “hidden job market,” and how do we find those less publicized or Google-able opportunities? Peter Paskill, Owner and CEO of CareerMakers, joins Brandon Laws in a discussion of how to navigate the job market in a focused, determined way, and come out of it with your dream job. In this podcast, Peter not only shares best practices for job seekers, but he provides insight to the behaviors of job seekers that recruiters will learn from.

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MP3 File | Run Time: 36:48

Brandon: Welcome to the HR for Small Business Podcast, this is your host Brandon Laws. Today I’m with owner and CEO of CareerMakers, Peter Paskill. He specializes in career counseling, outplacement, and retention. He has 33 years of experience in the business and has helped over 8,000 individuals find and create new and rewarding opportunities. Peter, it’s awesome to have you here.

Peter: Thank you! Glad to be here.

Brandon: So you sent me this article I loved. It’s called “The Ten Truths of the Job/Career Transition.” I wanted to center our discussion around that article and elaborate on some of the points that you made. I think it’s going to be helpful for this audience in particular, HR professionals. Whether they’re in career transition or they’re helping employees through career transition, I think this is going to be perfect content for them.

Peter: Oh good!

Brandon: One of your first points was that employers tend to hire people they know and like versus somebody who has a diverse background and diverse experience, or somebody who doesn’t maybe think and look the same way as them. Why does that happen?

Peter: Well, I think what happens is that from a job seeker’s perspective, they have a lot of anxiety, fears, apprehension, a lot of questions, and not nearly enough answers for them. That’s well and good. What we don’t understand, I think, is how anxiety-producing it is for the person who is hiring somebody. They’re fearful of making a mistake.

Brandon: So they go with the safe bet.

Peter: If I can get a referral or if I can hire somebody I know, if I can hire somebody who is similar, someone who is like-minded to my area of interest, I’m much more likely to do something with that person rather than a stranger.

Brandon: The referral is a good point because you’re almost outsourcing the decision, in a way. You’re saying, Well, this person recommended them.

Peter: Absolutely.

Brandon: So I take the responsibility off me as a recruiter and now oh, well, it’s their fault.

Peter: What I see in my business is that probably 80-85% of my clients, the people who are trying to find or create new, better, fantastic jobs are landing or creating those jobs through personal referrals. 80-85%! That’s a remarkable number. I think that we sort of know that. If I can hire somebody, referral promotions from within, all those things are emotionally-driven. I want to reduce my anxiety. I want to put more value on the I know in contrast to the I wonder.

If we’re hiring or talking to people we don’t know, we see this resume or something like that or an application, there are still a lot of I wonder’s attended with that. If I can get a referral or somebody that I have acquaintances with, I’m more in the I know, both in the emotional sense, which is very important, and the analytical sense. People tend to hire people they know or who have been referred to them. I see it happening every day.

Brandon: You said 80-85% of the time they’re hiring somebody they know or within the network.

Peter: Absolutely.

Brandon: Do you see that changing, ever?

Peter: No, actually, it has been pretty steady. There’s a lot of fluff, if you will, a lot of static out there about online applications and all the stuff that is out there. But people are still hiring people. People still have anxieties and fears. Those haven’t gone away. We tend to suppress it. We tend to talk to the rightness of and the level of communication that has to do with laws, rules and regulations, EEO, affirmative action. Those are all part of the fabric of our culture, certainly. But when it comes down to the hiring person, that really hasn’t changed. Those anxieties, those fears haven’t changed. They’re still there.

Brandon: It sounds like this isn’t going to change and 80-85% of the time they’re still going to hire people that they know and like or a referral or whatever it is, but somebody within a network. It’s a safe decision. So job seekers, they obviously need to be networked and connected.

Peter: Absolutely.

Brandon: If they aren’t, then they’re one of the 10, 15, 20 percent, and those are not good odds.

Peter: No, not good odds at all. I think we have to have a balanced approach to this process. We need to look at this as a process, understand the process which most job seekers don’t understand, and have a balanced approach. If you talk to an expert – and I think I’m an expert.

Brandon: You are.

Peter: From my professional experience, about 80-85% of my clients are finding or creating jobs through personal referrals. That’s networking. It’s people interaction. Then I should have a balanced approach that leans heavily towards that and the isolation of sitting home by myself, behind the computer, should be 10%.

Brandon: Which is all too common nowadays through.

Peter: Yeah. But for most of us, it’s just the reverse. I’m sitting at home, looking at the internet because we’re told – brainwashed, if you will – that everything we need to know today is on the internet, right? Not so much.

Brandon: Not so much.

Peter: But we’ve been told that and it’s easier. Since I have a sense that I can control my destiny by grazing the internet, not fully understanding that the process is working against me – because the internet is used more from the job search I believe. It has more to do with deselecting people than selecting.

We have companies and I think you guys are familiar with this. You know, whether it’s PeopleSoft or Taleo. We have there called “applicant tracking systems.”

Brandon: Yeah.

Peter: You’re familiar with those.

Brandon: Oh, yeah.

Peter: What’s the missing word there? It’s called an “applicant tracking system.” What’s the missing word?

Brandon: Filtration?

Peter: Hiring. It has nothing to do with hiring! So we have all the stuff on the internet and it has more to do with satisfying laws, rules, and regulations that companies must adhere to. But it has nothing to do with hiring.

Brandon: From my perspective, it’s about efficiencies as well. Those tools are about abiding by the laws of course and collecting the information that you need to. It’s also about cutting down on wasted time of sifting through the resumes. But then it could be filtering out people that may be actually qualified.

Peter: I mean I’ve seen this many times where one of my clients, through their network, we’re creating and establishing or reestablishing, enhancing relationships with people and companies and organizations that they know are offered opportunities and then – and they say, Well, the job is yours. But now we’ve got to post it.

Brandon: Out of requirement?

Peter: Yes, out of laws, out of requirement. So they go – they do a posting and the people who are not there see it on the internet and they go, Oh, I can do that job.

Brandon: So is this the hidden job market that you’re referring to?

Peter: Yes it is.

Brandon: The hidden job market. So those exist?

Peter: They’re huge.

Brandon: Is it abundant?

Peter: Well, there are more hidden jobs out there than you or I or the public would probably ever imagine.

Brandon: So by the time we see it on an email string or LinkedIn or on social media outlets, the job has been available for a while. That’s kind of what you’re saying?

Peter: Yeah. You’re playing catch-up. And for most of us who are playing catch-up, the odds are somewhere between slim and none. That’s why the job search takes so long. What they see is kind of old news. I think that if people understand from a process standpoint how to be there sooner than later, then they’re going to be more effective, they’re going to be more dynamic and it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier for them to find and create things. They need to understand the process and I think that’s the biggest challenge. It sends people in transition who don’t want to be there. They’re not very comfortable in terms of the employment. For most people in transitions, they’ve probably lost their job. So they’re at the end of this transition process, probably not in the best mindset, certainly not in the best emotional state. So they tend to hide out and become isolated.

Brandon: They’re scared.

Peter: And they can be paralyzed because the process is working against them. They send 100 resumes out to the black hole and they get 2 responses. They won’t feel good about that. The responses they get are not what they really want. And because they’re all by themselves, you put those two things together. Most just get paralyzed.

Brandon: What they really need to be doing, it sounds like, if you want to access this hidden job market, you have to be networking.

Peter: You also have to have a focus on what it is that you would love to be doing. I think it’s like building a house or even figuring out how to buy a car. You have to build a foundation of knowledge and I think that’s what we’re really challenged to do is to understand our transferrable skills, our traits, our characteristics, our values, all the things that make us the unique person we are, our brand.

But we also have to start looking at areas of interest. Most of the things that you and I are interested in, other people get paid to do. Why not you? Why not me? I think we dismiss that because the old way of job searches, I call it, is so hidebound by degrees, diplomas and certificates. That’s fine if you want to stay moving forward in the same area of interest. Many people do. That’s fine. Many people don’t or can’t and so therein lies a real conundrum. What am I going to do next?

I think that the more we take our areas of interest seriously, the things that differentiate between what we can do and what we want to do, there is where the energy is going to come from. That’s where networking, focused networking, comes into play. That’s where you start accessing information. That’s where you start accessing objectivity. That’s where you start enhancing your relationships in targeted areas.

I mean if you’re interested in cars, you should be out networking with your friends and associates in the world of cars. And oftentimes, we don’t do that because we think, Well, I can’t get paid to do that.

Brandon: That’s interesting. So you kind of – I think you said the brand. Everybody has a personal brand. They just don’t really know it or they don’t enhance upon it. They hold themselves back, thinking I’ve been doing this job forever. These are the only skills I have. But if you were looking to make a transition into something else, how do you highlight the skills that you do have, the expertise that you have, the experience, to highlight yourself in a way that will help you along in that transition? Is there a way to do that?

Peter: Yes, there is. I kind of want to back up one step—I think the longer we’re in a career path, whether it’s an industry-focused career path or whether it’s job label career path, I think it’s harder for us because we have these blinders on and the world has blinders on too, for us to imagine that we can do anything else.

When you take a person who has been in software development for 30 years, he or she can’t imagine or is very challenged to imagine that they can do something else. We can. So that’s an emotional issue for us. But we have skills. We have traits that are transferable to other areas of interest. So we need to start defining what those transferable skills are and then we support our contention that we have those transferable skills and we’re good at them by creating success stories, telling the world how successful we are, that we have achievements and we have results. If I have the skill of planning or organizing or facilitating, I need to be able to come up with achievements that are based upon using that skill.

Brandon: Yeah.

Peter: So that becomes transferable. We want to stay away from the hidebound, historical, if I dare say, obituary resume and then we talk about a skills brief or a qualifications brief that is also very different because it becomes a sales brochure rather than a resume or historical document. I think if we want to change careers, certainly in particular, but even if you want to stay on the same career path, you’ve got to be people-focused. You got to get out and talk to people anytime, anywhere, any place. I think that’s a real challenge for us to do and it’s a challenge for us to use the pronoun “I” because we’ve been told all these years it’s bad manners. At the very least, it’s impolite. But if you can’t brag about yourself, you’re going to be challenged.

Brandon: When I read content online, I actually prefer when people write in the first person. I think it’s more interesting.

Peter: It is more interesting, isn’t it? Most people don’t do it.

Brandon: Yeah.

Peter: It’s third person. It’s a narrative of what – you know, where’s Peter here. Where’s Brandon here? If you couple “I” with skills, that becomes a lot more powerful than just a list of experiences.

So I think that for people who are looking or wanting to make a change in particular, they need to talk about and own those transferable skills. I have had a lifelong passion for flying, aviation, and airplanes. If I was to move from the company I’m in now, if I were to sell CareerMakers and stay in the workforce, I would want to go out and investigate the world of flying, aviation, and airplanes.

When people think about those types of things, one of the first things they probably are told is that you’re not qualified or you’re too old, you’re too young, you don’t have enough of this. That’s very easy for people to say but I’m not shifting to my interest of flying aviation and airplanes by label or title. I didn’t say I wanted to be a commercial pilot.

I wanted to go out and investigate. I want to research how my transferable skills of speaking, listening, planning, organizing, facilitating, and problem solving might be able to find or create an opportunity in that world of flying, aviation, and airplanes, because that’s something I truly have energy for.

Then I’m going to be able to get up this morning knowing I’m going to go out and talk to Randy at Hillsboro Aviation to do an informational interview and build my network that way. Then I’m talking about myself. I’m researching about myself and my transferables. That’s a very different approach than just looking for work.

Brandon: I’m glad you brought up informational interviews. I feel like that’s such an underutilized activity.

Peter: We don’t know how to do it.

Brandon: Why wouldn’t we do it? If you know you have a little bit of interest, why wouldn’t you want to go ask someone like yourself who has 30+ years of experience? If I was interested in getting into outplacement services or starting my own business or wanting to come work for you, why wouldn’t I say, Peter, can I buy you a cup of coffee? Can I ask you some questions?

Peter: Fear, just fear of embarrassment I think.

Brandon: Or rejection.

Peter: Rejection, yeah. Thinking you don’t know how to do it.

Brandon: We need to get over that.

Peter: With new clients, what I try to do is – because this is so intimidating to them and trying to find or create a new job can be very overwhelming to them because it’s so central and I think there’s so much information. What I try to do is say, Have you ever bought a car or gone through a courtship or bought a house? From a process standpoint, we’re more gracious to ourselves when we’re buying a car or buying a house or renting an apartment or through a courtship than we are about finding a new, better, fantastic job.

Think about it from a process standpoint. I think that what we want to do is build a foundation of ownership and then network. Make it easy. I think that the people that know you and like you are much more likely to be gracious and much more willing to put their thinking caps on for you than a stranger. But we’ve been told, Well, you’ve got to get on the internet. You’ve got to get on LinkedIn, Facebook, social media. You’ve got to have a Twitter account.

Well, that’s fine if that’s something you’re really interested in and you’re already there. A lot of people aren’t. So that becomes very intimidating and they overlook the people right in their neighborhood, people they share their daily life with, their family, their friends, the people they hang out with, they volunteer with. Those are the people you start networking with and oftentimes you say, Well, they don’t know anything. How do you know they don’t know anything? Well, I’ve never heard about it from them. Have you ever asked them? Well…

I would rather have 10 people in my network that care for me than 500 people who are on social media or 90% of them who don’t really know me.

Brandon: That’s something about social media is it’s oversaturated with information now.

Peter: Oh, yeah.

Brandon: So it’s really hard to stand out unless you’re really committed to it. I’ve seen people who have built a really good audience and personal brand. But they have to be very committed. If you’re starting from zero –

Peter: They love it. I don’t. So I need to do something else that I’m comfortable with. But we’ve been told, if you’re going to make a change, you’ve got to do all these things that are new and overwhelming and become fearful and we get anxious about it. Then I’m not going to do anything. So again, I think that it’s a process that we do kind of know, but we just don’t believe in.

Brandon: In your article, you mentioned that as a potential candidate or job seeker, the employer’s needs or the potential employer’s needs or wants aren’t as important as what you want.

Peter: Absolutely.

Brandon: Why do you say that?

Peter: Well, have you ever gone to a grocery store?

Brandon: All the time. I’ve been there three times last week.

Peter: Ok. Did you see lots of stuff there?

Brandon: Lots of stuff, a lot of options.

Peter: Yeah. Did you buy it all?

Brandon: No.

Peter: Need I say more? I think that again, there are so many options out there. Or at least we perceive that there are lots of options out there because we’re on the internet.

Brandon: Yeah.

Peter: Our gateway to information in today’s world is the internet and I think we forget that the internet is one big, paid, unregulated ad. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the reality of it is that anybody can say anything and put anything on there.

Brandon: Sure.

Peter: So from a process of hiring people with all the laws and rules and regulations and the explosion of communication today, we see a lot of things on the internet.

Brandon: A lot of things.

Peter: Which may or may not be real or be true or be appropriate. So I think that if we start at the beginning of the process and build a foundation of knowledge, AKA before you go to the grocery store, you’re much more likely to make a shopping list. So then you’re not going to be sucked into getting the new, better kumquats when you don’t like kumquats.

I think that people don’t do that enough. The easiest thing to do is look by labels and titles. So I get on the internet and I search by labels and titles. I get sucked in by all the companies or all the things out there who are saying, Come here, come here, come here.

Brandon: You’re fitting yourself into their vision for what it looks like.

Peter: Then you wonder why you’re not happy, why it doesn’t work out. If you go to the grocery store and you buy 10 items, 8 of which you don’t want or need, how are you going to feel about that? On the other hand, if you go to the grocery store with a shopping list and you just buy the things that are on the list, then you’re probably going to be more successful and feel better about saving money or getting the products, the produce, whatever it is that you want.

Brandon: Let’s relate this to the job seeker again. Now, if I’m going by the plan, my shopping list so to speak, then that would basically mean if I’m networked with the right people, or I’m so clear about what I want, maybe there’s a position out there that’s not even available that I can carve out for myself. Are you sort of saying that?

Peter: Absolutely, or there’s information out there, there are opportunities out there that you would never know that are out there because you haven’t done enough depth in your research. I think that’s the issue is that we don’t do much because we’re not focused. We don’t understand the process. We tend to look at either the things that we have done before or labels that we’ve had before. We tend to search by that, which is sort of a shotgun approach and we wonder why we’re not getting anything or we’re not seeing things when we’re just skimming the surface.

But if I’m interested in the things that I’m really interested in and I go out and start researching, I’m going to delve down and find things that – for example, if I am interested in apparel or sports equipment, that’s one of the things I’m going to research about or look at. So I’m grazing on the internet and I find companies like Adidas or Nike or Columbia Sportswear. I look at their sites and don’t see anything there. So, I guess that’s it. I graze on for something else.

What I’ve missed are the 200 other companies in Portland that are in that same area of interest that I’ve never seen because they don’t drill down enough. We have so many small businesses here in Portland that don’t advertise.

Brandon: They just don’t do a great job of broadcasting.

Peter: No. Why? Because they may not have an HR department if they’ve only got 50 employees.

Brandon: Yeah.

Peter: I’m the general manager, I’m the owner, I’m the director, I’m executive whatever. I don’t have HR, I’m going to hire somebody I know. So if I can’t get to that person through my network, I’m never going to see that. That’s a hidden job market. Oftentimes we say, Well, if it’s not a big company, I can’t get paid. That’s hogwash. I mean there are small companies that have great benefits. They have great pay. They have great stability. We tend to think of the huge companies as being the ones we should be at.

Huge companies are sloughing off employees every day. We don’t understand that. So I think if you’re going to be successful, you need to have focus and clarity and own what you want, not what someone else tells you you should have.

Brandon: I love that because I’ve seen this on the employer side. If you are so clear about your purpose or what you want, the kind of people that you want to attract, they tend to gravitate towards you, especially if they believe what you believe. On the personal side, it’s no different. It’s like if you’re very clear about what you want and you tell people, you’re more likely to attract that. If you send it out in the universe, you’re likely to get the same thing back.

Peter: Let me tell you a story and I tell stories about me because I just know me. But years and years ago in the early days of CareerMakers, I was looking to both enhance our brand and our clients. I had been a fan of talk radio and we had Bruce Williams on talk radio a long, long time ago before talk radio was what it is today.

I would listen to those people and they were on KXL. So I went to KXL and asked, you know, can we partner and maybe do a job fair and bring in Bruce Williams to do one of your programs? One thing led to another and KXL and CareerMakers and some others partnered and we created a really a huge career fair. We did two of them.

Brandon: Wow.

Peter: And we did those for a number of years and we brought in Bruce Williams and we brought in some other people. We had maybe 15,000 people that came. Very different time, very different time though. So after the career fair we would get together with the people at KXL and debrief and because we did two of them a year and brought it down to one, we were talking about keeping our presence in the community.

I was talking to the general manager and I said, You’re talking about this presence. Maybe you should have a radio show about jobs and career. He said, Well, let’s talk about that. So I promoted that, well, maybe Peter and Pam should have a radio show that would be focused on people and transitions. That would keep your audience focused on your commitment to helping people find new jobs.

So when the career fair came along, you had already built in this audience. It seemed to make sense. So they hired us and I remember the general manager said something like you just hoodwinked me! I said, What do you mean by that? He said, Well, you don’t have a test tape. You didn’t have an audio tape. You hadn’t been in this before and I hired you. He hired me because he knew me!

Brandon: And you were clear about what you wanted.

Peter: Yeah. We were on the air for a couple of years. It was a popular show and we sold out by advertisers.

Brandon: Incredible.

Peter: Now I’m not saying we’re better than anybody else. But that’s real life experience that I can relate to how people will hire people that they know. We like to hire like-minded people, particularly in the world of social service for example, non-profits. I think for a lot of people, they still think that you can’t get paid to work for a non-profit or social service. That’s old, old news because there are thousands of people in our community right here that work with non-profits and make six figures.

But again, those people, because they’re very mission-oriented, tend to hire from their volunteer organization. As I said, an example of, hiring like-minded people. That’s what it’s all about. But we can only hire like-minded people when we know what those people’s minds and hearts are.

Brandon: Absolutely.

Peter: I think that’s a challenge because we moved away from networking in person to networking in social media, which is not nearly as effective. It keeps us very isolated. It keeps us very remote.

Brandon: How we get better at the in-person networking?

Peter: I think just understand that that’s your only tool. Remember that LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter – and I’m not anti any of those. They’re out there to promote themselves and so they’re telling the world how wonderful they are. I’m not saying they’re not wonderful. But I think we allow that to rule our process. We forget about the people in the next room because they can’t help us. My sister can’t help us. My brother can’t help us, my dad or uncle. Why? Well, they don’t know anything about this. How do you know? Well, they’ve never – yeah. That’s the little scenario I think we play.

I think that we need to talk to people who know us and like us. That hasn’t changed. The people that we share our daily life with, that hasn’t changed. The people that we volunteer with or socialize with or whatever, those should be your first resources.

Brandon: Absolutely.

Peter: Then we’ve got to tell them where we are in the process and be open.

Brandon: I think people are embarrassed about being open about it.

Peter: Absolutely.

Brandon: Like hey, I’m struggling right now to find something.

Peter: This process is 90% emotional. This process, not event – this is a process – is about how you’re feeling about yourself, how you’re feeling about your world and how you’re feeling about the people in your world. And because we let the process run us, we don’t feel good about any of those things.

Brandon: Exactly.

Peter: And then we get isolated. Then we get depressed.

Brandon: Well, you beautifully said that social media is a tool. I totally agree with that. If people are hiding behind their computers and just using that as their only way of sending out resumes and are wondering why they’re not finding anything, it’s because they’re not seeing it as a tool, an intermediary between you and another person or an employer. If you want to go network, connect with the people you know, your friends, family, old colleagues, whomever, people that you know on social media, sure. But it’s a communication tool, right? It’s, hey, because I know you’re on here, let’s go grab coffee next week.

Peter: But it’s somebody you know.

Brandon: Somebody you know, yeah.

Peter: I think it’s very challenging to establish and utilize relationships on the internet. I think we can use the internet and social media to utilize, maintain and enhance established relationships.

Brandon: Sure.

Peter: But to create new ones, it’s pretty challenging, because we don’t stand out. There are zillions of people out there.

Brandon: Back to your point about your radio show, you built an audience around that and then you had a career fair right after that. So you cultivated relationships organically through that radio show and then you got people to come to your career fair. Whether you had relationships directly with people or not, you created those ties. I’m doing the same thing with this podcast here. People listen, they sort of know me. But they can reach out to me anytime and make a connection with me, a personal connection. I think that’s how you organically cultivate relationships through social media, using it as a tool.

Peter: Yeah, referrals. Like on LinkedIn, I get requests to connect on LinkedIn all the time.

Brandon: People just blast them out.

Peter: Why should I want to do that?

Brandon: There’s no context to it, it’s really frustrating.

Peter: So again, we tend to build up these walls and then I think that, as we mentioned a minute ago, our resumes from a process standpoint, from an organic process standpoint, I think that when we use resumes too early in the process it tends to work against us because we’re on the internet. If we’re kind of here in the beginning of the process, I think we can maybe do a resume or a document or an image board or word board or whatever to start owning what it is that we want to be taking forward. That’s fine to be working that here because we don’t know where the next better, fantastic job is. It’s out here in the universe some place.

If we don’t have that kind of information or focus or clarity to be sending resumes out down here, it’s generally going to keep us down here. But if we’re in the process and we’re talking to somebody, a company, an organization and they say, Yeah, we think that, Brandon, you make a really great employee here and I would like you to take the next step. So can you give me your resume? That’s very different, because now I know the person who’s asking for my resume. That’s absolutely key from the resume process because now I know that person, I know what they want it for. Now I can ask him or her, What specifically do you want to see on my resume? What skills? What knowledge? What experience?

I’m creating a sales brochure. I’ve got to know my audience! What sort of layout? What sort of format works best for you? You want samples of my work? You want letters of reference? How would you like me to deliver this to you? See now I’m in the “I know” rather than the “I wonder”.

From a resume standpoint, if you don’t have this type of information, it’s a crapshoot. It’s an absolute crapshoot. So that’s very different than just looking at the window of the world on the internet versus the window on the world with the I know because I know the person.

Brandon: That’s interesting, because one of my questions I was going to ask you later on was about your tips for resumes.

Peter: Yeah.

Brandon: I’ve seen a thousand different formats. But you just said something that was enlightening. It’s know your audience. Know what they’re looking for and then that’s how you build your resume.

Peter: Absolutely! If you don’t know the person who wants it, it’s a crapshoot.

Brandon: It is.

Peter: Talk to salespeople. I’ve worked with a lot of salespeople over the years and even they forget. They will be referred to me and the first thing they will talk about, Well, I got to do a resume. I said, Why?

Brandon: I’m just going to pump this thing out.

Peter: Yeah, pump this baby out! Well, wait a minute. You’ve been selling this – if you’ve been sending out just brochures to potential clients, what sort of response would you receive? Oh, nothing.

Brandon: No doubt.

Peter: What’s the difference? If you want to get your product in Footlocker or Dick’s or whatever, what would be the process that you would use? You just blatantly send them out – no! What would you do? I would go in and start meeting people. Unless you know your audience, then it’s a crapshoot, if you don’t know what they’re looking for, what they want to see from a resume or proposal or whatever.

Brandon: You’ve really got to think like a marketer.

Peter: Absolutely. Who are you marketing?

Brandon: You’re marketing yourself.

Peter: You’re marketing yourself. But you’ve got to know what the buyer is looking for.

Brandon: Yeah, exactly.

Peter: If we don’t know the people, if we don’t know both the analytics of it and the emotions of what they’re looking for, then it’s a crapshoot. I mean I’m blessed that probably 95 percent of my business comes by referrals. Even though I have a website, pretty static, and I have a LinkedIn page, pretty static. I don’t have a Twitter. I don’t have Facebook and I’m blessed that it comes by referrals. But when people call me and say, Peter, we need you, sort of the magic words that we all like to hear, we all want to be wanted, what I have to be careful of is jumping on that and telling them all these things I can do without knowing really what they want.

Brandon: What they need, yeah.

Peter: So when they call or email and tell me, This is what we need, or We need you, I say, Let’s talk. I need to listen. That’s key. We need to listen to hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. So then I can respond with focus and clarity to them, not just me. Part of the problem with us is that we give them way too much information because everything in me is important. Well, it may be important to me, but it’s not important to her.

So I need to listen to her or him and respond directly to what they want, what they’re saying and to build a relationship, build a conversation and build focus and clarity around that. I think we don’t understand that, particularly from a job seeker’s standpoint.

Brandon: I want to get your opinion on the overall job market as you see it. I mean you’re talking to a ton of people, a ton of employers, a ton of job seekers. What’s the landscape right now?

Peter: I think it’s very good compared to where it was six years ago. It’s good. I still think employers are hiring more carefully today.

Brandon: More of that hidden job market thing going on.

Peter: Yeah. I think the process takes longer.

Brandon: Oh, that’s interesting.

Peter: Even though the market is hot. I think unemployment now is probably – you can’t rely on the statistics.

Brandon: Of course not, yeah.

Peter: But I think that people want to work their jobs out there. From a percentage standpoint, most of them are given and created for people who know and like one another. That’s the hidden job market. It’s all through referral. It’s how to manage the process. But I think there are more real jobs on the internet than there have been. Again, if you know how to manage the process, you have focus and clarity and have a game plan, you have a good plan of action, you will find work. The market is good.

Brandon: In the last couple of years and maybe even longer than that, I’ve been hearing buzzwords like talent crunch, talent shortage. It’s an employee market right now. Is that still true today?

Peter: I think part of that problem that you hear about is probably the transference of information because I think a lot of that is resulting from the social media, the internet.

Brandon: Absolutely.

Peter: It’s hard for us to transfer information from one to another when it’s impersonal. If you’re focused, you have clarity about the industry that you would like to research and investigate and best case work in, there are opportunities there.

Most of the things that you and I do for fun, there are people in your community that are doing that and getting paid for it. Why not you?

Brandon: What are really good next steps for somebody who is job seeking?

Peter: You got to create a foundation of knowledge. Do a vision board. Do a color board. Do something that helps you to start identifying the difference between what you can do and what you want to do. If you’ve been in an industry for a long time, if you’ve held certain job titles for a long time, I understand that it’s hard for individuals to think beyond those, because we have all this momentum going.

If that’s where you want to stay, then that’s fine. But if people want to make changes – and a lot of people want to make changes – then you have to look at yourself differently. You have to start owning how unique and how special you are. That doesn’t mean you’re better or worse than. It’s owning who you are. I have an interest in flying, aviation, and airplanes. I have an interest in travel. I have an interest in boats. Most people have those things. I talk to my clients and say, What about working in those areas you’re interested in? Oh, I can’t. If I did that, it wouldn’t be fun anymore – the people that we look who are successful, by whatever definition you put the word “success” in, are probably enjoying what they’re doing.

We all know people who are doing things they can do and aren’t sure they’re reaching their potential. So I think it’s really critical to understand there’s a difference between what I can do and what I want to do. If I’m doing things that put a smile on my face, then I’m probably going to be more successful at it, by whatever definition you put it.

Look at Warren Buffett. He’s 89 and I don’t know him personally. But when I see him in the media, he always seems to have a lot of energy and he smiles a lot. Well, if I was a gazillionaire, I would smile too! But I think he’s a gazillionaire because he’s been smiling along the way. Here’s the Oracle of Omaha. Who said a guy in Omaha, Nebraska 89 years ago would be a zillionaire? Because that’s not where the financial market is, is it? It seemed impossible.

Brandon: He knew what he wanted.

Peter: But he knew what he wanted. He went after it. But he’s enjoying what he does. You look at other people, whatever their area of interest, who are really good at it today, are good at it today – they generally come out on stage or wherever they are with a smile. What would you like to do if you could do anything at all without fear of failure?

Brandon: That’s a good question to pose. I think people need to consider that question.

Peter: So I think in terms of finding jobs, whether it’s finding a job in the same area of interest or whatever, there are all sorts of companies within area of interest or organization or to take a fresh look at a whole new future. I think we have a lot of options if we own who we are first.

Brandon: Well said, Peter. Well, I appreciate you joining the podcast. Where can people find you, learn about you? You’re an author of a book. Maybe you want to promote that a little bit too?

Peter: Well, the book is Want a New Better Fantastic Job? It’s available on Amazon. My website is We’re located in Portland, Oregon.

Brandon: Awesome. Peter Paskill, thank you so much for joining the podcast. I appreciate it.

Peter: Thanks for the opportunity.

Brandon: Yeah, you bet!

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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