Today, we have Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter's Chief Economist to talk about the current state of the job market and how you can stand out amongst the other job seekers.
Julia Pollak is the Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace that uses AI-driven smart matching technology to connect millions of businesses and job seekers.
She uses data from the ZipRecruiter marketplace to measure the health of the labor market, identify hiring trends, and help employers and job seekers prepare for the future of work. Her research is frequently cited in leading national outlets, like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR. She is also a contributor to Barron’s and a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council.
Prior to working at ZipRecruiter, Julia was an Assistant Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct economics instructor at Pepperdine University.
Julia holds a B.A. in economics from Harvard and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from Pardee RAND Graduate School. She was a drilling reservist in the U.S. Navy from 2011 to 2022.
In this episode, we talk about:
- The current state of the job market and why it's never been better for job seekers
- How you can stand out against other job seekers
- Why finding a job is more similar to the marriage market
- Why you don't need to meet the job qualifications 100% to get hired
Julia also talks about how having a mentor can greatly affect your career and life. She also talks about how you can find one!
Enjoy the episode!
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Ryan: Aloha everybody and welcome back to Degree Free. I am super excited to have Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter here, Julia Pollak.
Julia, thank you so much for making this happen and making the time.
Julia: Well, thank you so much. It's really great to be on your show. I love your show.
Ryan: Thank you. And We were kind of talking about this before we hit record, but the way that I see my job is to kind of teach people out there what different jobs there are, what different people do for a living.
And so I'd love to kinda just start there when I hear of Chief Economist as somebody that has an economics degree, like I have no idea, and we've talked about this offline a bunch of times. I have no idea what that means and my eyes kind of glaze over and so I think I would love to start there. Does a chief economist, what does a labor economist do?
Julia: Yeah, so I think historically people with economics degrees typically went into academia and taught economics at universities, and increasingly businesses are hiring economists. And so there is this growing community of business economists. Business economists can do a range of different things. In my role, I measure the health of the economy, looking at ZipRecruiter marketplace data.
I run surveys. I try to figure out what are the problems, the pain points that our users or job seekers and employers are struggling with, and how best we can help solve them. And I also communicate those insights to the. So part of my role is being a spokesperson for the company and I communicate those insights directly to job seekers and to employers as well.
Ryan: And I am really excited to have you on because exactly what you said, the ZipRecruit marketplace data, you guys at ZipRecruiter have a treasure trove of data available for everybody. I wouldn't mind kind of backtracking a little bit and talking just a little bit about ZipRecruiter and what ZipRecruiter does, because for a lot of people here, the sentiment is that it's kind of a place where the employer goes to post jobs and that gets aggregated out.
To a bunch of different job boards, but that's not a place where job seekers go, and that's just a sentiment of people that listen to this show. So if you guys, if you wouldn't mind kind of just talking up a little bit about ZipRecruiter does and what you guys are working on currently.
Julia: Sure. I mean, so ZipRecruiter is an online marketplace that actively connects employers and job seekers, and it's very much the place that job seekers should go if they want to find a job quickly and they want a little bit of guidance along the way. So we help job seekers find jobs quickly by, allowing them to create a profile. They don't even need to upload a resume.
And then connecting them with jobs that match their skills and interests as soon as those jobs are posted through email alerts and a range of other Products.
Ryan: Awesome. Fantastic. I kind of want to go into the data that you see and right before we hit record, you said, today is jobs day, and I had no idea what that meant.
I literally thought that you guys were having like a jobs fair day, but, oh, you're interviewing bunch people. Right on. Awesome. So that's not what it is. Apparently, the labor numbers came out today, so very timely recording and I wouldn't mind. Just kind of picking your brain since I have you here, and talk about the state of the labor market and what the outlook in the near future is like.
It's kind of a broad question, so I'll kind of give a little bit of context. One of the things that we keep when we turn on CNBC, MSNBC, any of the business news, you kind of always hear these. Pundits and these people talking about how the labor market has never been better or it's a very good time to be a job seeker.
And one, what does that mean? And then two, for people listening to this podcast, a lot of people have exactly the opposite experience. They've been trying for months, weeks applying and applying, applying to jobs. And I guess I just wanted to see within that context, like what do you see out
Sure. So delayed market is a really complicated, tricky market.
It is not like the market for pizzas or shoes where you choose something and you get it right away. The labor market is a matching market. It's a two-sided market where you need to be, you need to choose something and you need simultaneously to be chosen by that thing at the same time. And that's what makes it so tricky that sort of your once and employers once need to kind of.
At exactly the right time for everything to work out. It's a bit like the marriage market, right? There are lots of single men and women and, there are lots of people struggling to find a match, and so it, it has some similarities. That said, broadly speaking, if you look at the aggregate numbers right now, This is the best time to be a job seeker because job growth is still so high.
It is about 60% higher than it was on average before the pandemic. And because those jobs are being created across the economy, across a wide set of industries, Than is, than was normal before the pandemic. Those jobs are also more attractive in many different ways. So we look at terms and job postings to see how employers are changing their jobs and what kind of offers they're giving people.
And we also survey job seekers. We have a big survey about people who were just hired in the last six months and among people hired in the past six months. About 27% got signing bonuses. That's up from 22% in the last, survey six months ago. It's also up from a sort of historical average of 4%, right?
Typically, not very many people got signing bonuses. They were reserved for top talent for the kinds of people you were poaching, executives. They weren't given to everyone, but now they're actually pretty ubiquitous in tracking grocery stores and at UPS all over the place for holiday workers, right?
Holiday jobs are offering signing bonuses of one to $3,000 for a one to two month job at the moment. So they're very very widespread. There's been a big race, especially since the pandemic among companies to offer greater schedule flexibility. More tuition assistance, more generous benefits, all kinds of new perks and apps like earned wage access or on demand pay as it's known, that allows you to get paid right away, not have to wait for payday.
So jobs have become a lot more flexible and attractive to workers over the past two years. And we haven't yet seen that start to cool down meaningfully yet. And that's a big juxtaposition with the headlines that you see today, which are all about tech layoffs, right? So there is a kind of a slice of the economy where the hiring picture has changed substantially since the Fed started raising interest rates.
Those areas are housing, real estate, mortgage lending. We're also seeing, a slowdown kind of, more broadly in the financial sector because this is not a great year for companies to go public and IPO. There's not a lot of deal making going on, so the banks are laying people off as well.
So on Wall Street right now and in Silicon Valley, things have cooled down a lot on Main Street and restaurants, hotels, trucking companies, et cetera, et cetera. There is still enormous demand for workers and job seekers, because they're pretty scarce right now by historical standards are in the driver's seat.
Ryan: You said a bunch of things there that I kind of want to just double click on. My first question would be, you talked about the job markets that were cooling, tech, real estate, and then you kind of talked about the places that have the most or have a lot of growth. What is the sector that has the most growth?
Julia: Well, it changes from month to month. In recent months, leisure and hospitality has been adding jobs very rapidly. Professional and business services, healthcare. Healthcare's one area where we've seen steady, steady strength in online job postings. Manufacturing is doing surprisingly well right now because it's so capital intensive.
It is quite sensitive to interest rates and borrowing costs, but it's still doing remarkably well. So most of the economy right now, the vast majority of industries are contributing gains, not losses. And where there are job losses, they are relatively small and they're kind of concentrated in white collar roles, which is unusual for a recession.
Usually recessions hit blue collar fields, construction, manufacturing, those kinds of things. Hardest retail. That's not. Not the world we're in today.
Ryan: You said something that was kind of interesting and congruent with like my own experience or what I've seen from talking to people with the signing bonuses.
Right? Like that's crazy. That blew my mind. 27% of people are getting signing bonuses and I was like, yeah, that makes sense cuz that seems it's just like an everyday thing now. And then you said it used to be 4%. What do you think? Is the reason for this such massive increase in signing bonuses, and then are those increases in signing bonuses?
Is that structured? Is that like, you know, Kroger or Safeway has a $1000 to $3,000 signing bonus, or is that something that people are negotiating?
Julia: No, many of those are offered right there in the job posting to any candidate who applies and that is new. That was not always the case. It does seem though. As though in recent months, mentions of signing bonuses have gone down in job postings, but candidates are still getting them.
So it looks as though people are increasingly negotiating for them as well.
Ryan: Yeah. Awesome. And that's, I remember my first ever job negotiation and it went terrible. I mean, it just went terrible . And, it wasn't my first job. It was just my first like time that like, okay, so what, so I'll just tell you the story.
I went, I graduated college and then I got a job as supervisor at a small regional bank, or, and then while I was applying, I still had the interviews coming in. And so I interviewed for another one, for another bank. And I was like, well, I'm making this much money. I'll just say how much I was making. I was making like $28,000 at my first job.
And so, I was going to this other bank and about to negotiate with them, and I was like, okay, well I'm making 28 here, so I'm just gonna shoot for the moon and I'm gonna like, I'm just gonna ask for the world. So I go into the, so I go into the room and I was sitting across from this person, and I'm just like, yeah.
You know, with the, with the market the way that it is and my experience and my degree, you know, I would really, I think, I would really like $37,000 a year. And they literally, like, she literally laughed at me. It was, she it was like, it wasn't, and it wasn't like a " Oh, that's cute." It was like a belly laugh, like, that's so funny.
And what never even occurred to me at that time to even ask for bonuses, right? So the, the pretend to end the story, I ended up getting paid like 31,000 and it was a little bit more, so I took it. But yeah, I probably could have negotiated for a bonus, which seems more and more commonplace, as you said.
Julia: I don't know if you could've, cuz I don't think it was that common.
Let me tell you about my job negotiation stories. My first few forays into negotiating offers weren't so successful either. The first job I took out of college, it was 2009, it was the great recession. I had graduated from Harvard with an economics degree. And when I started that degree, the graduating students then who became our mentors and who had already accepted jobs, this is back in 2005.
Told us that they'd all accepted jobs sort of on Wall Street or at McKinsey, or you. Those kinds of firms, and they were all getting paid about 60,000 a year in their base pay and 60,000 a year in bonuses at the time. So I expected that right out of college I was gonna make 120,000 a year. Right? Then of course, 2008, 2009 happened.
And all the financial sector companies that had given me offers had to rescind those offers when they accepted TARP funding because one of the conditions was that they couldn't provide H-1B visas anymore to foreigners. I'm South African immigrant and so I had to look elsewhere and I started looking at think tanks and academic institutions and I was my first job offer.
As a research assistant making $32,000 a year. So it was a massive sort of decline in what I had expected to make. And I tried to negotiate cuz I just couldn't quite accept that, my expectations, had been dashed so terribly. So I asked for at least 40 and they also looked at me like I was crazy.
But eventually, sort of, kind of gave in and, and we, we hit on 36 . So that was my first effort. After that, I joined the US Navy and, talked to a recruiter cuz I wasn't yet a US citizen. I had to go enlisted. I couldn't become an officer, and I said, look, I'm in economics and I did all this work on foreign policy and I have foreign language experience.
I'd love to go into intelligence and they said, Hey, do you like aviation or do you like being on a ship? I said, no, I love aviation. Air travel flights, very very exciting to me. Okay, great. The perfect job for you is as an aviation structural mechanic. I have no idea what that was, but basically that's, there aren't many Harvard graduates doing that job.
That is a dirty job turning wrenches on aircraft. So I became a helicopter mechanic in the US Navy for 11 years. A role that I actually end up loving it was a total change from my daily grind and I ended up abandoning my efforts to go the officer route later on when I did become a US citizen.
Cause I just had so much fun in that enlisted community turning wrenches.
Ryan: That is amazing. And since we started to go down that path with your story. One of the reasons why I was so excited to have you on is, we had a call before this where I kind of got to learn a little bit about your background and it is truly an amazing story and you kind of hinted where it ended, but for those listening.
I wouldn't mind if you kind of started at the beginning with you in South Africa and kind of just,
Ryan: Telling your story a little bit about, going to Harvard then afterwards.
So I was born and raised in South Africa, born to a great human rights activist and anti-apartheid activist there who sat on the board of two universities, the University of Cape Town and the University of Stella and Bosch, and nevertheless told me, Julia, I want you to leave.
We could already see back then in 2005 that sort of the way to get ahead in South Africa would be loyalty to the ruling party and corruption. And my mother wanted me to have no part of it. And she said, reach for the stars apply to Oxford and Harvard and whatnot. She was far more partial to the United States than to Europe.
She said, go to America where hard work can allow you to reach the stars and enable you to do anything. And so that's what I did. And I loved it so much that even though I think initially I thought I would go back to try to help out the new government back in South Africa. I ended up staying in the United States.
I felt I'd never experienced this, that amount of academic and intellectual freedom, physical safety, et cetera, et cetera. I just, I, it was just such a feast for the senses to be on an American campus. Graduated in 2009, great recession wasn't the finest part of my, Career but I took a role at a think tank where I learned a lot.
I wrote a lot, and I met very interesting people. I worked on national security policy issues, military manpower, defense policy. So I rubbed shoulders with a lot of senate staff and congressional staff and military leaders. I was very impressed by the military leaders I met with, and so I became interested in possibly serving this new country that I had adopted and about, which I was very very enthusiastic and still am.
So I walked into a recruiting station one day, and the rest is history. Once you go into a recruiting station, you never come out , they had me. They had me taking, a swearing an oath at a military processing center like the very next day. So that was it.
And are you, are you still a reservist
now? I was until March of this year, and I probably would've stayed longer, but I came to the end of my contract and rather than reenlisting, I made the sort of, Somewhat painful decision to leave because I had a new baby and my, I was looking after my mother, who was terminally ill with cancer at the time, and I couldn't, whereas before, with the two big kids and my husband at home, it was totally fine.
It was very easy to leave my husband, was a great sort of, he has a lot of t-shirts that say that a Navy wife, he was the great military spouse, and, and loved, looking after the kids and holding down the fort at home while I was away, it just became much harder when there were two more people who were so dependent on me and reliant on me.
So I regret leaving, but it was the right thing to do for the family.
Ryan: Amazing, amazing. Thank you for sharing.
What's so interesting about your background and your history is that you are, on the one hand you are the chief economist of ZipRecruiter. You're a labor economist and you're just doing all day looking at these numbers and trying to parse data.
And on the other hand, you're helicopter mechanic, right? And as you said, you're just turning wrenches. Right? And I had a conversation with, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with the CEO of ZipRecruiter, Ian, and we were talking about how the well rounded person, somebody that can do all of these things nowadays, is becoming less and less valued in the job market.
And what he says is, the job market wants pointy people. And so what? What, right? And so it's like somebody that just specifically knows Salesforce, like you're a Salesforce architect. Like you can, you can implement this thing really well. I don't really need you to know how to craft a story. I don't really need you to even open emails. Like, I need you to, I need you to do this thing for me.
And so, right. One of the things that, and I've struggled with this my own life, and I know a lot of people out there struggle with this as well. When making a career transition, you kind of think that you're pointing in one area and you want to go be a pointing in another area and you don't really know how to translate those skills that you learned here to skills that you learned there.
So I guess my question is like what have you learned from, being a helicopter mechanic and what has it, how has that transitioned into what you do now?
Julia: So, well, I missed out a big portion of the story in between, which is that, afterwards, I, I did my, graduate research at the Rand Corporation, a place where I could do defense and economics, and then I taught economics at Pepperdine University.
And then I kind of stumbled across this job at ZipRecruiter by accident on my drive back and forth to Pepperdine. I listened to podcasts and ZipRecruiter advertises on Podcast and so one night when I was up really late till, you know, past 1:00 AM, grading students assignments and working on my dissertation and just, I mean, it was such a chore and I felt so underpaid as sort of a junior faculty member and as a graduate student. I started to think like, you know what is the next step?
I can't do this for very much longer. You know, what comes next? And I just typed economist on ZipRecruiter and a job had just been posted. For an economist job at ZipRecruiter and, ZipRecruiter's office happened to be a block away from my apartment, and so it just was the biggest no brainer of a job I'd ever seen, like the absolute perfect match.
It was pretty much exactly the job that I had designed in my head as the ideal job for me, when I was ready for that transition. So I wasn't really looking for a job at the time, but at 1:00 AM you know, awkwardly scrolling my phone. I created as a recruiter profile, uploaded my resume, and then, thought, I'm not gonna apply now.
I want my application materials to be perfect. I want to write the perfect cover letter. I want to update my resume. I wanna do all these things, but it was a one click apply job. And so in my, sleepy state, I accidentally applied, I hit that one click fly button, and so the next day I got a call saying, are you interested in the job?
You know, design is important in a product. I think sometimes important to, facilitate connections between job seekers and employers, especially women have a way of delaying sometimes and wanting to meet absolutely every requirement and have the perfect application materials and they can delay themselves out of a job because in the job market speed really.
Going back to your question about skills, yes, the labor market is becoming increasingly specialized. Jobs are becoming more and more specialized and are increasingly requiring different skills from one another, and that makes it difficult to transition from one job to another often. I think what is important to develop is the ability to learn quickly.
And so when you find a new job that you like and that offers various characteristics that make sense for you, the ability to pick up the new set of skills in that job quickly, to, you know, do so in a very efficient manner, to find the right courses online that can give you the skill in 12 hours rather than 12 weeks.
That is a skill, right? Research is a skill. So I think the skill that I got trained in school, Was research and that skill has also helped me navigate the labor market. Cause I can find the right pieces of information that I need to make a decision and that, give me leverage and negotiations and that to give me access to new skills and sort of allow me to make the best decisions.
Ryan: Couple of things there that you mentioned when you were talking about the one click apply and how, the design of the product really matters. You were saying speed really matters when applying to jobs and especially women, but I think people in general really. Worry about meeting The job qualifications, like when they see a job description? They're just like, well, that's not me. They want me to be like advanced at Microsoft Excel. Like I'm only a beginner. Right. And there's like these vague things and they just want, they think that it's a requirement because it says requirement there.
And one of the reasons your company's so valuable is because you have all the data of who's applying
Julia: to what actually happens.
Ryan: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly, exactly.
And it's something that I've known intuitively, but I don't have any data to back it up. You know what I mean? I'm just like, I'm just yelling at people on TikTok and on this podcast, be like, no, that's not who they're actually hiring.
Julia: Just do it.
Ryan: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Julia: Just go for it.
Ryan: Exactly. Apply anyway. But I kind of want to talk a little bit about like what do you see in the data? If you can share anything about what companies are actually putting out there as far as job qualifications and if there's like a certain percentage of people that are actually meeting those things?
Julia: Sure. So the number one concern of employers is the lack of availability of qualified candidates. Right now, when we do studies to figure out which parts of the labor market are oversupplied and which are undersupplied, the broad conclusion is that almost every occupation and location is undersupplied right now.
And so you have a good chance getting a fair hearing if you have 50, 60, 70% of the requirements and if you show an eagerness to learn and the willingness to pick up new things and listen, instead of a humility, right? The ability to take instructions and take feedback and grow and learn.
Ryan: Absolutely. And that's pretty much something that we try to preach here.
I don't wanna say preach. Well, I'll say preach whatever, we preach that here. We had a very talented young man, come on, He's a product manager at Meta, and he said something to me that kind of totally blew my mind, which like, it' s not what, you know, it's basic like how you learn that matters.
Julia: It's how you learn.
And in most jobs, the skills that you need every day, were not taught to you in school. Right. I did not get the statistical skills that I used in my work at college. I didn't learn the software programs I used at college. Most of them I learned from YouTube and Reddit and Twitter threads and you know, from the sort of community of peers online working through these problems together there are.
I have bookshelves of help files on statistical software tools, and now of course, you don't even need the books. You just Google the question and you can find the answer. That is such an important thing to know that skills are at your fingertips, that you can pick up really really valuable skills by watching a couple of YouTube videos.
Ryan: Absolutely. The skills being at your fingertips, like information's just never been more accessible ever.
Julia: absolutely right.
Ryan: Yeah. You can learn how to code for free on YouTube as long as you, put the time and time and effort in and people, we know of, people personally that have reached out to us, they're like, yeah, I mean, I just did it for a year.
You know, I was flipping burgers or whatever, and I built a portfolio. They didn't even have like a resume. They built a portfolio of work and then they just sent that out to people, or it was just on their LinkedIn and the recruiters reach out and now they have, Completely different trajectory of their careers.
And it just takes that, being willing,
Julia: It requires discipline. I mean, it can, it's not easy to pick up new skills. I think in South Africa, the government thought that we could just redistribute education and give education. That's not how it works. People also need to burn education or education is work.
But if you're prepared to put the hours in, to practice an instrument or watch the videos and do the exercises or whatever it is, you can often gain a huge boost to your income, a huge improvement in your policy of life.
Ryan: Absolutely. One of the things that I kind of wanted to talk about if I was listening to this podcast, I would hear your story and I'd be like, oh, she has her masters.
She went to Harvard, like she was always gonna be successful, right? Like it was always gonna, it was always gonna happen like that. Like you went and you rubbed shoulders with all these big wigs and you were always around it. Like it was always gonna happen even though you're before that, being from South Africa, you know, you came from adversity and you overcame it. I would just dismiss that and I know, I think a lot of people would as well. I kind of wanted to just ask like, has there, what points in your life have you had failures or have self doubt? Cause one of the things, and I'll just speak from my own personal experience, like when I'm applying to a job, There's so much self-doubt.
I'll look at it. Even I know, I know that I only need to fit 20 to 30 to 50% of this thing and then I'll hit apply and then, catch me in the interview if you don't like me. Right? Like, but I still have that creeping down and sometimes to this day, like I won't send that email. Like I'll just be like, or I won't send that dm.
Like, I'll do it a little bit different now, but you know, like, so I kind of wanted to ask like a time where you failed or, and there's some adversity
Julia: Oh man. I was just, I was just sort of taking stock on the past year and looking at how many of the projects I planned to complete this past year did not end up getting completed and trying to figure out, whether it's my leadership skills that are lacking or whether there are obstacles in the company, what is going on, or I'm focusing on the wrong things.
So failure is something I have dealt with often and, you know, you kinda have to go in like, like the military and do an after action. What went wrong? Why, let's try this. Okay, that doesn't work. Let's try this new path. I think the, the failure I'm, most personally upset about is that, I did a PhD program but ended up graduating sort of ABD all but dissertation, not having, defended my dissertation.
I'm working on it though. I'm going to, I'm gonna wrap that up. There's no way that I'm not going to get that final terminal achievement. ] although, you know, there were all kinds of just data problems with the, the project that I tried to work on and I think it took me too long to recognize that the failures, the flaws were actually sort of, kind of terminal and to pivot and to shift path and to do something new, which is what I'm doing now.
But at the time, I just spent way too many useless hours trying to, trying to fix a burnt cake. You know what I mean? Sometimes you gotta cut your loss. Some cost don't matter and do something new. And I think that's the most important lesson I've learned. Stop trying to do things that aren't working and wasting effort.
Change, change course with
The after action reports that you were talking about, like kind of similar. So my background is firefighting amongst the many other jobs that I've done and we're a paramilitary organization and so, same thing, right? Like after you run into a burning building, it varies from department, department, from station to station.
But the way that we handled it, at our station was after we, after the fire went out, within the next hour or so, we'd all go, decon, decontaminate, and then we would sit around a circle and we would just say like, Hey, what did you do? What could you have done better? How could we have affected positive change on this situation better?
Ryan: And right, that's something that I've taken into , my life and, you know, I do this with Hannah, my wife, and we do this for even personal things. I kind of wanted to ask like for what your after action reports look like, from a, on a personal and professional level.
Julia: Sure. So one, it's really important to write down your goals in the beginning, and then when you review them a year later, it's often quite surprising.
Wow, did I really plan to do all of these things? You know, what, were these even realistic? Were these goals? Appropriate. So sometimes you need to not get so upset about failing to meet the goals 'cause you learn something over the course of a year and perhaps the goals were wrong. And then in cases where the goals were valuable and you didn't reach them, it's important to try to figure out why Is it something that you are doing wrong?
Is it something in the environment that's going wrong? It can help to have a good positive, practical, sensible mentor with whom to go through those possibilities and a sounding board. It's not helpful to seek advice from negative people who spin things in ways that are damaging to your mental health and that cause you to do the wrong things in response.
So I've seen this in several of my friends. They have this friend they turn to who spins things in the worst possible light and who always say the solution to a bad situation is kind of to leave, get out, or burn bridges or be angry or take it personally. Avoid those kinds of people because typically it's not at all personal and there can, I think there are usually solutions where everybody wins, especially in the job market.
Layoffs, firings, all those kinds of unpleasant things. Finding yourself in a dead end job. Those are all parts of life, right? They're all going to happen at some point. More than 2 million people get laid off or fired every month, often through nothing that they did, right? More than 20 million people laid off at the start of the pandemic just because their establishments closed.
The restaurant closed. The gym closed. If you were the best performer on the planet, if you were bringing in loads of money, it didn't matter. Done. Finished. I think the problem is we still think of a job sometimes like a marriage, and so when it falls apart, I mean, we feel devastated, like we've failed personally, like it's a divorce.
I mean, I think people get into a real sort of depression spiral when they, get laid off or something goes wrong at work. I think our work success is very closely tied to our sense of self worth and our mental health, and perhaps it shouldn't be, because the average American holds something like 14 jobs of the course of their lifetime, you don't really have that much obligation to your employer.
You can give notice and leave right away. And if the business, needs change or if revenue stops coming in, they may have to let you go. They've got no real obligation to you either and I think if you think about a job that way and you don't take it so personally when things go wrong, you can pick yourself up really easily again.
And think of yourself as moving from one job to another, from one stage to another, not as having kind of lost everything or failed.
Ryan: I think that's a really important thing to kind of touch on because it's so difficult and we all understand why. I mean, we spend so much time at our jobs, right? A lot of people, 40 hours a week, pretty much the majority of your waking hours are either at your job or traveling to your job.
Or thinking about your job. And so it's difficult to not have those things kind of combine and intertwine in some way where you know you have, you let your job define you. One of the things that I see a lot is, especially in certain careers, that gets really, it runs deep. And so one of those things is the military, right?
Like the military, you see a lot of people like, oh, I was in the navy. I was in the army, and that's like how they'll introduce themselves, right? And I'll speak for myself, that like deciding to not be a fireman was literally the hardest decision of my life and I think about it every day and because it's so ingrained in who I was at the time and who I am today.
Julia: And well, there, your job really does kind of become a family, right? I mean, in the military, in a firehouse, I think there's a kind of collegiality that you just don't get elsewhere. It is hard to give that up. It's hard to walk away. And it is personal, not just professional. That hurts more, I think, than most job departures and separations.
Ryan: will, I will definitely have to. I I'll definitely have to agree with you there. Right. Especially, and I'll speak for, being a fireman, like, you know, I live with those guys. Yeah. Career firemen so I spent 24 hours with them. I knew not to tmi, but you know, I knew when Greg was gonna go, take his morning dump, you know what I mean?
Like, oh no, the second stall, that's Greg. You know what I mean? like, and so yeah, but the, but I think the main thread of it is still, is still true, where, you know, you have to find some sort of meaning or value outside of it, and that can kind of, that'll give you the leverage to put your family and your other priorities first.
If you know, like as you were saying, basically I'll summarize in my own words, but like, the company doesn't care about you, right? Like, if the company's doing bad, They're gonna have to, they're gonna have to lay you off or lay somebody off and, just so that they can survive.
Julia: People inside the company care about you.
Right. But when it come, when push comes to shove, even family businesses that have continued and hung on to workers years too long, hemorrhaging money every year running up massive losses, like eventually, sometimes they just have to do what? Absolutely makes business sense. So I do think it's very painful for CEOs when they have to lay workers off and for managers to make those calls.
It's not like businesses don't care. Businesses are made up of people who can care very very deeply but yes, at the end of the day, these decisions are typically made due to nothing that to do with personal considerations at all.
And you could be doing a gangbusters job at what you're doing. Right. But they know, they've gotta make cuts and otherwise Right. They wouldn't survive. One of the things that, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not making this up. Somebody on the internet can fact check me, or you can fact check me right here was that one of the things that made me really respect Ian? I'm not sure if I think I saw it in an interview that he did was, when he had to do layoffs for ZipRecruiter, he said that he did, the layoffs personally, if I'm remembering it, I think it was for all of all of it, when it was a 10% or so cut of ZipRecruiter, and he didn't leave that up to the managers. I mean, if you can corroborate that, awesome. But if not, I'll try to post a link for people in the show notes of that interview.
Julia: Yes. I mean, that was very, you know, at the start of the pandemic, I think many businesses felt like a nuclear bomb had gone off inside their businesses.
Revenue was falling quickly. There was a hiring freeze in almost every industry that doesn't ever have hiring freezes, right. Universities, police nations like everyone and their mother was pausing, hiring, and we didn't know how long it would go on.
Fortunately, the business conditions recovered far more quickly than anyone would have expected, and the economy sort of surged back and hiring went gangbusters and so we recalled many of those workers and grew, and our headcount is higher than it was before the pandemic now. But yes, that was a, that was definitely a painful moment and, I think, you know, doing layoffs with compassion and providing, health insurance benefits for several months and, some kind of severance and things like that where possible, is great and works well and preserves relationships with those employees. If later things, you know, turn around and you have the opportunity to bring them back.
Ryan: Awesome. Yeah. And that like, as somebody that has this very very tiny team, I really respect that. You know, like I really respected that, like you do feel some sort of stewardship over, these people are trusting me to, steer this ship and get 'em to where they need to. And I can't imagine, I've never had to downsize yet. But, I couldn't imagine, having to do that and it would be a painful thing. So I think you're exactly right you hit the nail in the head when you said people within the company care about you, but like what I meant as the company, like, you know.
One of the things that you were saying there that you said was important was finding a positive mentor and I couldn't agree more. Do you have a mentor or do you, did you have mentors and follow up to that is, how did you find them and how can other people find mentors?
Julia: Right. So, my spouse is, I think my best mentor. The biggest mistakes that I've made in relationships and work, you know, and or hasty emails, were, because I didn't consult with him first. So I know now , if I'm ever feeling upset about something, have a conversation with him and he'll cool me down.
And put everything in perspective, and life will be much better. At work, I also have several mentors have, my manager will always give me sort of a different perspective. He sees the world in a different way from the way I do, and often makes me sort of pause and scratch my head and think Ian is a fantastic mentor.
He's very practical. Right. Just, and he just tells it like it is. He's extremely forthright and frank, and that's very useful to have in a mentor. There's no sort of beating around the bush. He'll just tell it like it is. And, his feedback almost always, no. Absolutely i, absolutely, every piece of feedback I've ever received from him has made what I was working on better.
And a wonderful thing about social media is that you can find mentors in your field. And so there are a lot of other, business economists. We are very collegial. We meet once a month, to discuss the jobs numbers, and that community has also become a valuable source of mentorship.
And we now sort of direct message each other on, on Twitter and have discussed things from parenting our babies to, caring for family members with cancer. I mean, the mentorship I've received from that community has been enormously helpful.
Ryan: Amazing. just a couple of questions before we wrap up, Julia.
One of the things that, Amazes me about your job is that you basically have to be ready to do like what you're doing right now, like all the time, like public speaking and like meeting with people and then speaking in an intelligible way to break down really esoteric numbers and data of which many people's eyes would glaze over.
And for that, one of the biggest fears right, is public speaking amongst everybody. And, but it's also one of the biggest superpowers of that I've found. What are some tips that have made you such a professional at public speaking?
Julia: Ooh, I don't know. I recently received media training. I found someone friends that was amazing and she, and at tough and she really put me through my phases.
So that has helped a lot I see in my kids. I don't think they're gonna have a fear of public speaking. They're constantly recording themselves, making mock ads or, speeches or just fun videos for their friends. I think they, all wanna be influencers one day, and have YouTube channels.
So that may not be such a problem in the workforce. 10, 20 years from now.
Ryan: Yeah, definitely. There was an interesting, I can't find the actual numbers on this Lego survey, like the Lego company, but, I can only ever find the CNBC article referencing this Lego survey. But anyway, they're just talking about how astronauts, like, they surveyed a bunch of kids about what they want to do in their life.
And astronauts historically have like been the highest and that's like getting pushed by like YouTube Star and so I've, your kids are very much within that range. That's awesome.
Julia: Absolutely. But you know what the coolest job of all must be? Lego designer. I mean, what I love doing, so it's just browsing job postings.
There are incredible jobs out there that are so exciting and rich and had fantastic companies making, wonderful products and services. When I talk to people, I wish that I could sort of hand over what I see in the data. So there are so many rich insights in that data that I think could give people power and knowledge and comfort and a path forward when they're sort of lost in a job search.
One of the things that I discovered right away when I got to ZipRecruiter was how there were many jobs like receptionist and administrative assistant that routinely receive a hundred, 200 applications per posting. and other jobs that receive 4, 5, 6, 7 but there were these jobs that, are harder to get into than.
And so you have all these job seeks, I think, who just don't quite realize what a numbers game it is, how many applications they need to send out in order to get an opportunity, and who think after sending out 10 applications and being rejected from all of them, that they're failing but actually the odds are stacked against them.
And in order to get an opportunity, you need to be out there much more in applying to way more jobs, right? If you just knew that, if you just had the perspective of the labor market and knew what the numbers were. You could rationalize your own experience better. The most important thing, in any negotiation is to have the perspective of the other party.
If you know how urgently the company is trying to hire, or how many candidates they interviewed who were just a terrible fit or whatever it is, um, it can be so useful to have that information going in. My one other, wage negotiation story my story at ZipRecruiter, where the hiring manager asked me to throw out the first number and said, so what were you hoping for? And I said, I said, oh, I was kind of hoping for x an hour. Cause I started initially as a contractor and she said, oh, really? Well, we were planning to offer you two x. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. I guessed X all wrong. I think generally it's not a good idea to throw, it can be a good idea to throw out the first number, then you should aim high.
It can also be a good idea to let the other party that has more information, make the first move.
Ryan: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Julia: And then take your time. Let it sit.
Take your time and think about how you're gonna respond.
Ryan: Absolutely. I was grinning ear to ear when you were just speaking about that, because that's something that we try to do here is basically try to tell people, give them an idea of the numbers of applications of what you have to do like the legwork that takes, that it takes to get a job.
And we usually say it takes a hundred applications to get one interview that's wrong but it's just that to have that mindset of that, you and I think the numbers are closer.
Julia: Well that's what you tell kids when they're applying to colleges too, right? Or if they're applying to medical school.
Right. I think most people who apply to medical schools apply to 30, 40 medical schools 'cause it is so competitive. There are so few slots and so nobody takes it personally anymore if they're rejected from their top medical schools, right? I think just in the labor market, it's not that well known that some roles like flight attendant have enormous candidate interest and their employers have no trouble hiring.
And if you're applying, you might really have to cast a wide net.
Ryan: And the last thing that I wanted to say is like, when you were speaking there, one of the things that we find a problem is just people not knowing what jobs are out there. Right. And so it's something that I call like vocational creativity and basically like you need to have a target in order to have something to aim for.
So nobody knows, like what I was talking about earlier about the pointy people, I don't, nobody knows what a Salesforce architect is, right? Until, you know what it is, right? And the problem is like, right, you don't know what you don't know and there's a good exercise for those people listening. I did it in, one of her previous episodes.
You can look at vocational creativity. you can look it up there. But Julia, thank you so much for taking the time.
Julia: I think there are a couple of things in the ZipRecruiter product that help people with that experience of just not knowing what they don't know? Right. The most common search on our website is a blank search where people just hit search.
They don't type in a job title, because they don't know what job title they're looking for. And the great thing is when you create a profile, well then we will. Show you jobs, we will email you jobs that we think are a good fit and learn from the ones that you click on and the ones that you ignore. what is the best fit and give you better recommendations going forward.
The other thing we do is, invite you to opt in to being contacted by recruiters and so, If you are there available to be contacted in this kind of environment, there's a pretty good chance that someone will invite you to apply to their job, will look at your profile and say, Hey, you look like a great match.
And so, you know, sometimes if you don't know let the other side make the first move, but make yourself findable. Right? You need to be in that marketplace, in our resume database, and available to be found.
Absolutely. And Julia, if people wanted to learn more about you, follow you on social media, or where can I send people to learn more about you?
Julia: So I'm @Juliaonjobs on Twitter and, I am also on LinkedIn and I'm going to try to be more active there as well.
Ryan: Awesome. Once again, Julia Pollak from a ZIP Recruiter. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Julia: Thank you. Take care. Good talking to you.
Ryan: I hope you guys like that episode. Once again, you can follow Julia on Twitter @juliaonjobs and LinkedIn.
Julia Pollak that's Julia P O L L A K. And then the show notes to everything that we talked about can be found at degreefree.co/JuliaPollak and before we take off, if you guys enjoy this episode, please leave a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts. Also, if you know somebody else looking for jobs, consider sharing this episode with them.
You can follow me on LinkedIn, Ryan Maruyama, M A R U Y A M A, and you can also follow us on YouTube and on TikTok at degree free there and that's pretty much it. Until next time guys. Aloha.
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