Why Candidates Are in the Driver’s Seat and (How to Make the Most of It), with Sha Lee Hornsby

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 356:

Why Candidates Are in the Driver’s Seat and (How to Make the Most of It), with Sha Lee Hornsby

Airdate: July 13, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. 

Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

For the first time in decades, it’s a job seeker’s market. 

That means candidates have more choices and can expect to get better salaries and benefits.

But are you making the most of this opportunity? 

Sha Lee Hornsby is here to talk about why candidates are in the driver’s seat and how to make the most of it. 

She’s a staffing and HR expert with more than 20 years of experience. Sha also hosts the award-winning Cool Careers Podcast.

She joins us from Houston, Texas. 

Well, let’s get started, Sha. How long has it been since we’ve had a job seeker’s market like this?

Sha Lee Hornsby:

It’s been since the sixties, really. Right now, we have a perfect storm of scenarios that has allowed, I would say, employees or job seekers, to be in the driver’s seat and really take whatever avenues that they would like to take. It is really up to you. Whatever you’re trying to do at this particular time in your life, this is a perfect time to do so. 

Mac Prichard:

Sha, why were employers calling the shots for so long? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Well, there were more people than roles, so the employers had the choice. But now, there are more roles than people. There are more people willing not to return to the market because of the pandemic. So now, this is what we have. 

There’s a few scenarios that are creating this perfect storm. Right? So, one, it would be the pandemic. It has been the biggest impact of our current scenario. The BLS – which is the Bureau of Labor Statistics – they tell us that it was taking about five to six months for someone to land their perfect role, or a role, pre-pandemic, and now, candidates are engaging with employers within two weeks. The market is hot. 

There’s also very little loyalty now. Since the pandemic, there’s eighty-two percent of employers that feel that, you know – excuse me, employees – e,ighty-two percent of the employees felt the pandemic has allowed them to be less loyal because of furloughs and layoffs, and all the different choices, and really how the employers laid employees off. So there are examples of mass layoffs during or via town hall meetings and virtual conversations about their last days. So, that didn’t have a good taste in a lot of the job market, and for employees that have been loyal all this time. 

Mac Prichard:

What does recruitment look like to employers during this job seeker’s market? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

The market is really stressful. Honestly, because there’s so many roles, there’s such a need. Everyone that I speak with, because I’m a recruiter, and a lot of my friends are recruiters, so we are all speaking about the same things, and they are trying to find their hiring managers the best talent, and, of course, no matter how large or small your company is, you want the best talent. And so, that’s how it is. They’re taking their time and making a decision, and, of course, they are the driver.

So, I would say it’s difficult in the sense that the people that they want are not available. So, they’re having to be creative and strategic in how to choose the best person for their roles. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned that many workers aren’t feeling loyalty to employers anymore because of the events of the last few years. Has the pandemic also made self-employment more attractive to workers?  

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Yes, that’s a part of the storm as well. Right? So, entrepreneurship is a big driver in the pandemic, and we’re still in the pandemic phase of returning back to work. But basically, some people are not returning back to work. They’ve chosen entrepreneurship. There’s an attitude that employees feel, if they could make your organization great, they can make their own company great. So, they’re trading in their passion projects and transferring them into full-time roles. So, sales force numbers tell us there’s four million new businesses created just in 2020. 

Mac Prichard:

Many people were furloughed or laid off at the start of the pandemic. What difference does taking an involuntary break like that make in people’s thinking about their careers? What have you seen as a recruiter? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

There’s less concern about it. People have chosen liberty. They want to be free from being obligated to the roles and being obligated to an organization. So, this is what I mean about the driver’s seat. They own all the power. There’s no more, I would say, negative connotation or negative thoughts about the break. 

Everyone has different family scenarios. If you’ve chosen to go backpack, and you’re single with no kids, that is your thoughts, and we see this being expressed in our interviews. People have chosen that they’re not concerned about when they return, and when they do return to the market, they’re explaining just that. Right? 

And some of them are not – the new business venture that’s happening is increasing every year since 2020. The numbers that I stated to you about the 2020 new businesses to four million, that’s an increase of twenty-four percent from 2019, and just in the first half of 2020, half a million new businesses have started. 

So, some people have not chosen to return. Some people are not interested in what the market or the employers think about their break in the market. It’s a non-factor. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned at the start of our conversation that, in the end, it’s about supply. There are more jobs than workers. Take out your crystal ball, Sha. How long do you think this labor shortage might last, and what could cause it to come to an end? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Well, honestly, I don’t see a change any time soon. This could be a ten-year journey, and the reason why I say that is because we’re ushering in a new generation of workers, and they have a different mindset. So, there are less boomers leaving. There’s fifty thousand boomers leaving or exiting the workforce every day, and so, there is just a different mindset that’s being ushered. 

And as a parent, I speak to lots of parents, and they are pushing their kids that are gonna be coming in the next generation of workers to be entrepreneurs. So, it’s a really different mindset and movement. I don’t see it as a phase or a trend. I think we might be in just a new way of living and a way of working, of a deficit of people, in general. 

Mac Prichard:

Some groups – older workers, people of color, people with disabilities, for example – have always had disproportionately high unemployment rates, even during periods of prosperity. Has this changed during the current labor shortage? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

I’m glad you mentioned that because that does open up a space for employers to brag about diversity. Right? Making accommodations – they didn’t have to make those accommodations. They didn’t have to be more diverse with mothers and with people of color, and again, with the, I hate to say, disabled, but the differently-abled. Employers didn’t have to make those accommodations, but now they’re bragging about these types of hires. And why? Because they probably should have been doing them way before and bragging on them on the efforts of hiring more diverse candidates. So, it’s a win-win on both, the way I see it.

From a recruitment side, it makes their workforce more diverse, more open-minded, and also something for employers to really brag about and to tout about. When other employees or the job market sees that this is happening, it’s a trend, it makes them more motivated and more eager to apply. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is all terrific, Sha. We’re gonna take a break, and when we come back, you’ve got some tips about how candidates can make the most of this job seeker’s market, and I want to walk through them one by one. 

So stay with us; when we return, Sha Lee Hornsby will continue to share her advice on why candidates are in the driver’s seat and how to make the most of it. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Sha Lee Hornsby.

She’s a staffing and HR expert with more than 20 years of experience. Sha also hosts the award-winning Cool Careers Podcast.

She joins us from Houston, Texas. 

Now, Sha, before the break, we were talking about why candidates are in the driver’s seat and how to make the most of it, and you took us through the current labor market, and why it is the way it is, and how it’s helping candidates. 

Let’s talk about how candidates can make the most of this opportunity. So, one of the first steps I know you recommend is to choose a lane. What do you mean by this, Sha?  

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Well, like any journey, Mac, if you know where you’re going, you can map out the, you know, the shortest distance between two points. Right? It is basically you understanding where you want to go, doing the research, and doing what you need to do, so you can make sure that you choose the proper route.

So, when I say choose your lane, be decisive. Know what you want. When you’re speaking with recruiters, they want to know exactly what you’re looking for. Employers are moving quickly. So, if they find you, if they locate you, they push you through the process, it’s gonna happen fast. So, you need to make sure this is what you need, what you want, and what you want for your future. Right? So, you gotta do your research. 

Mac Prichard:

How specific do you recommend a candidate get? Are you talking about knowing exactly what kind of job you want and the companies where you want to work? What do you have in mind here? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Yes, I say both because there’s a lot of transitions happening, Mac. So, a lot of people, many of the job seekers are not interested in staying in their same industry. So, they are using their transferable skills, going somewhere else. So, those are the people I’m speaking with. 

Also, if you already know what you want to do, if you’re going back into the same market, it’s a lot easier for those people. So, they are already choosing their lane.

But those ones that are in transition, yes. Know what companies you’re interested in, get your top ten list. Make sure you find a great headhunter that can really make sure that you’re seen by those organizations. Make sure your best branding document, which is your resume, is up to par, up to speed. You can do it yourself. Believe in yourself. Don’t pay hundreds of dollars for others to create that for you. Only you know exactly what you do, what you do well, and how to explain it. 

So, I would say make a list, get a headhunter, get your resume together, and that is the first steps to finding where you want to be and choosing the right lane. 

Mac Prichard:

What advice would you have to a listener, Sha, who is struggling with defining what it is they want, where they want to go, and choosing that lane? How have you seen people overcome those challenges? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Well, it’s typically by doing something most people don’t want to do, which is, finding a mentor or getting some industry perspective. Asking for help is what we do least, and if we really understood how helpful people are willing to be, even strangers, when it comes to a role in finding your career or finding a space in your career, people are very helpful. 

You should reach out and use LinkedIn for people you know, and you don’t know, to help you get an industry perspective and understand what the competitors are, what the stock market looks like. Understand the role because that helps you understand if you’re going to be really successful. You have to make sure that the role you’re gonna choose is consistent and matches your lifestyle as far as pay, travel, work from home, all these sorts of things matter. Especially for the market right now. 

We’re being very, I would say selective on our next steps in the job process. So, a lot of candidates are kind of, I don’t know, maybe in fear, and so, to take away the fear is to find someone to help you. To help you and hold your hand on your journey. People do not mind. 

Mac Prichard:

And how does that help you once you go through that process, Sha, of knowing what you want, where you want to go, make the most of the opportunity that this current labor market offers? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

What happens is the more you know, the better decisions you can make. Knowledge is power, and there’s, I would say, employees or the job seekers are already in a powerful position right now. They get to choose. Right? 

But the, I would say, the curse of choice is there are many choices. So, sometimes we can’t choose. So, having someone to help us make that decision or give us a little bit more information that’s more specific and not just general. When you Google things, those are general information. 

But if you find someone like Mac Prichard, who has his own podcast, and you want to have a podcast, then you reach out to say, “Hey, what did you do? How did you do that? Let me know what do I need to do to be ready to do those sorts of things.” It works out the same way in any other role. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, tell us more about that because that’s actually the second step you recommend a listener take to make the most of this current job market, which is to find somebody who’s doing what you want to do, and sit down and talk to with them. Tell us more about how that helps you as you take advantage of this job seeker’s market. 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Right, so when you’re talking to these industry professionals, they are giving you all of the insight, and the pros and the cons, and it’s great to find your community. Many times, people are not living in the space where they’re working. So, wherever you work and where they grow those people in the spaces where you want to be in, you want to go and join them. Speak their language. Understand their environment. And so, this is helpful in the sense of understanding this is where you really want to be. 

So, your question to me, Mac, is how is this helpful? Well, this is helpful by knowing what you don’t know. There’s so many things that people don’t know about the role they think they want, and when they get there, they’re like, “Oh, wait a minute, I didn’t know it was this. I didn’t know it was gonna be like that.” 

When you’re speaking to industry professionals, and they’re in the thick of it, and they tell you, “Hey, listen I’m working eighty-hour weeks,” they’re giving you all of, I would say, the good and the bad. The cloud and the rainbow. 

Because there might be people that are still doing it that love it but still see the positives and the negatives easily. 

Mac Prichard:

What’s the best way to find people like this? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

You typically research on LinkedIn. I know I’m plugging LinkedIn. They have not paid me, I promise. But LinkedIn is such a great space to find groups. In the search space, you can find people, groups, schools, associations. That is where I would start and really start around you. 

You know, I know I’m an outgoing person, so it’s kind of easy to introduce myself, and I know others are not. But you could also if you’re an introvert, you can send out emails on LinkedIn and maybe find someone, even if they live down the street from you “Hey, I looked at your LinkedIn profile. I know you’re in the neighborhood. Do you think we can have a cup of coffee?” 

I had a podcast, I do have a podcast, and I had a podcast guest who told me when he met someone, he asked for three other contacts. So, that was really helpful information. I spread that wealth of knowledge to other people. When you find one person, see if that person can help you find three others. 

Mac Prichard:

What else do you recommend asking for in those conversations, Sha, besides introductions to others? Are there questions you always recommend bringing up? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Yes. Well, typically, everyone has their own concerns and issues that they’re worried about, and these days, right now, it’s working from home, and flexibility, and balance. People are looking for workforce balance. Eighty-nine percent of the market are parents, and seventy percent are mothers. So there’s a phrase that, you know, a mother is only – what do they say? A mother is only as healthy as her unhealthiest child. So, mothers and parents that are in the workforce may have special needs kids. They might have a parent that they’re taking care of. 

So, every home and every person has their individual concerns. So, they can, you know, submit these ideas to this person, say, “What do you think about my situation? Do you think this is compatible with this particular role?” So, I would say it would be very much custom to your desires and your future needs. 

But definitely ask about growth, opportunity, longevity, work from home – because these are, I would say, the top spaces. Also pay and benefits. I know that that typically is understood, but now it’s going from, I would say, number two on the top five list to about number five.  

Mac Prichard:

A third recommendation you make to your clients to make the most of the current job seeker’s market is to research the job you want. Why is this necessary, Sha? Can’t you just learn this in the job interview or wait for the offers to come to you, particularly in such a tight labor market? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Yes, of course, you can. Some people do like to dive in, but I suggest people not to have surprises at the office. Right? So, there’s roles that look very, I would say, exciting. 

You know, I would say, that it’s true for recruiters. There’s a lot of people who want to be in human resources or talent acquisition and say they find it exciting, and there’s a, I would say, a thought process or a mindset of people thinking we hire people, we hand out roles. HR doesn’t hire. HR doesn’t do that. We don’t have the power to do that. We hire for hiring managers. So, we’re not in a powerful role in the sense that, you know, we make the final decision. And so, that’s a big misconception, and I think once people see and hear recruiters, they’re like, oh, she can get me a job. No, you get yourself a job. I can help you and bring you to the table and help you get there, but you have to definitely deliver. 

So, the reason why you want to do research is because you want to be able to deliver on the role, and not because that you’re uninterested in the role but because maybe you just need to work on getting better. Some people are surprised once they arrive, and so, this is why you have internships, externships, and these types of opportunities for early careers is because they want to expose you, and they want you to get a feel of the role. This is what it’s all about. 

But if you are not in your early career space, and you are a bonafide veteran of the marketplace, and you want to make a transition, you definitely need to do your research because an internship is not available. You have to be able to get information from industry professionals. They give you a great perspective on what your role is gonna look like and if it’s compatible with your lifestyle. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Sha. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

For me, I’m working on launching season three. I’m so excited for Cool Careers podcast. It’s been, I would say, seen and heard from many people, like you, Mac Prichard. So grateful for you to invite me and for you to find me on LinkedIn or the internet, and inviting me here to this space. We’ve been very successful so far trying to connect people. Just as I was explaining to you, my guests are industry professionals speaking about their roles. 

So, if candidates are having a time finding, looking for particular professionals, reach out to us. We are making sure that we’re exposing everyone and giving all of our guests a chance to highlight what they do. Most people are very excited about what they do. It is a part of their DNA and a part of their lifestyle, and they want to share with everyone just in case they are interested in doing something similar. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s a terrific show, and I encourage listeners to check it out. I know they can find the show by going to coolcareerspodcast.com and wherever you get your podcasts, and I know you also, Sha, encourage listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and if they do, I hope they’ll mention that they heard you on our show. 

Now, Sha, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why candidates are in the driver’s seat, and how to make the most of it? 

Sha Lee Hornsby:

Well, it is their power right now. This is such a great time to find exactly what you’re looking for. So, when we are in a space of choosing, I would say, liberty versus obligation, many of us are choosing liberty. And so, I would say the ball is in your court. Find what you want. Find someone to help you, even if that means it’s me. Please reach out, and let’s help you find what you’re looking for. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Keirsten Greggs. 

She’s the founder and CEO of TRAP Recruiter. It’s a recruiting and career coaching firm that bridges the gap between job seekers and employers.

One study found that recruiters spend just seven seconds looking at your resume. 

So it’s important to have a well-organized and targeted resume. But what’s the best way to do this? 

Join us next Wednesday when Keirsten Greggs and I talk about what matters most when a recruiter looks at your resume. 

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo.  Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

For the first time in decades, there are more jobs open than people who want them. What does this mean for you? It means that you now have the freedom to pursue what you truly want instead of settling for what you can get. Find Your Dream Job guest Sha Lee Hornsby says now is the perfect time to make the career change you’ve been putting off. Flexibility is more available than ever, and employers are willing to hire you even if you have gaps in your resume. Sha recommends finding your community and using it to help you get where you want to go.

About Our Guest:

Sha Lee Hornsby is a staffing and HR expert with more than 20 years of experience. Sha also hosts the award-winning Cool Careers Podcast.

Resources in This Episode:

  • Not sure what your dream job would look like? Check out Sha’s podcast, Cool Careers Podcast, where she talks to people about their jobs and why they love them. 
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume . TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.