I saw a great article the other day where Adam Berkowitz described how he created an opening for his ideal job. It reminded me of the several times that I did this when I worked for Hewlett-Packard.
I did it from inside the company. It took a lot of work and building influence, so I’m totally impressed by a guy who managed to break into a company from the outside.
But the principles are exactly the same.
You start by identifying a pressing need. You then establish that you have the ability to deliver compelling value. Then you sell that to key sponsors, stakeholders and gatekeepers.
Absolutely, yes. Fortunately, selling is a learnable skill. And you’re not trying to sell a commodity to billions of people across the planet. You’re just trying to convey a powerful concept to a few people so that they will “buy” it.
In a previous series of articles, I described a six-stage process for creating and selling a custom job description. But it’s been a few years, and I have the benefit of more hindsight and reflection.
Here are some additional things I’ve learned:
- You have to find something which will give compelling value to the person who is making the decision, and whoever is funding it. It needs to be compelling in their eyes, not yours. Your enthusiasm isn’t going to be a deciding factor for a decision this big.
- You also have to find something that you’re excited about and where you can credibly deliver a lot of value. If you can’t sustain your own energy, your productivity will start slipping, and you won’t want to continue the selling process even after you’re in the job.
- Yes, you have to sell other people on your concept. And you’ll be listening, adapting and refining along the way. Don’t like selling? Well, how bad do you want a job that you’ll love?
- Jobs like this are inherently unstable, because they’re outside the organizational norms. If you manage to do it for six months, it may still be a high point of your career because you were doing something interesting, useful, and fun.
- You can’t shy away from accountability. If you promised wonderful improvements of some kind, then make sure that’s what you deliver. If you don’t deliver it, then admit it and move on to your next job. You’ll still be able to take what you learned along with you.
Why would you want to take these risks and do all the work to create a new, custom-fit job opening? Because it may just be the most thrilling, engaging, and fun job you’ll ever have. And you’ll learn HEAPS along the way.
You might also find this interesting:
- Creating a custom job out of thin air, part 3: Describing how value would be provided
- Creating a custom job out of thin air, part 2: Establishing the compelling organizational need
- Creating custom jobs out of thin air, part 1: How are jobs normally created?
- Creating a custom job out of thin air, part 5: Stakeholders and gatekeepers
- Giving to get