Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Create a Job for Yourself

If you’ve been jobless for an extended period of time, maybe you ought to stop looking for the right job.
Instead, try looking for the right employer.
If you do, and contact them with the right message, employers may create a job just for you.
It happens all the time -- even in today’s economy.
Here are three case studies and takeaway lessons to illustrate …

  1. Offer to help first and get hired later While not every company wants to expand hiring these days, every company wants to increase revenues, save money and increase profits.
    In other words, every company has problems to solve. And all jobs, in good economic times and bad, are ultimately created to solve problems.
    The best employers -- the ones you want to work for -- are flexible and opportunistic enough to hire people who demonstrate that they can solve problems.
    Michael Mingolelli, Jr., CEO of Pinnacle Financial Group, in Southborough, Mass., has twice created jobs to bring promising employees on board. “These people approached us with a good value proposition to help us continue to grow our practice, and we made positions for them.”
    Both prospective employees first contacted Mingolelli by phone and demonstrated their knowledge of Pinnacle. “They were very attuned to what we do and the type of clients we have,” he says.
    Your takeaway lesson: Answer these three questions before approaching any employer:
    A. What are their problems?
    Put differently, if you were the CEO, what would keep you up at night right now?
    B. What are their opportunities?
    If you were CEO and could wave a magic wand, what would you make happen? What are the industry leaders doing?
    C. How could you help solve their problems and/or capitalize on their opportunities? Match your skills and achievements with your target employer’s needs. For example, if they need to save money and you’ve saved money, there’s a match. Quantify your results in dollars, numbers and/or percentages.
  2. Prove you fit the employer's culture When contacting employers, try to match your message to their corporate culture. Otherwise, you’ll never connect or fit in long term.
    That’s the advice of Annie Huidekoper, VP of Community Partnerships and Customer Service for the St. Paul Saints Baseball Team, whose corporate slogan is, “Fun is Good.”
    Fun may explain how the Saints’ Executive VP was hired for a role created for him, after he overnighted an introductory letter to owner Mike Veeck. What set this letter apart? “It was written with a Sharpie on a piece of frozen lutefisk,” says Huidekoper.
    Trust me: Nothing says “fun” like lutefisk.
    And lutefisk is 100% Minnesotan, like the Saints. A perfect fit.
    Your takeaway lesson: Research an employer’s culture to know if you’re a fit. It’s as simple as picking up the phone. “Talk to people who have worked there and find out what’s important to that organization,” suggests Huidekoper.
  3. Meet and get hired The more meetings you have with company presidents and other executives, the greater your chances of impressing someone enough to create a job for you.
After interviewing an applicant for a job that didn’t fit his qualifications, Jordan Solomon, President of Ecostrat, Inc., in Toronto, was impressed enough to make a counter offer. “This young man was too good to pass up -- he was eager, showed all the right qualities and I thought he would be a success. So we created a position and gave him a two-week trial,” says Solomon.
How did it turn out? “He ended up working for us for about seven years.”
Your takeaway lesson: Lightning won’t strike if you’re sitting in front of a computer. Try sitting across from an employer.
What company presidents would you most like to work for? I suggest you make a list of 10-20. Then contact them with offers to meet and discuss how you could help, based on careful research.
Employers are always on the lookout for smart people who can solve problems and fit with their corporate culture. “I would give anyone like that a chance, and if they were good, I’d create a position for them,” says Solomon.
- Kevin Donlin

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