Many career seekers I meet have spent a lot of time trying to “find a job.” They focus on a job out there just waiting, and all that is needed is to rise above the competition to land it.
Another, more proactive strategy is to look for problems you can solve at an organization and convince them to invent a job for you. To some this sounds unlikely, so here are a couple of ways to get started and add this strategy to the search.
In our increasingly freelance-focused economy, where more and more companies – especially here in Colorado – are looking for people to handle specific projects for them on a temporary or long-term temporary basis, it is very possible that you can market your skills to a decision-maker at a company who faces challenges in order to land a job that he or she will create just for you. It may start as a contract engagement even, but its not hard to sprint, shine and become indispensable. Also you are more likely to be paid in line with you value rather than a previous incumbent’s pay rate.
What can you do to access this ‘hidden job market’?
Research your target companies.
Read everything you can and meet with people in the company to learn about the issues they currently face. If possible, also touch base with people who used to work in the company, as they can also answer questions about the company’s culture and decision-making techniques.
Make a match between a problem the organization faces and something you can reasonably solve. One key factor that will make you more marketable: a track record of having solved a similar problem in the past. Most companies will hesitate to take a chance on someone who hasn’t already “been there, done that” when it comes to the challenge at hand.
Create an online profile featuring the skills you’ll need to have to do the job.
It’s up to you to clearly show you have strong expertise in the skills you’re marketing to the employer. If you are planning to introduce yourself as a marketing pro, and the word “marketing” doesn’t appear anywhere on your LinkedIn profile, you are probably not going to get very far. Before you think about pitching a company, create a clear online “brand” that indicates you are an expert, or even a thought leader, in your field.
If you are actually an expert in the targeted area, this is a lot easier than you may think. Some steps to get started: Create an optimized, in-depth online profile on LinkedIn and choose other social networks where people in your industry spend time. Then, find groups to join and consistently share your expertise in those places. Post updates frequently and comment on news in your industry so people who follow you will view you as a go-to expert.
Put your ideas in writing.
Provide a reasonably detailed proposal to suggest that you understand what the employer is facing and that you know how to solve it. Be sure to include examples of similar problems you’ve solved in the past. Incorporate information such as time frame and how long you anticipate it would take you to tackle the project.
Include verbiage indicating you know you’ll need additional information, but from your in-depth research thus far, you’ve provided your best estimates. Identify the appropriate decision-maker to offer your proposal. It’s even better if you have a personal introduction to that person from an insider in the organization, but if you can tap into your social networking contacts and locate someone willing to introduce you electronically, that is a good alternative.
With some planning, research and a targeted proposal, you may land an opportunity that never even existed!