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How to Create Your Own Job

If you really want to be different, stop being a job seeker, and become a job maker. Dr. Bennett McClellan tells you how.
BY Bennett E. McClellan, Ph.D. |   23-12-2015

Students often ask, “What job will I get when I graduate college?”

I generally respond, “What job will you make for yourself?”

A posted job signals that a company has a need for some number of people with similar skill sets.  If you want to be a person who looks like everybody else in the race to obtain a posted job, then join the pack.  Finish college.  Look for job postings. Get in line.  Good luck!

If, on the other hand, if you want to be a person who stands apart from the pack, then you need to think differently about what it means to get a job.  Start by thinking about what it takes to create a job.

What does it take to create a job?

There are at least three principles of job creation.  The first is that a job represents an unfulfilled need for somebody.  That “somebody” is a hiring manager, not the company.  The second principle is that in order to fill a need a hiring manger must first recognize that need.   And third, hiring managers generally look to their immediate environment to fill their needs.

A job represents an unfulfilled need for a hiring manager.

Companies do not create jobs.  People create jobs.  Specifically, people who manage other people create jobs.  Your goal in creating your own job should be to identify people in various organizations who could hire you if they saw the need.

One of the best ways to find people with hiring authority is to volunteer your services inside organizations that interest you.  Take on internships.  Find out what kinds of work the organization generates.  Do a research paper on the organization or the industry.  Meet the people who make decisions.  Write articles or create a documentary video to explore the personalities at your future employer.   Get a short-term consulting or project-based assignment, or assist a group that serves your chosen industry.

Don’t look for a job.  Look for people who have the authority to create jobs.  These are the decisions makers who need to get to know you.  Get to know them first.

Employers must recognize a need before they can fill it.

Needs are tricky things to spot.  If you ask a hiring manager, “What kind of job openings do you have?” they will respond, “We don’t have any job openings.” 

If you ask that same hiring manager, “What kinds of things could you do if you had another person?” you are likely to get a very different kind of answer.

Almost every manager has a set of projects they cannot get accomplished because they do not have the people to assign to those projects.   Most managers find that situation frustrating.  Find that frustration.

Here are four words that will open the world of jobs for you: “I could do that.”  Memorize these words.  Chant them as your mantra.  You will never lack for jobs.

When I graduated college, I applied for a number of posted lab jobs.  I got none.  However, while in school, I had worked as an actor for a regional theatre company.   I approached the Producing Director to ask about getting a job at the theater. 

The Producing Director asked me, “What do you want to do?” 

I responded, “I want to help you.” 

He said, “We don’t hire people for that.” 

I said, “If you had a person like me working for you, what else could you get done?” 

As it turned out, the Producing Director had a lot of things he wanted to do.

That conversation, and my saying, “I could do that,” kept me employed in the theatre for the next six years.  None of those jobs were ever posted. 

Frustration is your opening to unrecognized job openings.  The job you will create will reduce your hiring manager’s frustration.  Those jobs do not get posted.  But in any organization those jobs always exist.  When you spot one of those opportunities, chant, “I could do that!”  And of course, always deliver on what you promise.

Managers look first to their immediate environment to fill their needs.

Hiring managers are people who typically have too much to do and little time to spare.  When they discover they have a need, their impulse is to grab the first person that they can find to address that need.   Seasoned employees learn early on to dodge the boss with a new idea.  However, if you want a job, don’t dodge the boss.  Dog the boss.  Show up as often as you can.  Become a presence at your chosen future employer to take advantage of those, “You there!” moments.

When I was General Manager of Nickelodeon’s west coast animation studio, I realized one early morning that I needed a character drawn for a meeting that day.  I walked into the studio, pointed to the first person I saw, and said “You there, can you draw this for me?”  That person responded, “I can.”  He happened to be our Xerox operator.  He also happened to be a talented artist.  Today, that person is working an animation director.  “You there!”  Be ready!

Job creation is not necessarily something others do for you.  It is also something you can learn to do for others.  Identify the people who have hiring authority, discover what else they could do if they had a person like you on staff, and then be there when they realize they need you.
 

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