The word “job” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue in recent months: politicians promise “the creation of jobs”; many people have “lost their job”, and now need to “find a job”; government throws money at the problem, through the issuance of stimulus money, in the attempt that it will be used to “add new jobs”; the “job boards” are flooded with applicants to the point where companies that actually have a “job to post” can’t keep up with the influx.
It’s all about the job! I propose that we gravitate away from the notion of getting a job to the idea of creating and finding meaningful work. My husband and I have both experienced job losses in the last three years; his being the most recent, and at the height of the unemployment crisis. I advised him to not even bother going through the motions on the job boards. Instead, we agreed that he had a lot to offer companies, especially being an effective manufacturing and operations leader—something sorely lacking in our country. Instead, he spent his time contacting everyone he knew in various industries, and offered his availability as a consultant, temporary turnaround manager, special projects work, and even business partner.
This approach accomplished several things:
- He wasn’t putting people or organizations in a position of feeling bad about not giving him a job—it was less threatening, and more comfortable for both parties.
- It got business leaders thinking differently about how to uncover and use talent, without necessarily adding someone to their already stressed payroll.
- Approached as a temporary situation, the business owner didn’t have to commit.
- In a time when downsizing and layoffs are common, they could still get good work done by a talented individual, and be poised to be ahead of the competition when the economy bounces back.
- My husband would then also have an opportunity to bring his ideas and effective leadership into an organization that may see him as then essential, and become permanent.
Years ago I read a book called “Creating You & Co.” (http://www.amazon.com/Creating-You-Co-Learn-Career/dp/0738200328) I feel like this approach is brilliant. It encourages you to figure out and embrace what you have to offer organizations and then finding an organization that will make use of your talents! Create your own “job”. Unfortunately, most organizations (that are in the position of hiring) are still in the traditional “job” mode. “I’m sorry, we don’t have an opening right now.” In other words, “We don’t have a vacant cube with a very specific list of tasks available right now, and we are not forward thinking enough to find a way to use your unique talents in our organization.” How unfortunate for these close-minded companies! Think about how far they could advance by looking to the unique strengths and talents of an individual, rather than seeking out the highest number of key words on their electronic resume! I wish we could go back to the days of actually walking into a company in person, and handing a copy of our resume to the hiring individual; being able to smile and say "I can contribute to the success of your company and here's why."
I have just begun working with Martin Davidson, PhD., a professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He specializes in helping organizations uncover and capitalize on the unique talents of their people, or simply put, Talent Management. (Stay tuned for his new Web site to be released by January 1st, 2010 for more information on his research and work in this area.)
There are many unemployed talented people out there that shouldn’t be reduced to working at a big box store for minimum wage because there are no “jobs”. I agree that there are no jobs, and I hope there continues to be no jobs. What I hope is that instead there is more “work”, and as a result more “progress”.
(My husband's approach ended up leading to a permanent employment opportunity, perfectly suited for him and his employer. And I chose to create my own work through my marketing consulting practice,CMarie Marketing Group.)