April 11, 2014

How to Create a Job Out of Thin Air

wizard girl with magic wandResearch shows that one of the main reasons that employees leave companies is due to lack of career progression. But, this situation can be like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the job market remains tough, meaning new opportunities may not be easy to come by if you do try to leave.

So, what do you do? Sulk and become disengaged in a dead end career or bang your head against the wall in a job marketplace, which may not be that fertile at the moment?

The truth is that you don’t have to do any of these things, as there is a third way. Why not attempt to create your own job within your current business? It’s not as crazy as it sounds as momentum and research is behind you. For example, Time Magazine reports that internal hiring has been on the rise and that employers are favoring it because it is cheaper and quicker.

So, everything is in your favor and today could be the perfect time for you to create your own new role in an environment where structured career development opportunities may be hard to come by or are evading you. So, how can it be done, how can you create your own job in your present company out of seemingly thin air? Read on to see how:

1. Manage your image to appear like a high potential

In many respects you are interviewing for your next internal job every day, just by showing up and performing. So, a key part of making yourself appear like a high potential is to perform well. Meet your goals, participate in appraisals, and forward your manager any emails of praise and recommendation that you get from your staff.

2. Network and get out of your comfort zone

We simply can’t emphasize just how important networking is to you getting ahead. Studies show that a significant number of job opportunities are filled via word of mouth or referrals, and that having a recommendation significantly increases your chance of being chosen or entrusted with a role.

But, networking doesn’t just mean talking to your boss and your cronies as studies show that these ‘strong ties’, as they are known, might be better for emotional support, but are unlikely to uncover any novel opportunities that you are not already aware of.

No, to find new opportunities you need to break away from your cronies and spend time networking with people outside of your fold across the business, perhaps by joining a different table at lunch, joining a lunch time running club, or simply having a monthly coffee with a work acquaintance. You are much more likely to uncover novel opportunities for development by exploiting these ‘weak social ties‘.

3. Target gaps that you have the skill to fill

When networking and surveying the business, you should be looking at gaps in the operation which you can fulfill.

Perhaps you have a degree or expertise in online database systems, yet your company is still using excel or even paper-based operational systems. Is there an opportunity for you to introduce a more effective system and save the company time and money?

If you could do this and do it well in one area, you might eventually be able to do this within other departments in the company and start to forge a role for yourself. There are many jobs or partial jobs waiting to be done in companies, there just needs to be a justification and budget to do them.

4. Pitching the job to your manager

Having spotted the opportunity, you’ll need to pitch it to your manager or the relevant decision maker. Your pitch should include things like:

  • Inefficiencies of doing it the current way
  • Influential voices who would welcome a new system
  • Examples of competitors that use these new systems
  • A job title, duties and showing other companies who have this job position
  • Potentially offer to do it as free trial, initially (this could be in your spare time on an experimental basis to show it can work)
  • Show your skills and capabilities in this area, e.g. qualifications, past experiences and any live examples of your work in this field

Read more in Job Search Advice

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.