Where do jobs come from?  Who creates them, and how do they get filled

Understanding how positions evolve can be helpful if you are positioning yourself for new opportunities.

Employers hire people for a variety of reasons.  The workload increases.  A team member quits.  Existing personnel do not have the right skills.  Internal processes change.  The company expands.  What all these situations have in common is that they present a problem that an employer is trying to solve. Sam, a litigation attorney, is one such employer.  He needs help desperately but is too busy to look for it.

Sam wakes up one day and realizes that he must make some changes.  His current staff is overloaded, and his clients are complaining about missed deadlines.  He has an ‘inkling’ that a new employee could solve his problem.

After ‘mulling over’ the situation for a day or so, Sam gets distracted by a project that needs his immediate attention. Days go by, then weeks, then months, until he is so overwhelmed that his family life and health are suffering, and his clients are threatening to go elsewhere.

In the meantime, work is overflowing, and the existing staff is burning out from repeated deadlines and cranky clients. Sam wishes someone who understands his predicament would ‘magically’ appear in the doorway, so he can take his wife and children on the vacation he promised them months ago.

When the straw is just about to break the camel’s back, Sam meets with his partners to discuss some alternatives to the workload issues that have been pending for some time.  They agree they need to hire someone.  The next day Sam gets a call from the court and must start preparing for trial right away.  The job that isn’t a job yet gets put on the back burner while Sam is sidetracked for another month.

Next comes the first in a series of temporary fixes that will delay the solution to the problem even longer.  Sam’s secretary has a cousin who is in between jobs and although she has no experience working in a law firm, he hires her to organize his trial documents.  Halfway through the project she gets a full-time job offer and leaves.

By a stroke of luck Sam’s partner’s secretary is available to finish organizing the documents. The combination of the rush, the lack of knowledge about the case, and the pressure of correcting the mistakes the cousin made creates so much tension that it is impossible to do an excellent job.  She does the best she can, but the client is not fully satisfied.

Sam finishes the trial and has a short lull in his schedule allowing him to sketch out a job description.  He announces the position to his network and waits for referrals.  Several more weeks go by and he is faced with more deadlines, a secretary who is absent for a few days, more demanding clients, and a disappointed family who has missed their vacation.

Sam spends the next two weeks interviewing three candidates who were referred to him by various peers in the field.  They are okay, but they lack the take charge attitude he needs.  After exhausting his resources, Sam posts the job online and hundreds of resumes start jamming up his inbox.  He spends a week reviewing the resumes and finally settles on a candidate who will do in a pinch.  Yet another short term, temporary solution.

The next day the new employee shows up ready to work and at the same time his favorite client announces they have moved their business to a competitor that is better equipped to handle deadlines.  Sam is devastated.  Had someone with that certain sort of ‘magic’ shown up at his door months before, he would have avoided the shortfall with his client, and saved a bundle on Alka-Seltzer.

Three weeks later, Sam fires the individual he hired, and is nagged by the constant sensation that he has failed to solve his problem.  Low and behold, he gets a call from a candidate prospecting for employment. The applicant (who never saw the ad he placed) sends a resume, gets interviewed, and a day later starts the new job.  Two weeks later Sam is on a plane to Aruba with his wife and kids.

The first stage of a new job is when the job isn’t even a job yet.  The problem exists but not the solution.  While Sam was held hostage by his busy schedule, he needed some ‘magic.’  Someone who would show up at the door willing to take the helm and solve his problem.

What is the moral of the story?  Prospecting directly to the employer is a win-win for both parties.  Employers waste a lot of time and energy trying to find the most profitable talent.  The best time to approach them is when they are in the ‘inkling – mull-it-over’ stage.

Categories: Career Advancement