It’s that time of year again!
A fresh cohort of new graduates have wrapped up their degrees and are excited to put their skills and knowledge to use in a new job. However, competition can be tight as hundreds of qualified applicants compete for each new role posted online. The process of searching for jobs and filling out dozens of applications can be tiresome and frustrating, but there is a solution!
Job seekers are often reactive in their search, waiting for organizations to identify gaps and post a new position, but being proactive can increase your odds of job search success by creating roles in the land of the not-looking. This involves finding an organization you would like to work with and showing them what fresh new skills and ideas you can bring to the table.
Fair warning, this method is not for the faint of heart – but it is a great way to stand out among the wave of recent graduates. Here’s what you need to do to build your own job where one doesn’t exist.
Step 1: Identify a current business problem that your skills can address.
First, you need to choose an organization you want to work with and put those exam-cramming research skills to use. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, focusing especially on the area of the company you want to work in.
Essentially, what you want to be looking for are current problems or challenges the organization faces. Perhaps the organization has a great website, but is missing out on prospective customers by under-utilizing social media. Or maybe a manufacturing or construction company is continually being penalized for minor worker safety infractions, generating unnecessary fines.
Look at these business challenges as an opportunity and think about how you could apply your skills and expertise to help resolve or alleviate them.
Step 2: Create a detailed plan/business case for the potential role.
Once you have identified an opportunity, you need to create a business case for how you could solve the challenges facing the organization. In other words, how can you fill the employer’s skills gap?
First, outline the issue facing the organization and describe the impact on the business. What challenges does the issue pose or what opportunities is the organization missing out on?
Secondly, identify what a successful solution to the issue would look like. Would the organization diversify its customer base? Would they save money?
Lastly, map out what you would do to resolve the issue and identify how you possess the skills and competencies needed. In essence, describe what your role would be. For this, you need to be specific in outlining how you’ll apply the skills you’ve learned in school to a real world problem. It also wouldn’t hurt to identify goals and milestones that you would accomplish in this role.
Step 3: Formalize your business case in a ‘pain letter.’
The next step is to formalize your business case in a pain letter. What is a pain letter you may ask? While a cover letter details what you’ve accomplished in past roles, a pain letter outlines what you will achieve in a future role.
Outline the pain (or skills gap) you have identified and how you, if hired, plan to address it. Not only does this demonstrate how your skills can benefit the organization, it also shows you’ve done your research and are dedicated and serious about making a difference in the organization.
You can also develop your pain letter into a succinct pitch demonstrating how your skills can fill the missing link to the organization’s success. Practice and perfect your pitch so you’ll know what to say when it’s time to sell your skills to your prospective employer.
Step 4: Connect with the right people.
After you have formalized your plan into a pain letter, you need to do a bit more research to identify who to address it to. To start, you can look up employees through the company website, on LinkedIn, through your network, or contact the organization directly.
Send the pain letter with an introduction about who you are and invite the hiring manager to connect with you to discuss the letter and what you can offer the organization. This will be your opportunity to deliver your pitch in person.
Showing that you understand the organization’s challenges and presenting how you can alleviate them may help you create your own job, or impress the organization so much they’ll realize they can’t afford not to hire you!
Furthermore, new graduates who are proactive will create opportunities for themselves and impress employers with their gumption and desire to work. Even if your first few “pain letters” don’t pan out, identifying problem areas in businesses is a great way to practice your analytical thinking skills and stay up-to-date on the issues affecting your field. If you stick with it, you’ll be sure to stand out in a crowd of traditional applicants.