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Becoming a Post-Job Professional, Part III

Gabe Heilig

Founder, Action Resumes—Pentagon

And how do you become someone like this?

This way:
1. Define the set of professional problems you want to be paid to solve.

2. Identify organizations that have these kinds of problems, ones where you might actually like to work.

3. Call them and ask: “I’m curious how people in your organization solve _____ problems . I’ve done a lot of this and I’d like to compare notes with whoever is in charge of solving these problems for you. Who would that be?”

4. You will now be far beyond HR. It won’t even know you exist. That’s exactly where you want to be. Whoever is in charge of that set of problems is the person you want to talk with. HR doesn’t know who that person is and they don’t care. Their job is to put seats in chairs. Your job is to solve problems, and people with problems to solve for an organization are usually important enough to have the authority to get help in solving those problems.

5. If you bring that person an informed conversation about those problems, that person will ask to see your resume and will appreciate your initiative and skill in getting past HR—as well as your knowledge of these problems. That person has plenty of these problems. And you’ve just shown up, looking like help.

6. Problem solved. Especially, your problem—i.e., getting hired on your terms. Now you can work on their problems, also on your terms.

7. And notice: No HR people were involved.

8. Notice also: there won’t be any other applicants for this work. It won’t be a job that’s advertised. It will be a quick hire, addressing an immediate need. So you’ll have this opportunity to yourself.

9. And notice: You didn’t wait for this assignment to appear on a job board. You created the opportunity, right out of the problem.

10. Presto! You’ve begun learning how to turn an insight into employment—and this kind of problem-based employment into a career path for yourself.

What I’ve outlined is not rocket science. It’s human science: applying common sense to common problems, problems many organizations tend to avoid. If you like to solve these problems—which you’ve defined as the ones you want to be dealing with professionally— you are likely to find you will soon have many opportunities to work on them.

If you call employers who have these problems, some manager there will have the job of solving them and will be glad to discuss these problems with someone “who gets it.”

Try it. You’ll see.

Entire consulting firms have been launched this way.

Very successful ones, too.

More to the point, you can write the next chapter of your career by doing this. You can do it by taking Einstein’s advice to heart: by shifting perspective.

In this case, shifting your perspective from chasing jobs to spotting and adopting orphaned problems wandering the corridors of corporate America.

These problems need parenting.

And you won’t have to do this alone. You’ll have allies: the employers who hire you.

This arrangement will work for them.

It will also work for you.

The employers who hire you will be guided toward solution paths for their problems. And you’ll be guiding yourself toward an independent career as one of the Talent Economy’s emerging Post-Job Professionals.

The new economy isn’t going to be fueled by jobs. It’s going to be fueled by talent: by people who have learned how to create their own employment.

It can be done.

And these days, more and more people are doing it.

We’ve moved from a job-based economy to an unsteady, Uber-ish “sharing economy.” From there, we may begin evolving to a truly talent-based world in which people will be seen as more effective problem-solvers than large organizations, which have gotten so clogged they can’t even see their own problems.

In such a world, people who can sell their skill in spotting and solving problems can create their own jobs. There doesn’t seem to be enough of this kind of talent to go around. Either that, or our schools and workplaces don’t know how to cultivate it.

The Talent Economy will reward those who can talk to corporate leaders as equals, because they’re bringing what many corporate whales lack, or don’t know how to summon: the ability to perceive situations clearly, the willingness to tell the truth about what they see, a sense of boldness in engaging and leveraging change—a skill they use in managing their own Post-Job careers—and skill in mapping solution paths and guiding others to take steps onto and down those paths.

These skills aren’t defined in anybody’s job description.

And that’s the whole point.

If you want to liberate your career from someone else’s pre-defined job description for you, learn to invent your own!

Think about problems you’re good at solving, then talk to managers who have these problems piled up on their desks. Talk to them—but not about yourself and your resume. Instead, talk with them about their problems.

They’ll soon be asking you for your resume. They’ll want your skills on their staff. Their problems are like money in the bank—a down payment on your career as a Post-Job Professional.

Remember: other people’s problems contain opportunities, but you’re the one holding the talent.

Now’s the time to bring it to the table.

Gabe Heilig has assisted over 5,300 people in advancing their careers. If you have a question, feel free to ask. Other people may have the same question you do and he may answer your question in print in a future column. You can reach him at gabe@ideadesign-dc.com