create your own job

Published on May 20, 2020

I created my own job.

When I was first hired, my job title was “Researcher in Residence.” This job, as far as I knew at the time, was not one that was common in Silicon Valley. I made it up.

If you are just getting started in your career, you may be reading through job posts and thinking to yourself “this doesn’t align with me.” You may end up going through dozens or hundreds of posts, without finding something that meets your needs and interests.

The trouble with reading over job descriptions is that they are written entirely from the perspective of a company. A job description is a list of things that a company thinks they need from the candidate that is filling a position.

Job descriptions, however, are not set in stone. Great companies are not interested in whether you check off a list of boxes. They are instead interested in seeing if you are able to provide them with value.

If you can’t find a job that you want, create your own job. I accomplished this by reaching out to companies and telling them how I could provide value to their organizations.

In one case, I wrote a three-page document outlining ways in which I could help a company improve their content strategy. I didn’t get hired at that company, but I did catch their attention. (If they were hiring apprentices at the time, I think I would have had a decent shot.)

I created the job that I have today. I reached out to my current employer and told them ways in which I thought I could help improve their content strategy. I spoke about my skills, but within the context of their long-term goals. It turned out that they were looking for someone to help out with content, and my skills matched their needs. So, they took a chance on me.

I spent months looking over job descriptions in search of a job that would provide me with what I was looking for. The trouble was that those descriptions were all written by founders or hiring managers or HR representatives who were talking about what they thought their company needed. Those companies were not applying to me; I was applying to them.

If you want to create your own job, start by making a list of companies for whom you want to work. The way I did this was by thinking about my interests, which at the time were in education, bootcamps, and Income Share Agreements.

Then, go through each company on your list and read as much as you can about them. What is their vision? What goals do they have? How do their main product or service offerings work? How does the business make money?

Once you understand the architecture of a business, you can start to consider how you can help them. For instance, I knew that my current employer wanted to write high-quality content about financing, but they were not explicitly interested in hiring someone to do that at the time. To convince them that they should hire someone, I showed off my skills, and told them how I would improve their current content strategy. It worked, and I was hired.

There will be many companies who ignore your proposals to create your own job. But that’s just part of the job search process: not everyone will get back to you. However, if you put enough thought into it, you should be able to get at least one company to respond to your proposal and ask to chat.

Ultimately, businesses want to hire people who can add value to their organizations. If you can add value to a business in a meaningful way -- preferably one that will help them boost profits or achieve a clear organizational goal or ambition -- then there is no reason why they should not at least give you a chance.

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Made by @jamesg_oca. Code on GitHub.