Operation Boss Lady is a series all about becoming a strong and established female career badass.
Our first post for Operation Boss Lady (#OBL), was all about blooming where you’re planted, and making your “temporary place holder job” work for you. This week I’d like to introduce you to concept I learned while working as a resource worker in Calgary called Job Carving.
At my workplace in YYC, job carving was a practice we used frequently, while supporting our clients to find employment. It wasn’t until I left that position that I realized it wasn’t common knowledge; the confused looks tipped me off… Job carving? Huh?
In essence, job carving is a way to create your own job within an organization. It involves identifying possible holes in the organization’s procedural functions, and basically selling yourself to the employer as the solution. The beauty of job carving is that it can be done within an organization by whom you are already employed, OR it can be done within an organization you only interact with as an outsider or customer. At the end of the day, you end up looking like a hero because not only have you improved the organization’s overall functioning, but you are perceived as innovative and proactive – oh, and you also scored a job out of it. Pretty sweet eh?!
Something to consider with job carving, is that generally it’s best to use your relationship with the organization as you’re jumping off point. You want to make sure you’re actually listened to, so making sure it’s communicated that you’re a customer, a loyal employee, or a friend of the organization, is important. You don’t want to be brushed off as a used car salesman, and the above mentioned people will be listened to.
Remember that essentially you’re criticizing the organization’s function, so you need to sell it in a way that sounds very beneficial to the employer and not at all insulting.
If you are already employed with the organization and don’t know where to start:
- Consider starting your job carving journey by suggesting to management that you take on a few additional responsibilities. These extra tasks will be those that you identify as needing a little extra attention, or they could be tasks that aren’t being done, but should be. Even if you don’t get an entirely new position out of it right away, it should earn you more hours, or even a small pay bump. *Disclaimer: DON’T DO THIS FOR FREE. If you’re offering to do extra work from home or additional hours outside of your usual, make sure you’re claiming it… Please.
- Another angle is to offer to take on some of your lead’s work, to give them more time to work on important projects. This angle worked really well for me at my hosting job, and soon I was opening the restaurant by myself, training new staff, and helping to coordinate the social media efforts.
If you are not already employed by the organization here is a general guideline for job carving:
- Start by learning as much as you can about the organization and it’s policies and procedures. Attend events held by the org, and meet as many people as you can if possible. If you’re having a hard time getting information, try setting up an information interview with someone in HR, and come armed with questions. When you eventually do pitch your job idea, those in charge of hiring will recognize your name!
- When you figure out who to approach, make sure to start the conversation with context. Establishing how you’re connected to the organization will ensure you’re listened to right off the hop – especially if you’re a customer.
- When you approach the subject of “what they could be doing better,” make sure you don’t come off critically. Starting with a, “you guys do _______ so well!” could definitely help soften the blow.
- Make sure your suggestion for improvement is followed immediately with your solution (remember, YOU are that solution!)
- Finally, don’t give too much away. You want to make sure your solution sounds really appealing, but doesn’t give them all the answers to fix it internally without you! After all, you are the answers to their prayers right?!
- Follow up follow up follow up. This does not mean harass. But you definitely need to follow up with the individual you spoke to. A nice thank you email, (sent outside of business hours), followed by bi-weekly check-ins should do the trick. Keep them genuine, and I’m sure you’ll get a response.
- Don’t get hung up on one location. Not every organization is open to this kind of thing, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If the organization isn’t flexible in their approach, it’s probably not a place you want to work anyways! Arm yourself with the knowledge you gained from that experience and move onto the next one!
Have any of you ever job carved your own position?! I’d love to hear your experiences!
Until next time,
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