Earlier this week I referenced an excellent article by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, Find a Job Using Disruptive Innovation. Their first piece of advice was to ask more and different questions. Their second suggestion was to start looking at the real jobs that need to be done, not at the jobs you once did:
. . . when people become aware of a "job" that they need to get done, they search for a product or service to "hire" for getting the job done effectively. Disruptive innovators grasp the "jobs-to-be-done" better than anyone else because they spend hours, days, and sometimes months watching people use products and services to fully understand the jobs that people are "hiring" products and services to do. Sometimes the jobs are surprising (like Christensen discovered when watching adults frequently "hire" a milkshake to do the job of not getting bored during a long commute). Often these observations pay off with ideas for new products and services better-suited for the job that needs to be done.
The same same approach can benefit you as a "job creator." Ask yourself what jobs-to-be-done do you care most about. Which ones are you most competent at? Or, which ones are the companies your targeting in your job search willing to hire you to do?
Set aside time to systematically create richer, deeper insights about jobs-to-be-done. Spend a half day a week just watching, taking notes, and if appropriate, videotaping or photographing people using different products and services that are interesting to you (or with the products of targeted companies in your job search). As you watch, constantly ask, "what's surprising or unexpected?" to help you discover new features, products, or services that might do the jobs even better, distinguishing you from other job candidates.
While sometimes it makes sense for you to consider your career moves in the context of what's currently available, increasingly I think that we need to take more of a "job creation" approach--looking for the intersection between problems and needs and our own skills, talents and passions. It may be that we are creating freelance opportunities for ourselves or we may be looking at creating new positions within companies or organizations. Either way, we are thinking about how we can create our own work, rather than just doing the work that is presented to us.
Here are some resources that can help you get started on being your own job creator: