Published in the Michigan Paralegal, Issue 1, 2012
Where do jobs come from? Who creates them, and how do they get filled?
Understanding how positions evolve can be helpful if you are positioning yourself
for new opportunities.
Employers hire people for a variety of reasons. The workload increases. A team
members quits. Existing personnel do not have the right skills. Internal processes
change. The company expands. What all of these situations have in common is that
they present a problem that an employer is trying to solve. Sam, a litigation attorney,
is one such employer. He needs help desperately but is too busy to look for it.
Sam wakes up one day and realizes that he has to make some changes. His current
staff is overloaded and his clients are complaining about missed deadlines. He has
an ‘inkling’ that a new employee could solve his problem.
After ‘mulling over’ the situation for a day or so, Sam gets distracted by a project
that needs his immediate attention. Days go by, then weeks, then months, until he
is so overwhelmed that his family life and health are suffering, and his clients
are threatening to go elsewhere.
In the meantime, work is overflowing and the existing staff is burning out from repeated
deadlines and cranky clients. Sam wishes someone who understands his predicament
would ‘magically’ appear in the doorway so he can take his wife and children on the
vacation he promised them months ago.
When the straw is just about to break the camel’s back, Sam meets with his partners
to discuss some alternatives to the workload issues that have been pending for some
time. They agree they need to hire someone. The next day Sam gets a call from the
court and has to start preparing for trial right away. The job that isn’t a job
yet gets put on the back burner while Sam is sidetracked for another month.
Next comes the first in a series of temporary fixes that will delay the solution
to the problem even longer. Sam’s secretary has a cousin who is in between jobs
and although she has no experience working in a law firm he hires her to organize
his trial documents. Halfway through the project she gets a full-time job offer
By a stroke of luck Sam’s partner’s secretary is available to finish organizing the
documents. The combination of the rush, the lack of knowledge about the case, and
the pressure of correcting the mistakes the cousin made creates so much tension that
it is impossible to do an excellent job. She does the best she can, but the client
is not fully satisfied.
Sam finishes the trial and has a short lull in his schedule allowing him to sketch
out a job description. He announces the position to his network and waits for referrals.
Several more weeks go by and he is faced with more deadlines, a secretary who is
absent for a few days, more demanding clients, and a disappointed family who has
missed their vacation.
Sam spends the next two weeks interviewing three candidates who were referred to
him by various peers in the field. They are okay, but they lack the take charge
attitude he needs. After exhausting his resources, Sam posts the job online and
hundreds of resumes start jamming up his inbox. He spends a week reviewing the resumes
and finally settles on a candidate who will do in a pinch. Yet another short term,
The next day the new employee shows up ready to work and at the same time his favorite
client announces they have moved their business to a competitor that is better equipped
to handle deadlines. Sam is devastated. Had someone with that certain sort of ‘magic’
shown up at his door months before, he would have avoided the shortfall with his
client, and saved a bundle on alka selzer.
Three weeks later, Sam fires the individual he hired, and is nagged by the constant
sensation that he has failed to solve his problem. Low and behold, he gets a call
from a candidate prospecting for employment. The applicant (who never saw the ad
he placed) sends a resume, gets interviewed, and a day later starts the new job.
Two weeks later Sam is on a plane to Aruba with his wife and kids.
The first stage of a new job is when the job isn’t even a job yet. The problem exists
but not the solution. While Sam was held hostage by his busy schedule he needed
some ‘magic.’ Someone who would show up at the door willing to take the helm and
solve his problem.
What is the moral of the story? Prospecting directly to the employer is a win-win
for both parties. Employers waste a lot of time and energy trying to find the most
profitable talent. The best time to approach them is when they are in the ‘inkling
– mull-it-over’ stage.
Legal Search & Management, Inc.
Legal Career News
Opportunities Are Inklings Before They Are by Jobs