The 365 Commitment

Day 197 – The Art of Job Crafting

Have you heard someone say, “This is not in my job description?” I always laugh when I hear this from someone because let’s be honest. In today’s day and age, any job description probably has a shelf life of about 2–3 weeks. If you get hired for one job, there will be a shift in that job quickly. You will not do the same job for even a year, almost guaranteed. Before I bailed out of corporate life, I had many job titles and descriptions that differed from what I was doing.

Next time someone complains about a job description, try this trick.

Give the person a blank paper and pencil and tell them to write their job description. Give them 5 minutes. This will be a highly instructive lesson, and when they are done, go through what they wrote down line by line. What you talk through and discuss will be a revelation to both of you. When the discussion is wrapped up, you will understand what is happening in that employee’s role, job, management team, and organization structure. This exercise is a powerful way to connect in a meaningful way. I have done this a few times, and it has cemented that job descriptions are variable. Still, communication about what we are engaged in should be open.

Try this same concept during interviews!

One trick I learned from a seasoned interviewer was to ask a very revealing open-ended question during interviews. For example, if someone was interviewing for a sales position in your company, you could ask them at the beginning of the interview to describe what you want this role to do. What would you like this job to be like if you were in charge of crafting the job description? Chances are the interviewee will be reluctant and need clarification on this question, but I have tried this tact. We are hiring professionals like yourself to craft and help us understand this role, so please tell me what you think. I know no other question that drives at the heart of determining the proper fit than a conversation between employee and employer about the job description. I prefer this line of questioning to the more abstract question, “Describe your perfect day.”

Ask People to Wave the Magic Wand

When talking to a client or a colleague, I often like to get people into this mindset with the “wave of a magic wand” concept. What would you like this to be if you could wave a magic wand? I often hear a client or employee complain about a current situation or something happening in their job. Instead of diving into the complaint department, a very tempting place to dwell, I flip the conversation to fairy tale land. What would things look like if you could wave a magic wand and fix this situation? What would you fix first with your magic wand? This always opens up the conversation in surprising ways. We find out the status quo is not that bad after all, or potentially, the imagined ideal was not as great as we had considered.

Consider the Art of Job Crafting Yourself

Suppose you are tormented about your current situation or feeling constrained or limited. In that case, consider the art of job crafting. You can sit down and write up a job description for your dream job. Can you do that? I suspect this will be one of the hardest things that you can conceive of doing. Write down your perfect job. Most people will find it almost impossible to get through this exercise, but imagine if you could do so? What would you have then? You would have your ambition clearly identified. Once you have crafted your perfect job, go create it. Start a company, talk to your leadership about a new role, and share your story with others. You will be surprised how well this type of thinking will be received.

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