How to be referable
How social media practices influence CRM

How to find a place to contribute

Whether we are are looking for an assignment or a job, we have to find a problem to solve.

By the time a job description or RFP is written, the pain point that created the need has been obscured. Many more layers of "nice to have" skills and whistles have been added. The experience required to solve the problem has been pre-supposed, often inaccurately. No questions are posed to the applicant.

How to find a place to contribute?

We have to become curious with every professional we meet. They love to talk about their work. We don't inquire about titles or responsibilities. We ask them what are they doing? And we gradually shift the discussion to their challenges.

Liz Ryan of Human Workplace has a list of questions that we could copy into our notebooks and ask during an interview.

Forbes: How to Probe for Pain in a Job Interview, 2014-Jul-5 by Liz Ryan

  1. So it sounds like you’re dealing with _________. How long has that been going on?

  2. How does it show up? How did that problem get the attention of your management team, and its current priority?

  3. What bad effect does ______ have on your business? Why is it a problem?

  4. What is _____ costing you, roughly? (If the Pain takes the form of missed opportunity, the question is “How much are you leaving on the table?”)

  5. What have you tried so far, to relieve _____? (You need to know, so you don’t suggest something that already failed.)

  6. How did it work when you tried that? (It couldn’t have worked all that well, or you’d be talking about a different Business Pain.)

  7. What is the appetite here in the organization for solving this problem? (Is this your hiring manager’s own pet project, or is there organizational support for it?)

  8. What is the ideal state, let’s say a year from now? (What does pain relief look like to your hiring manager?)

  9. Since the problem is costing you roughly $X per year (from question Four, above) what have you budgeted to relieve it? (This will help get you over the hump, “We have a forty-million dollar problem and we’re creating one sixty-thousand-dollar job to solve it.” REALLY, Jackson?)

  10. What’s your timeline for solving the problem?

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