I was talking with Praxis participant Emily Rachael today and she told me about a simple little strategy she used to get a job: She offered to work for half-pay for a full month. “If my work isn’t valuable, you can let me go” she proposed. “If you like the quality of my work, then promote me to full pay.” She was immediately given the job with full pay.
She gets it.
Here’s the thing that so many people miss when they’re looking for opportunities and promotions in the professional world: they underestimate the power of getting their foot in the door, proving their ability to create value, and using their experience as an opportunity to become indispensable.
People treat employers as if they only care about getting away without having to pay their workers. But even if this is true, no employer is going to shortchange an employee if it conflicts with his or her own self-interest. The key is to get yourself into a position where you can make it more costly for someone to lose you than it is for them to keep you. Your potential for profit and progress isn’t about where you begin. It’s about how much of a lynchpin you become regardless of where you begin.
Yes, employers care about maximizing their own profits. And that’s exactly why they’ll do anything to keep you around if you prove to be the kind of person whose presence helps them get what they want. Don’t wait for a cool opportunity to show up at your doorstep. Don’t neglect the opportunities that are in front of you simply because they doesn’t immediately conform to your ideal. Become a value-creator and the vistas of possibility will swiftly open.
By the way, before anyone hits me up with the old “but everybody can’t afford to work for free” reply, it might help you to know that this was her second job. She took this chance not because she could afford to work for free, but because she couldn’t afford to sit around and wait for magic to save her. That’s why she exercised the initiative and creativity to make things happen for herself.