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For some reason, there exists this trope that “there are no jobs available” or “businesses are not hiring.” I consider this part of the epidemic of entitled young people expecting to be handed a job simply because they exist and sat through classes for 4  years.
The reality is that businesses are desperate to hire. They just can’t find anybody who is a) qualified, b) coachable, or c) willing to put in the tough work up front.
Don’t believe me? Praxis has business partners all over the country ready to offer our participants a minimum starting salary of $40,000 after completing a paid apprenticeship.
Don’t get me wrong, most young people aren’t to blame, especially during their first couple go-arounds. The educational conveyor belt they grew up on has conditioned them to be this way.
Today, I’m going to give you an outline of how I landed a job without a college degree, in this “tough job market,” and against tons of other college grads who inquired about the position.
No more excuses. This formula is simple and replicable. If you can’t get a job doing this, it’s your fault.

It Starts with the Value Creation Mindset

One of the challenges you have to overcome as a young professional is the difference between the reward structure of school and the reward structure in the professional world. Study hard, pass the test, and you get an A. You “succeed.” In school, it’s all about you. You’ve got parents, teachers, and school counselors who care about how and what you do with yourself.
In the real world, it’s switched. It’s all about the value you create for others.
Most young people operate under the first reward structure when they go out to get their first job. They’ll shoot a potential employer an email like this:

Hi Derek,
I heard you on the Tom Woods show a while back and, as a result, have been tracking the progress of Praxis. I admire what you guys are doing and strongly believe in the necessity of disrupting the education system.
How can I get involved? I have a fairly diverse skill set, but would probably be most useful if there’s any need for social media marketing, raising brand awareness, empowering participants to be program evangelists, etc. I would just love to work with you guys in any way that would be beneficial to the company.

Observe that the email is all about the person who wants a job, and not about what the employer (me) needs. They’re asking the employer for a favor, much like a student asks a teacher for a grade.
If you want a job, you need to switch your mindset. The employer doesn’t owe you any favors. It’s your responsibility to make yourself valuable to them and to be crystal clear about how you can do so.
The good thing is that opportunities abound at every company to quickly and easily create value. Whether it’s creating a graphic, updating a landing page, authenticating a MailChimp account to save 10% on future bills, there’s almost always a low barrier task that can be proposed to a potential employer.
It’s easy.
Here the steps I took to get myself hired by a startup.

Step One: Establish a Relationship (Semi-Optional)

While people pay lip service to the power of relationships in the job seeking process, few people actually take the time to build one up front.
I knew I’d be taken far more seriously during the next two steps if I had a non professional point of contact with the founder before I sought the job.
The easiest way for me to do this was to go to lunch with him. We got to know eachother a bit and I asked him questions about his business. The topic of employment didn’t come up.
That was for later.

Step Two: Create a Value Proposition

Remember that email above that asked me for a job?
Here’s a better way to do it: Don’t do it. Create your own job.
Though I don’t have the original email I sent to get my foot in the door after lunch, I’ve rewritten the above email as if I were pitching myself again. Pay attention to the differences in language.

Hey guys,
I attended your conference last year and thought it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ve already bought a ticket for next year and gotten 6 of my friends to join me.
I love what you’re doing, and though I know you aren’t hiring now, I noticed two things that might help you this time around.

  1. Regular blog posting. The thing that first brought me to your website was a blog post you guys wrote on Paleo and the effect of decentralized networks. Brilliant stuff. I’ve read just about every post you’ve written since then. Since you’re a small team, you’re probably stretched pretty thin. I’ve written two blog posts that I think would be a great fit for your blog and could help capture leads for this year’s conference. If you like them, I’d be happy to contribute one post per week. (Link to posts)
  2. Create an automated email onboarding sequence for your list. I’ve noticed that new subscribers might have some difficulty finding your best blog posts and videos from your past conferences. A simple automated sequence for new subscribers might go a long way to help introduce them to your conference and the ideas behind it. It could also help drive more traffic to the site. I’ve seen this done quite a lot and have a simple template I’ve attached here (link to template).

I know you’re busy, so no need to reply, but I’d be happy to do these things for free for you if you think they’re high value but don’t have time to get to them yourselves.
Regards,
Derek

This was NOT a perfect email, but notice the difference between my email and the one I received. One of them asks for a favor, the other one offers to do a favor. One is abstract and flowery, one is concrete about the specific value add. One is risky to the employer because it costs them time and money, the other frees up their time and costs them nothing.
Which one do you think employers will respond to better?

Step Two: Deliver high value tasks without permission

Once I got permission to help them out, I realized I would need to do more than what I’d proposed if I wanted to be considered a full team member.
When I was working on their MailChimp account, it came to my attention that they had never exported their list to use in retargeted Facebook ads.
Most young professionals would wait to ask permission or bother the business owner about it. If they didn’t get a confirmation, they wouldn’t do anything.
I exported it myself up front and shot them an email:

Hey guys,
I went through your MailChimp account tonight and exported your lists (attached below). If you upload them to Facebook, (which I’ve tested), there are over 1500 unique Facebook accounts you can then target ads directly to.
That means you can narrow focus to anyone who has expressed a more clear interest in the conference through buying tickets, signing up for notifications. etc.
This is going to be tremendously valuable when you launch ticket sales. I’ve had way more success with targeting subscribers and past buyers than I have targeting Facebook fans.
Let me know if you need help creating a custom audience for these. I would make this a high priority soon.
— Derek

In other words, I didn’t ask for their permission to create value. I gave it to them and let them judge my work for what it was.
They loved it.
Within a week I’d been offered an official spot on the team and all sorts of other perks that come with being a conference insider.
I created my own position at the company by simply building things and giving it to them.

Why this works so well and what to do next

Getting great work opportunities doesn’t need to be that hard, it really doesn’t.
Employers are simple to understand and even simpler to please.
All you need to do is create more value than you take out in salary and create less work for them. That’s it.
Follow the above two steps religiously in both your early career job searches and later when you’re moving on to other companies, and I guarantee that you’ll have a much higher success rate than your average young professional.
I’m so confident in it that I want to challenge you.
Go out and start this process next week.
Post a comment on this blog with what you’re going to do and I’ll give you feedback.