The Impact of Boutique Employability on the New Reality of Employability
By Julia Ivy
Just a month ago, I started the article for graduates regarding a historically low unemployment rate. At that time, it was easy to find a job even though some jobs could be boring and one-dimensional. For those, who wanted more than just a job, I suggested the option of pursuing a personal strategy of BE for “crafting your edge for today’s job market.” The “BE” stands for boutique employability – the type of employability that would let these people craft their own edge and shape the space in the market that would fit their unique and multidimensional combination of skills, passions, and experiences. It would lead them to connect with a dream employer and show their multidimensional value for the company of their choice.
The rules of employment and employability have changed.
Almost overnight, we shifted from a healthy economy with a growing stock market and a low unemployment rate to the opposite side of the spectrum. Based on the New York Times, the Labor Department report from April 2nd showed about five million people filed for jobless benefits, part of the growing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It happened on top of our concern about our own safety and the well-being of the people we care about.
In the market, where more people are looking for a job than jobs looking for people, job candidates will fall into two categories – to be “one of many” or “one of one” from the perspective of the employer that goes through the list of applicants.
- The “one of many” category represents good people, whose resume will blend with many other resumes of good people, all of whom have similarly fine education and similarly relevant experience. This lack of a differentiator would especially hit 2020 graduates who have less experience than others.
- The “one of one,” and “EXACTLY whom my company needs” represent candidates that employers will perceive as tailored specifically for their company. These candidates will be pre-tested as a fit for the company based on their personal focus and scope of expertise, social connection with the company’s culture and people, and professional value of working on challenges that the company faces in such disturbing times.
This article aims to elaborate on how to become a “one of one” and perceive a personal strategy of “BE” – boutique employability. There are three conditions for being qualified for pursuing the “BE” personal strategy.
- First, you love solving challenges and making a difference in the areas that you care about. You feel good when you can solve a real-life problem and make a difference.
- Second, you accept the mindset that you are multidimensional. To prove that this is true, make a list of your profession-related skills and training/certification and profession-unrelated skills and experiences. Example: your work in the past, your hobbies, your unused professional education, or your experience of operating in challenging settings like remote areas of Alaska or the informal economy of Mexico). The list must have at least 10 items, but feel free to target more. The list can combine all that make your multidimensional profile.
- Third, you accept the mindset that it would be YOU who is in charge of your own employability (vs giving the right to define your employability to recruiters or employers).
If you accept all of them with all your heart, then follow three steps: PASSION-OPTIONS-ACTION. The only possible obstacle for becoming “BE” qualified could be in your own mindset of “What is special about me? No, I cannot do it.” Otherwise, the “BE” personal strategy is open for everybody. Let us work on a message that you can post on your social media page, or share in interviews or networking events.
Step 1: Expressing YOUR PASSION for working on a challenge that you truly care about
Start with defining a scope of companies that YOU care about, and explain why you care about them. Choose one for this exercise to practice the technique, and then you can do it again and again for other companies.
Define one of the challenges that you think these companies are facing now. Finally, look at the list of your multidimensional qualities and expertise (above) and choose two-three of your qualifications that could help the company that you care about deal with the challenge you assume it has. These three credentials elucidate your multidimensional core as most relevant for the company of your choice.
Then, bring these together and draft a passionate message that connects the company, your care about the company, the challenge you are interested in solving, and your core. This is a fill-in template for the first part of your post:
I am _____________ a graduate from________, I am passionate about ___________ (the company) because of _____________ (why you care) . I believe my background in _________ and ________(your core) could let me contribute to search for solutions for _____________ (the challenge).
Step 2: Employing your MULTIDIMENSIONAL CORE
Employ your multidimensional qualifications to assume a couple of options, each of which could potentially be a solution for the challenge. Do not hesitate to go beyond the “normal practice”; inform these options with your unique blend of experiences. For example: if you are from a post-Soviet area, you experienced dealing with a broken supply chain. If you are good at video gaming, you know how to make virtual interactions engaging. If your previous job was at a high school, you know how to keep customers involved. If you have an education in finance, you know how to reconfigure a cost structure and manage expenses. Each experience would inform options you consider possible solutions.
Bring your thoughts together in a message that raises interest. Avoid recommending anything to the company as ready solutions, but rather open your thought process and share how passionate you are to help.
I think, the options of __________________ and _________________ ___________ are worth to consider as potential pathways towards (think about the desirable outcome). Each of these options certainly need further investigation on whether and how they can work for ________________ (the company).
Step 3: Prove that You Are Into Actions
Finish your post by sharing your urge for action to solve the challenge for the company you care about. Tag the company you have mentioned in your post. Companies need “out of the box” ideas that are relevant to THEIR challenges and need people that care and are capable.
If you can post the message on your social media platform, you can ask others to join you in your passion and volunteering effort. If you communicate the message in interviews or networking opportunities, share how far you feel motivated with this challenge, and would love to volunteer to work on it as long as you know that it would make a difference.
These are the fundamentals of your “BE” personal strategy of boutique employability. It lets YOU define a scope of companies and challenges that are of interest and differentiate yourself from others. Keep doing it, but be sincere in your choice of the company you care about and your drive to solve the puzzle. Remember, you do NOT offer yourself as an employee or ask for payment yet. You care about the company. You love solving challenges. You have special expertise to solve this one. You want to make a difference.
Only when you receive interest from a company, keep crafting your edge. You have already mastered the first and most difficult step of Elucidating your Multidimensional CORE and linking it with YOUR CASE. The next step is to Develop Trust.
The money will follow.