"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"...
December 15, 2008 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Writing your own job description - how to talk yourself into a job you want?

Does anyone have experience writing your own job description when that position doesn't exactly exist - and basically talking yourself into a job you really, really want?

Sorry for the length - I'm trying to explain it without refering to the company obviously. It's tangentially related to this previous question, but slightly different.

Ok, there's bad news and good news: the bad news is, the community manager marketing job I applied for has probably been filled. However, the CEO of the company got back to me, is impressed with my experience and wants to find a way to work with me in the future - perhaps a small design contract. What I'd love to do is parlay this into a full time position with the company. They're a new, very small startup in stealth mode with a good product that fills a user need, addresses a current and popular issue and has no real direct competition. Conveniently, the company's issues to solve and things to do really appeal to my skill set, strengths and previous experience (especially in disorganized startups) - areas like business analysis, biz dev (identifying partners etc.), product development (identifying compelling features) as well as design, marketing, branding and strategy. The problem is creating my own job description - I could call it 'user experience designer', but that's not exactly what UX is, and I want to create a compelling case for hiring me rather than a 'huh? what does that mean' type reaction to 'hire me as a UXer'. (not that there's anything wrong with UX!).

The question is, does that position exist, and if so, what is it called? It's almost like a Chief Branding Officer type position (see this great presentation - for an explanation on that term)- I'm not concerned about job titles but rather saying, 'you need me, and here's what I provide and solve for you'? If that kind of position doesn't exist, how can I justify its creation? Do I make a small business case that basically says 'hire me'? I don't want to seem like I'm stepping on the feet of the marketing guy who's just been hired (although there isn't really any overlap, and I'd be more than happy to collaborate with him/her). I also don't want to seem like I'm just rushing in and wanting to stick my fingers in every pie that's out there - although truthfully I'm thinking my boss would see it as 'genuinely passionate about the product and company' (which I am - it's a great concept and I do like the CEO) rather than 'power grab/ego driven/messing around in everything'. I'm willing to do what needs to be done, and I'm hoping that shows as enthusiasm rather than 'jack of all trades, master of none'. There is one other person in the company that has a marketing background, but I'm unsure if they're actually doing anything or are just staying stealth for a bit...

One more related question - let's say I create a good job description for this dream position, noting my tasks, hinting at deliverables and milestone's I'd be meeting. Should I try and quantify or justify my salary for the position? Part of the problem I want to help them solve is securing the next round of funding - identifying VCs, creating biz plans, etc. etc. Does it seem crass to say, "here's what I should make, and here's how you'll pay for it?" (not that I'm planning to ask for lots, mind you). I can make the case that with a startup that doesn't have solid funding yet and our current iffy economy, they would be hiring a combined position - like a CMO with additional COO type duties with a complimentary skill set - rather than having to hire these separate jobs down the road.

Any ideas? Does this sound crazy? Does anyone have any experience in doing this? I'll abandon the idea if it seems ridiculous, but am curious to see if I can make it work.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm. This comment might be something of a downer, and I might be missing something, but it sounds like what he's asking for ("wants to find a way to work with me in the future - perhaps a small design contract") is slightly different from what you're thinking (designing a full-time position) in both focus (design vs. strategic planning) and length (small contract vs. full-time staff position), so you'll need to speak to both of those differences and allow your master plan to evolve over time.

Focus. It sounds like instead of being a designer for them, you want to be something of a business strategy consultant. (I don't know the terms here either.) Do you think they'd go for that? If so, great. You may need to find a way to explain how your ideas relate to the design they want, either by having design be the first of several steps, or by making the design something you work up to after doing some of this other stuff ("to design this website, we need a clear sales strategy, so I think we should start by first developing that strategy"). A big question here will be how much money they have to pay you and/or whether you would work for free.

Length. Do you have a clearer idea about what would be the first two or three deliverables of your ideal position? I'd propose to do those things, and explain that you see those as the early testing phases of what could be an ongoing relationship. This takes the pressure off of you to figure out the name and full job description of this position, and it will help keep you from biting off more than you can chew early on. The culmination of those steps could be a financing proposal that includes money for them to hire you (the earlier steps could be some of this market analysis and identifying compelling features that you want to do and/or some of the design they want you to do). Then I'd propose this more intensive working relationship in the lowest pressure way you can. "From everything you've said, it seems like there are a few next steps for your group -- X, then Y, then Z. [You should know that they will agree with these before this discussion.] I'd be happy to be involved at whatever level it makes sense. We could begin working on these, with me as a consultant, and then we can check in between each stage. If the funding is still available and if we both still feel like it's a good match, then great. If, as your business plan evolves, you might discover that you need to work with someone with a different set of skills and the fit stops being good, we can go our own way at any of these check-in points with no hard feelings. But if it works out, I'd be very excited about staying involved with YourCompany over the long term."

Good luck.
posted by salvia at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2008

how can I justify its creation?

Dollah-bill, y'all. The best conceivable way to show a company that they should hire you for a new position is by showing them how much money they will make from your actions and how little (relatively) you will cost them. Obviously, the more profit, the better, but for large firms, even a slight net positive will be enough to get you on board if they really do want to work with you. If your financial situation allows, a great way to do this is to suggest a very meager salary, with end-of-year bonuses on any income/funding/profit you earn, over and above a pre-determined target.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:54 AM on December 15, 2008

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