Dear Liz,

I’ve learned so much from following your advice, I can’t tell you! I have a new job that I got by breaking the traditional job-search rules and following my own path. Here’s the story.

I saw a job ad that looked interesting, but the job itself was not a fit for me. It was a Customer Engineering position. I liked the way the job ad was written, though. It was written in a human voice, and the company’s website talked a lot about their desire to hire people who think for themselves.

I wanted to send a Pain Letter to the manager who was looking for a Customer Engineer, but I wasn’t even remotely qualified for the job, so I didn’t. Instead, I went to LinkedIn and started researching the managers who work for the company. I started with the manager of Customer Engineering, who was easy to find, and I looked for his colleagues among his connections.

I found a Manager of Customer Care who looked like a better fit for my not-very-technical CRM and Account Management background. I sent her a Pain Letter, and her assistant wrote back to me pretty quickly. I got on the phone with “my” hiring manager, Amy.


We had a good talk, but Amy didn’t have any job openings. She said she might have a Customer Care Analyst job opening soon, but that it might not be senior enough to interest me. She asked me for an electronic copy of my resume, and she sent it to HR.

I got a very polite “no thanks” email message from HR a few days later. Three weeks after that, I heard from HR again. They had a Customer Care Analyst position available in Amy’s department. I was afraid the job might be too junior for me, but I went to the interview anyway.


The job was very junior but I didn’t take myself out of the running. I told them my salary expectation and they said that this position probably wouldn’t pay that much, but I was curious to learn about the job so I didn’t drop out of the process.



I had a great opportunity to learn a lot about the company during my two interviews there. One of the most important things I learned is that the company has a pain point around large-account management. I asked a lot of questions about that issue.

They don’t have anyone supporting their large accounts, although they have about 15 major customers. Their large-account customers have to deal with their sales reps or call Customer Care when they have a problem. Everybody acknowledged that it’s not a great situation.



I got another “no thanks” message for the Customer Care Analyst job but I didn’t let it deter me. I sent a thank-you letter (on paper) to Amy and in that letter, I talked specifically about handling large accounts.


In the letter, I talked about what I’d heard about the company’s large-account problem and my background in that area. I suggested a quick phone conversation to explore ideas, since I had already met her in person.

The rest is history, as they say. Amy called me and we talked about her problem. She said that she wouldn’t have budget to hire a dedicated large-account specialist until halfway through 2017 at the earliest.


I said “Why not create a hybrid position? I can spend half my time building your large-accounts support program, and the rest of my time answering the phones with everyone else — that way I will learn your product line and your systems.”

Amy said she could imagine a three-month contracting gig. I wasn’t working anyway so I said that sounded great. It took Amy about two weeks to get approval to bring me on as a contractor.


I took the contract gig and built the large-account support program. By the six-week mark I knew they were not going to want to let me go at the end of my contract.


Amy made me a full-time job offer and now I am the National Accounts Manager for my company. The job was never posted publicly because I designed the position from the inside, while performing the job.


Now I can’t imagine getting a new job any other way! I’m proud of myself for converting a “no thank you” message into a job offer. You are right, Liz — we have to focus on the question “What kind of Business Pain do I solve?” Everything gets so much easier once we do that.

Thanks for everything!




Dear Thierry,


Congratulations on growing your muscles and listening to your gut! The old working world is fading away before our eyes. Entrepreneurial job-seekers like you will succeed in the new-millennium job market. Folks who have trouble stepping out of the old job-search mindset will struggle.

Now you know that you have power in the employer-employee relationship. You spotted a hiring manager’s pain and addressed it. That’s what every good consultant does!


Hats off to you for not taking “no thanks” for an answer — and for designing a job that suits your talents and will make your company even more successful!

All the best,



Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Follow her onTwitter and read the rest of her columns here.


Source :