Are you just a willing worker?

Thursday morning (July 4th) I put this ad on Craigslist.  As of this morning, 4 days later, I have received 19 responses.  Some live 50 miles away, some have full-time jobs and would need to just pop in late in the evening, and some want something just until they find a full-time position.  And unfortunately, most of the rest have no relevant experience or knowledge – they are just “willing workers” who need some income.

We are a writing and speaking couple with nine acres that we absolutely House - stoneworklove. Our mowing and trimming is taken care of – but we have found the ongoing planting and loving attention to keep the property attractive for guests and friends is more than what our busy schedules allow. Must be knowledgeable about plant life and willing to make suggestions for flowers, plants, fertilizing, water feature maintenance, nature trails, etc. Small John Deere tractor and all tools provided.  We have our main house and a converted barn we call The Sanctuary on our property. Our events for creative thinkers bring people from around the country who are eager to see where we live.  No set schedule – just the responsibility to keep our place looking gorgeous. Perhaps 10-15 hrs a week.  Please submit brief background overview and current commitments. I’ll call you to come by and look at property.

When I put so much emphasis on being “remarkable” at something, it’s hard for me to get excited about interviewing a generalist.  In Hollywood, if you want to get picked for any role you become known as a specialist – a funny guy, tough gal, action hero – something that lets people know you are the best at something.  Look at the careful character selection in Les Miserables.  Or as Steve Martin says, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”  If you want to be in the top tier in medicine, don’t be a generalist.  Be a cardiologist, a neurologist, an allergist, or a hematologist.

Jobs that don’t require a specialty are typically low level.  To move up you have to be great at something, and you have to be clear on what you don’t do well.  Don’t just say you’re a willing worker and will do anything.  That immediately puts you at the bottom of the list – and very easy to replace.  Specialize and then let the world know you are great at _____________________.

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  • I think it was Napoleon Hill who said: “specialist make the most money.”

    Don’t quote me though 🙂

  • Dan, that job description sounds like a genuine opportunity for someone to really stand-out and strut their expertise. In the grand scheme of things, any job description is an opportunity to address a need in a most unique and remarkable way.

    Makes me wonder; who wouldn’t get excited when that specialist walks in like they are the answer to their prayers?

  • Dan, For someone out there this is their dream job. It would be tragic for a “willing worker” to take the spot of someone else who would find great meaning and purpose in this work.

    • 48DaysDan

      I having 3-4 people come by today. Hopefully I’ll find the right match.

      • I have no doubt Dan that you will position someone for success and meaning regardless of who you choose. That’s just who you are!

  • Mike Desmarais

    Dan, you often tell people on your podcast they should bid for a job and not charge by the hour. Any reason you listed compensation as 10-15 hours/week at $12/hour instead of simply a specified amount per week or month? What would be the best way to counter offer in a situation like that so someone could get compensated based on the job so they would make out just as well if they were able to do the job in fewer hours?

    • 48DaysDan

      Great point. I would expect someone to work by the hour for only a week or two and then quickly move to a monthly retainer. I’m certainly open to that – just don’t know how long it will take until I have someone keep on top of it for a couple weeks.

  • I almost started this response with “unfortunately willing workers are a dime a dozen …”, however, depending on where you decide to stand moving forward, it can actually be a “fortunate” thing.

    If 80-85% (possibly more) are “willing”, the gap that this creates for the experts is astonishingly wide with very few inhabitants.

  • Great example using the medicine field Dan. In marketing we say, “a product or service for everyone is a product or service for no one.”